Interview with Karina Inkster – Vegan Health & Fitness Coach

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Welcome to this week’s interview with Karina Inkster. In addition to the interview, Karina has also generously shared her recipe for her Carrot Coconut and Ginger soup.

Karina is a vegan health and fitness coach with a Master’s degree in Gerontology, specializing in health and aging. Vegan since 2003 and vegetarian since 1998, Karina offers individual and small group fitness training, nutrition and healthy living counseling, health and wellness seminars, as well as online coaching and consulting – all with a focus on plant-based living.

She’s the author of two books, Vegan Vitality: Your Complete Guide to a Healthy, Active, Plant-Based Lifestyle, and Foam Rolling: 50 Exercises for Massage, Injury Prevention, and Core Strength. Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Karina has been weight lifting, swimming, running, rope jumping, and power yoga-ing her way to fitness since 2003.

When she’s not training her clients, writing, or working out, you’ll find Karina playing accordion, piano, or Australian didgeridoo; creating miniature paper filigree sculptures; or sneaking spinach into her husband’s smoothies.

How did you get into veganism and fitness, and how are the two related for you?

My veganism began with vegetarianism. At the age of 11, I decided I wanted no part in the inhumane treatment of animals, so I stopped eating them. Five years later I went 100% plant-based to fully avoid supporting any form of animal agriculture (which of course includes dairy and eggs), and I aimed to enjoy a diet that had as small an impact on the environment as possible.

I got serious about fitness in 2003, which was the same year I went vegan. Veganism and fitness are, of course, both part of a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. More than that, though, being a vegan athlete shows the world that we’re capable and strong – in case there are still people out there who believe otherwise!

 

Do you tend to work with mostly vegans?

A large proportion of my clients are vegan – or working on becoming vegan – but I
have many in-person clients who aren’t plant-based. Almost all of my online clients are vegan, since most of them specifically sought out a plant-based health and fitness coach.

 

Have your colleagues been supportive about your veganism?

Overall, yes. It’s interesting to note “cultural” differences at different gyms. At one, being plant-based is a complete non-issue and rarely gets mentioned. At another, there are more friendly jokes about eating rabbit food, or trainers poking my biceps and saying, “Are these really built only on plants?!” Perhaps it’s just a matter of being unfamiliar with plant-based athletics – but that won’t last long, since we’re taking over the world!

 

How often are you asked about protein?  How do you respond?

I’m very rarely asked about protein in a general sense, like the age-old “So, where do you get your protein?” I think people are finally becoming aware that getting enough protein is a non-issue.

However, I’m asked very often about protein specifically related to athletic performance, usually by clients who are already vegan. My client chasing a 250-pound deadlift might ask how much protein she needs to most effectively fuel her training and build muscle, or my client completing a 140-kilometre cycling event might wonder what percentage of her calories should come from protein to best complement her cycling.

I usually recommend a macronutrient ratio baseline of 50% carbohydrates, 25-30% fats, and 20-25% protein. This will be tweaked depending upon someone’s preferred activities and lifestyle. My strength athlete client will want more protein and fewer carbs, while my cycling client might want a higher percentage of carbs.

What is one piece of advice you have for women who think doing chin-ups is too hard?

Doing chin-ups is too hard, if you haven’t trained for them properly! The first time you ever got behind the wheel of a car, did you immediately tackle downtown traffic in rush hour? I certainly hope not! Chin-ups are a hallmark of upper body strength because they take a lot of dedication and practice to achieve. Instead of worrying about the end goal, focus on building a consistent practice habit. (By the way, I’ve created a 10-step online course to help women nail their first chin-up! Check it out here.

 

Tell us about your women’s weight lifting group!

I’ve been leading the Vancouver Women’s Weight Lifting Meetup Group since 2012, and it currently boasts 355 members. Our group is for women interested in, curious about, or already into weight lifting. Training with weights (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, etc.) is the most effective way to get strong and lean!

I started the Vancouver Women’s Weight Lifting Group to bring together women of all backgrounds and ages who are interested in health, fitness, and increasing the quality of their lives. If you’re interested in weight training but don’t know where to start, if you’re already weight training but want to see better results or learn new exercises, or if you’re already weight training and want to connect with other women who do the same, this group is for you!

We meet at an exclusive personal training studio (3313 West Broadway, in Vancouver) for fun, informative sessions. Check out our site at www.meetup.com/women-and-weights for upcoming events.

 

 

 

Who are some of your vegan fitness inspirations?

Robert Cheeke deserves special mention here, since he’s done so much to advance the vegan fitness movement! (And he happened to write the foreword for my book,
Vegan Vitality.)

I’m inspired by athletes who train for performance rather than aesthetics.
Brendan Brazier’s triathlon accomplishments, Patrik Baboumian’s feats of strength, or
Fiona Oakes’s incredible endurance are inspirational examples.

Thank you Karina for answering all our questions and sharing your soup recipe!  For our readers who would like to learn more about Karina’s services or books – Visit her website at karinainkster.com and check out her music at www.crankymolluscs.com.
Social media: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
 

 

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I once went to a restaurant with friends where the only vegan option was a carrot ginger soup. It was so delicious – a far cry from many other restaurants’ only vegan options – that I had to create my own.

The Grub:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium Russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp curry powder
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (14oz) can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped (optional)

The How To:

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook onion in oil for 3 – 5 minutes, until turning translucent. Add garlic and cook for one minute.
  2. Add carrots, potato, bell pepper, ginger, black pepper, curry powder, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or
    until carrots are very soft.
  3. Add coconut milk and let heat through for a minute or two. Purée soup until smooth using a handheld immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor.
  4. Top with 1tbsp fresh mint and 1 tbsp green onion directly before serving (optional).

  Serves 4

 

Have any comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

 

 

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