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by Jesse Starling

Now this is an article that I am super passionate about. Choosing to live a plant based lifestyle has been one of the best decisions my family and I have ever made. For us being plant based means we choose not to eat any animal products that include meat, eggs, dairy products and fish. Now I know what you’re thinking. “That is a vegan”, yes the diet part is but we still choose to wear leather shoes and jackets, which makes us not vegan however plant based. 

Now back to the article, most of my family has been vegetarian for a long time however, my mum and I only converted quite recently only about a year ago. As of 5 months ago we all decided as a family to go plant based. We have all noticed a change in a lot of things such as an increase in strength and energy levels. 

As for surfing my sister, dad and I have all noticed that we can surf for a lot longer without getting too tired. However, I understand that a lot of people need more than one person’s word for it so we spoke to Brisa Hennessy and Leilani McGonagle who are both plant based surfers and got them to answer a few questions for us. 

How long have you been plant based? 

Brisa: “I have been vegan for around 5 months now. We decide as a family pretty much after Covid to start the journey on Namotu”.

Leilani: “I have been mainly plant-based for about a year- 2 years (I went trough a seafood area)”.


How has becoming plant based improved your lifestyle? 

Brisa:  “It has been such an amazing and positive change for me both for my physical and mental health. I feel stronger, healthier, more energized and happier! I love that I can help the planet in some way and also fuel my body as an athlete”.

Leilani: “I started as dairy free to target some skin problems, but I was already eating a mostly vegetarian diet before that, so it turned into plant-based. It was hard because I am really big on sweets. Love ice cream, cakes, and all that good stuff. But once I got into the roll of it, I realized I could have all that stuff. It actually got me more excited about cooking and baking my own things”.


Was the transition to becoming vegan a hard one? 

Brisa: “Honestly not really, My family and I would eat meat on occasion and it was mostly fish. I have always been a big veggie eater and that was what my diet was composed of anyways. Plus my mom and I love to cook and this really opened a new world of experimenting and being creative which we love”! 

Leilani: “It isn’t hard once you stop thinking that you’re missing out on things. It also made me feel light, which I loved for surfing. And I started to learn about how much it helps the environment. So I’ve stuck to it mainly for environmental and animal rights reasons.  I feel like keeping a healthy relationship with food is important. I feel like everything depends on where you live and what is available, but it definitely makes me feel fuller knowing I’m doing my very best to take care of our beautiful world”.

What is your favourite plant based meal? 

Brisa: “My favorite vegan meal would be a sushi bowl with the works – Avo, sesame cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes etc. and my mom’s chocolate cake 🙂

Leilani: “My favourite meal would have to be pinto (a traditional costa rican breakfast food) with avo, patacones (fried plantains) and salsa”. 

I hope that my family, Brisa and Leilani have given you insight into how to live an awesome plant based / vegan lifestyle. I know it isn’t for everyone, however, i truly believe that this decision has completely changed our life in and out of the water for the better. 


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