Claire Faulknor

Claire Faulknor

PLANT POWERED PRO SOCCER PLAYER

 

I met Claire at a Juicebar I used to work at. She always ordered the most beautiful customizable acai bowl. I’m talking cacao nibs, hemp seeds, golden berries, an almond butter and peanut butter drizzle, all on top of a brown smoothie bowl base. Okay that doesn’t sound as pretty as it was but I’m telling you!!! It was a beautiful sight to see. We became fast friends and I found out that Claire, at the time, was also a plant-based vegan. I also found out she also played for Houston’s professional women’s soccer team, the Houston Dash, and I had to know what her experience was eating this way all while being as active as she was. So just recently I sat down to find out just what her experience was! Enjoy 🙂

You’re a professional soccer player. First of all, what a cool job you have! How did you start playing soccer? What teams have you played for and who do you currently play for?

I started playing soccer because of one of my friends in my youth was starting a team with her dad being the coach. No one in my family really knew much about soccer. I was playing basketball, softball and swimming. Once I started playing soccer, I loved it. It was different from the other sports I was us

ed to and I liked doing something different that my family knew little about. It allowed me to express myself in my own way.

I went to the University of Florida for four years on a scholarship and then I played in Germany for 1 year for a team called Bayern Munich. Then I played a year and a half for the Houston Dash and now I am in Spain playing for Logroño EDF.

 

You were a regular at a juicebar I used to work at. There I learned that you were a plant-based vegan at the time. I know recently you decided to reincorporate meat back into your diet. Can you tell me a little bit about your journey? What did you like about being a plant-based vegan? What prompted you to try it in the first place? What made you start incorporating meat again?

I really started getting into nutrition when I was in College. I was told when I was in high school by a former trainer that I should watch what I eat, I didn’t find it that important then. Although, I don’t think I ate nearly as bad as others did in my youth. In college I got into it because I majored in applied physiology and kinesiology. I took a nutrition class and other classes that talked about total body optimization and as an athlete having an edge is important. I noticed not a lot of people were disciplined about what they put in their bodies and to me I found that crazy.

Once I started reaping the benefits of eating healthy, it was like I fell down the rabbit hole.

 I was always in search of the next and best diet or food to eat. I followed people on Instagram who were fitness trainers and experts. Eventually I tried being vegan. One of my friends was vegan and persuaded me to try it. I didn’t think it was that hard. I think it just comes down to personal choice, research, and discipline. And for me, I pride myself in discipline. I was vegan twice in my life. First time was when I was in Germany, and the second time was when I was back in the United States.  It was hard being vegan in Germany. I knew no one who was vegan or remotely close to being one. I also wasn’t that knowledgeable on the topic. It was more of me experimenting and playing with my diet. I stopped because I found it difficult at that time and I was breaking out a lot.

I tried it again when I was in the USA because I did more research and I was in my own country where I could easily find what I needed without a language barrier. I felt good and I enjoyed finding Vegan restaurants and like minded people, but I was progressively breaking out again, my digestion wasn’t the greatest, and I was about to leave for Spain to play and I knew it would be hard to stick to it there. So now I’m eating meat again but no diary. Diary scares me a bit and I don’t see a need for it. I feel the same, but my acne and digestion is getting back to normal. I felt ashamed to eating meat again because I was all in on being vegan, but I learned through the process that everyone’s body is different and those that love me (that are Vegan) will understand. I do encourage people to try veganism! I think it’s something to try and experience. There is nothing to lose by trying. You will gain knowledge on different vegetables, fruits, recipes, and find fun ways to get creative in the kitchen.

I know as a professional soccer player, diet is crucial. Was it hard trying to be a vegan? Did you experience pushback at all?

When I was vegan, there was a lot of people who were shocked. I got the typical questions every Vegan gets asked, “where do you get your protein” or “isn’t milk good for your bones?”. I would just gladly educate them on all the research I had done and heard. Some thought I was crazy and some were impressed I could go without eating meat. It was hard at times traveling or playing on a team because a lot of the food we were fed had butter or some animal products in it. I had to pack my own food or go to a nearby grocery store to stock up. But just like any diet the key is discipline and a commitment to yourself.

Even though I am no longer Vegan, doesn’t mean I am no longer discipline. I still have to plan out my meals and decide if I want to stay committed to my plan or not. People say it is work, but isn’t everything in life that’s worth pursuing?!? You really think good things in life just come to you? WAKE UP. People are silly. You have one body, and what you eat not only determines how you feel but also the way you think and operate. It’s all connected.

You mentioned you play for a team in Spain now! Is it easier or harder to eat a plant-based diet there?

I would say it’s hard to be vegan in Spain in the sense that a lot of the meals and food here have milk or some form of meat. With that being said, I don’t think it is any harder than it is in America or wherever your home country is. It’s just only harder because sometimes there is a language barrier and not many people are Vegan.

Favorite restaurant in Houston?

Pepper Tree or Govindas

Favorite dish to cook?

Stir fry with beans and tofu. I love throwing all sorts of veggies together!!!

Favorite treat?

Acai bowl

What does the future hold for Claire?

I don’t know, good question!! Life is so awesome when you are open to every experience and grateful for all the little things and people who come into your life. Right now I am enjoying playing in Spain and experiencing their culture. Currently, I’m trying to learn Spanish. So hopefully I will one day be fluent. I’ve always had a dream to be able to speak another language. I want to keep playing overseas and experiencing different cultures and then maybe down the road be a college coach and share all the experiences I will accumulate along this journey I’m taking. But really I don’t like to think too much about the future, I like enjoying the now and seeing where life takes me! I like food, soccer, nature, people, meditating, and spirituality. So in the future I will be doing something pertaining to those things!

I hope everyone who reads this experiences being vegan at least once in their life and to decides from there what’s best for them!

Much love,

Claire Falknor



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