When Kara Lawson, star of the WNBA Connecticut Sun, made the decision to go vegan several years ago, she became one of the few athletes to succeed in making such a radical diet change. With the support of her husband, she has changed her lifestyle and feels better than ever.
Making the commitment to a vegan lifestyle is not easy. For a professional athlete whose schedule revolves around travel and whose training regimen depends on protein-rich foods, the change takes that much more dedication. Together with her husband, WNBA star Kara Lawson has not only changed the way she eats but has created a website full of healthy recipes and tips on helping you attain your health goals.
SheKnows: Can you tell us what made you decide to go vegan?
Kara Lawson: I first went vegetarian in the spring of 2011 when I realized I just really didn't have a taste for meat. I wasn't enjoying eating it so decided to make the change and see how I felt playing and working out. My biggest concern was the protein in my diet and how I would still get what I needed without meat.
After six months or so I took out dairy. I did it with my husband, and we were both surprised at how good we felt and what it did to our bodies. Once we decided to go fully vegan, that is when the reconstruction of my diet truly began.
SK: You and your husband seem to manage your career and lifestyle so well, how do you do it?
KL: I owe so much of our success to my husband, I really couldn't do it without him. He does the meal planning and prep and makes sure that I am getting what I need to keep up with the demands of my schedule. We have created a website, Laws on Wellness, full of recipes and tips to help others achieve the lifestyle we have.
SK: Any tips on maintaining a vegan lifestyle while on the go?
KL: When I'm on the road the first thing I do is look for nearby grocery stores and markets. Regular fast food places and restaurants don't usually cater to my diet, so I have to find places that will work for me. We also do a lot of prep ahead of time, making sure I have plenty of meals and snacks that are convenient for me to grab when I'm on the go and in between games or practices.
Here are some of Kara's favorite vegan recipes.
Cheesy zucchini with marinara sauce recipe
- 2 zucchini
- Marinara sauce (recipe follows)
- Nut cheese (recipe follows)
- Using a spiral slicer, mandolin slicer with a julienne blade or even a sharp knife, carefully shred the raw zucchini.
- Toss raw zucchini noodles with cheese. Divide onto plates and top with warm marinara sauce.
Marinara sauce recipe
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, softened
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 4 dates, soaked until soft and pitted
- 2 tablespoons water (if needed)
- 1 teaspoon Italian spices
- Drop garlic into a food processor and finely chop. Add remaining marinara ingredients and process until smooth.
- In a saucepan, heat marinara sauce over medium-high heat.
Nut cheese recipe
- 1 cups macadamias, soaked 4 hours or more
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 yellow pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water (as needed)
- Process all nut cheese ingredients together, adding as little of the water as possible until a fluffy consistency is achieved.
Fantastic kale salad recipe
- 1 bunch of kale (about 8 large leaves), stems removed and thinly sliced into bite-size pieces
- 1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 zucchini, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh green beans, snapped into bite-size pieces
- 1 avocado, peeled, cubed, and tossed with lemon juice
- 12 strawberries, cut into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces
- Sea salt
- Place kale into a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and massage into kale. Scrunch the kale in your hands.
- Toss with cucumber, zucchini, green beans and avocado. Top with strawberries and lemon-tahini dressing (recipe follows).
Make a note
Don't worry, kale is not fragile. You won't hurt it. You will notice the kale will shrink in size, become more fragrant and turn a brighter shade of green.
Lemon tahini dressing recipe
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 olive oil
- 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- Sea salt to taste
- Place all ingredients in food processor, blender or bowl. Mix until well mixed.
More on healthy eating
5 Simple tips for healthy eating on the go
Healthy eating habits for busy families
Vegetarian panini recipes we love