Badass Vegan Athletes Part 1: Matt Terry
Updated: Mar 14
After struggling with obesity most of his life, Matt turned his pain into a passion for all things sports and nutrition. He completed his degrees in exercise science and has spent the last 19 years as a trainer and nutrition coach helping change minds and transform lives.
Matt played college football, has competed in all strength sports from powerlifting to Olympic lifting and natural bodybuilding. He was a member of the men’s US national team for Olympic weightlifting, winning 3 national championships, he took part in the 2000 Olympic trials (missed qualifying for the Olympics by only one spot!), and lifted in world championships and the Pan Am games.
What are some ways in which your active, vegan lifestyle contribute to your quality of life? What does it do for you? How does it enhance your life?
Being vegan has helped revitalize my joy of eating. Previously, as a meat eater, I felt bored of my food, often not really wanting to eat. I find being plant-based and the many colors on my plate make me want to eat, feel better about what I am eating, and feel better and more vital overall.
Please share your best nutrition tips for vegans who are interested in healthy diets to support their active lifestyles.
Food prep is key. Having lots of ready-to-eat foods prepped ahead of time, having all the veggies and fruits washed, chopped and ready to go really makes a difference. I also default to eating most things raw as it’s just easier. One thing I would say especially as you transition is cook harder to digest foods very well. When I first transitioned, my fiber intake was too high and caused a few stomach issues.
As a plant-based athlete, what sorts of foods do you prepare or pack when you travel?
Usually fruit, nuts, seeds, plant-based protein bars, tofu, beans, etc.
How do you think your life would have been different had you not decided to become vegan?
Given the health condition I switched to vegan for, I probably would have been dead, or at least dying. [Karina's note: check out my discussion with Matt on the No-B.S. Vegan podcast for details.]
Do you have any active living tips to share with vegans who are just beginning to exercise, or those who want to be more active?
Start slow, find things you enjoy, and build over time. Do not try to win the CrossFit games your first workout!
What has been the greatest diet- or nutrition-related challenge for you as a plant-based athlete?
At first it was just learning how to structure things and which foods could help balance out my meals better so I wasn’t just eating fruits and veggies.
How do you promote muscle recovery?
Eating enough, sleeping, and active recovery days.
What are some athletic achievements you’d like to highlight?
Right now training 7 days a week with little to no soreness, increased recovery and really pushing my limits in terms of endurance and strength that I don’t think I could have done even in my 20s when I was a world-class athlete.
While in my 20s I was an elite Olympic Lifter for the US in the 94 kilo class. I won 3 National titles, competed in the World Championships and won several Pan-American game medals. My best lifts at that time was a 341 snatch, 440 clean & jerk, 640 back squat and a 305 standing military press. I was a huge meat and dairy eater, in chronic pain, and always bloated. I lived on anti-inflammatories and pain meds. My joints constantly ached, and my digestion was a mess. I thought it was normal. As the cliché goes, I wish I knew then, what I know now. I still train very hard, daily in fact with little to no joint pain and even though my recovery has always been great, now it feels the best it’s ever been.
Matt on the No-B.S. Vegan podcast
Matt joined me on episode 020 of the No-Bullshit Vegan podcast to share his vegan story for the first time. We also discuss muscle gains, supplementing, and fuelling training on a plant-based diet.
The Badass Vegan Athlete Series
Sprouted Gains: Your guide to gaining muscle, losing fat, and fuelling your strength training on a plant-based diet.
Karina's ebook, Sprouted Gains, shows you how to enjoy delicious plant-based foods while making sure you nail your fitness and physique goals.
The best part? You don't have to cut carbs, chug 3 protein shakes a day, forgo your favourite foods, or spend 5 hours meal prepping every Sunday.