Tash Crudup is a vegan powerhouse: She’s a professional dancer who has graced the stage with JLo, toured with Lourde, and performed in Rihanna's Savage Fenty fashion show in NYC. The artist is a member of Unity Dance who took second place in World Of Dance last season. Between work choreographing and dancing, she's also a Soulcycle instructor and yoga teacher. It’s safe to say she’s an expert source on the intersection of healthy living and veganism. She shares recipes, training, and more on Lil Vegan Shawty. The Beet sat down with Crudup to get her top tips on living a healthy vegan life and how veganism can enhance our sports performance.

The Beet: When did you go vegan?

Tash Crudup: My sophomore year is when I went vegetarian, in 2012 when I was 16, and I haven’t eaten any meat or animals since then. When I moved to L.A. five years ago, veganism was more accessible. I just knew I wanted to take the plunge.

TB: What made you decide to switch from vegetarian to vegan?

TC: It was a mix of things, but my deepest push was that I’m a dancer. I've been training very intensely since I was about three years old. That shifted me to looking deeper into wellness and how my body interacts with the world, and how I interact with it. I started cross-training a lot, doing more pilates and yoga, and all the things. It opened my eyes to how I could connect to my body more, and how that translates into my lifestyle. I shifted once I fully realized what our food production is like, our society, and the way that we grew up.

TB: How does being plant-based improve your performance as a professional dancer?

TC: There are complex things, and also acute things I realized right away. Things like my memory, being able to pick up choreography a lot quicker because I didn’t feel foggy in rehearsals. My energy levels went up. Even now, as a wellness instructor, I’m able to teach my classes in the morning, have my own workout, go to rehearsal, teach another class at night, and still maintain, not only my energy level but healthy body weight. As I’m dancing, nothing feels heavy or sluggish.

TB: How does veganism expand consciousness as well as optimal health through wellness?

TC: Just the idea of sharing, of unity, of things not being self-motivated. Something that ignited that kind of statement was that I’ve struggled in the past with an eating disorder. For me, understanding that what I’m doing is giving to something so much bigger than myself helps everything that I’m doing. And I think that plugs into so many parts of my life. I thought about the sacredness of other beings, just to look at them in a whole different way, versus how you look at yourself.

You ask more questions. I don’t just take anything on the surface anymore. It opens a portal to something that makes you aware of how big and small you are at the same time, and like every person is the same. We’re all very big and very small at the same time, and I think that if we’re meant to be solo, we’d be on the earth solo. There wouldn’t be animals, there wouldn’t be trees, there wouldn’t be disconnectivity. So connecting myself to that, and veganism has just changed the way that I fully interact with the world knowing that.

TB: How did veganism help you recover from an eating disorder?

TC: My connectivity to the planet. I felt really, really alone. I wanted to talk to people but I couldn’t. I think that this world and understanding how what I do directly affects other people and the planet in either a positive or a negative way gave me a choice. It gave me something to stick to that I knew was positive. I knew that every single meal I ate was going to give to the planet. Going vegan-only opened up more food options that I could have, more ways than I could give to myself, more ways I could feel better.

TB: Do you have any advice for someone who is considering going vegan?

TC: I tell my clients don’t just jump in. Make sure to take your time—it's a journey. I’ve had a negative relationship with food because of that, not taking the time, not taking the real reason why. If you want to take the plant-based shift, write a list of the reasons why you want to do this, why this makes you happy. You have to understand what your motives are, what your purpose in what you are doing is, and how that connects to the planet and everything around you. I also think that by giving yourself time and research, you’ll also give yourself the opportunity for longevity. That's really beautiful, powerful, and uplifting.

Something that I started with my mom is a Meatless Monday. I have some clients who do one meal out of the day that’s plant-based. Find little things that work for you to introduce yourself to this way of consuming. If you have a vegan friend, and they ask you to go to a restaurant just go and see what it's about with no judgment.

TB: What is your favorite type of dance for a workout?

TC: My favorite type of dance is contemporary. I like to move slower. I like to be present so I do yoga and pilates. I think that going inward has always been more beneficial for me. I feel better taking it down. I’m big on tapping into energy.

TB: What is your favorite vegan restaurant in Los Angeles?

TC: Sage Bistro! Their cauliflower appetizers have multiple different flavors, so you can get whatever you want. They also have jackfruit tacos that are so good. It’s my favorite restaurant. I’d go there for my birthday. I moved this year and it's literally around the corner.

TB: What do you typically eat in a day?

TC: In the morning I have some kind of juice, smoothie, or bowl situation that usually has a lot of seeds, dark green leaves, and fruits all mixed in. I put a bunch of stuff on top like coconut shreds. I’ll have something small on the side like yogurt before I work out.

Lunch is some kind of bowl. I’m a huge lover of bowls. Anything colorful and in a circle is really attractive to me. That could be a giant salad that has all my favorite things from my fridge in it, or a warm bowl with quinoa, brown rice, and chickpeas. I usually change up the flavor depending on what I'm feeling that day. I might make a Thai bowl or a Mexican bowl.

I love pasta nights. I love noodles. I have also gotten really into making sushi for myself. I love to do zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.

TB: If you were going to make a meal at home for a special occasion, what would you prepare?

TC: I’d go online because I’m a recipe kind of chic. I love looking up a recipe and having to go get the ingredients. I’d probably do a vegan gluten-free like lasagna or my mom’s baked ziti. Something that feels fancy, like you could have a glass of wine with it.

TB: Is there an ingredient that you cannot live without?

TC: Either nutritional yeast. Because of how many ways can you use it. It's just so great anywhere. And turmeric as well. Both are always in the house.

TB: Do you have a go-to post-workout snack?

TC: I'm big on fruit. I'm fueling my body with it. It feels hydrating after a workout. I’ll make a giant bowl of fruit and put some cinnamon on top. It’s rewarding and refreshing to me after a workout. Fruit also helps me with that need for sugar and can replace a bar.

I try to stay away from packages as much as I can. I don't like having things I don't know about. Looking at the back of your food and noticing how much of the ingredients I can't even pronounce or have no idea what it is. Like not a clue. That feels untrusting and not comforting for me.

TB: Do you have a mantra or words that you live by?

TC: This tweet by Sza is still my phone’s background today. She tweeted, “you want to be mad, or do you want to be great?” You can take any situation and plug that in, and realize you have the choice. We always have the choice to shift our perspective. We always have the choice to either be mad or be great. Rise from it, or let it tear us down, no matter what it is. So I think that kind of, I mean, it goes into traffic and you can be mad or you can just, you know, rise to the occasion.

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