How going vegan changed the game for this athlete’s performance and outlook on well-being
What started out as curiosity about plant-based eating quickly led athlete and fitness coach Scott Burgett to a full-fledged lifestyle change after a tearful experience watching the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. The upsetting and graphic content was enough to make him rethink animal products altogether and adopt a vegan diet in 2017—a decision he hasn’t looked back on since. We spoke with Scott (affectionately known on Instagram as Coach Scotty B.) to learn more about his experience with going vegan and about the plant-based coaching programs he offers clients at Evolution Vegan Academy. Continue reading to learn how trading in chicken for chickpeas has changed the game for Scott’s fitness level, business success, and just about everything in between.
Q: Who are some of the public figures or influencers in the vegan community that inspired you at the start of your journey?
A: “The vegan athlete community has really blown up, and there are so many incredible accounts that I follow to stay inspired. One of my favourites is Canadian Youtuber and nutritionist Derek Simnett, of Simnett Nutrition. Derek was sort of a guiding light for me at the beginning of my journey and he helped me to realize that you can build a body off of plants. Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete was also a great resource, particularly when I was training for spartan races. The No Meat Athlete community is mostly about training for running and endurance, and it offers members inspiration, tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet, recipes, and more. IFBB Pro and Founder of Vedge Nutrition, Nimai Delgado, is another inspirational figure for me in the world of bodybuilding and strength training.”
Q: What kind of changes (if any) did you notice in your body when you initially went vegan?
A: “I felt lighter, more energized. Initially I lost weight, and some of that was muscle loss. Then it started to go the other way. I gained weight and got to a point where I was feeling uncomfortable in my body, simply from overeating. Once I found a balanced approach, calculated and started tracking my unique macro code, and dialled in my portions, I started to feel and look more myself, but better.”
Q: Has going vegan changed other aspects of your life?
A: “It took finding a vegan lifestyle and a shift in mindset to get the body and energy I have today. Going vegan has really pushed me to respect my body, but also my mind, meaning I now look at the bigger picture of my wellness and am more diligent about managing stress through meditation and visualization, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and so forth.”
Q: How did you notice that going vegan impacted your athletic performance and recovery?
A: “I think the biggest difference (improvement) that I’ve noticed is my shortened recovery time. I can now hold myself to a high recovery standard which allows me to lift heavy weights five days a week (for eight weeks straight) without feeling muscle exhaustion. I’ve pushed myself to be the strongest I’ve ever been and can truthfully say that my energy levels are at an all-time high. People are always asking how my energy is so consistent, and I always answer: ‘it all boils down to what you put in your mouth.’”
Q: What’s your favourite style of workout? Do you have a favourite recovery technique or tip to share?
A: “When it comes to styles of training, I’ve tried it all. When I first went vegan, I was into ‘functional training’ which covered overall strength and endurance, which kept me at a consistent baseline for physical fitness. Then, I got really into spartan racing, which required me to improve my running. I joined a running club and trained to compete in four races. I also completed a half marathon before COVID hit and shut those down. After spartan racing, I started getting back into a more regimented weight lifting routine at the gym, as this was an area I felt I could support my clients in, in order for them to achieve their goals of getting stronger. Since all of the gyms were closed during COVID, I started getting creative with my home workout plans for both myself and my clients. These included HIIT training workouts, weight lifting and body sculpting exercises which are currently the highest in demand. I use hot yoga as a recovery on my off-days and recommend my clients to do the same. These are a great way to give the muscles a stretch while tapping into your spirituality.”
Q: Are there any podcasts you’re listening to at the moment that are keeping you inspired?
A: “My favourite podcast is by vegan ultra-endurance athlete and wellness advocate Rich Roll. Each podcast episode involves a conversation with a bright mind in health, fitness, nutrition, art, entertainment, entrepreneurship and spirituality to help listeners unlock their best self.”
Q: At the Evolution Academy, how do you help clients achieve weight-loss without restriction?
A: “At Evolution Vegan Academy, we help clients shed fat, build muscle and regain confidence without obnoxious food rules or restrictions. We do this through an inclusive approach, versus an exclusive one. We teach students how to fit in foods that serve them. We then notice that naturally the foods that don’t serve them tend to fall away naturally. The reason for using the term “serving” and “not serving” is because we feel this is a more positive approach than looking at food in a battle of “good” versus “bad”, as this can have a negative impact on our relationship with food. For example, if our client’s goal is to lose 20 pounds, then we look at fitting in foods that serve their goal in an overall nutrition strategy that includes mindful eating, sticking within a certain caloric range, and breaking down their recommended daily intake for protein, carbohydrates and fat based by a unique macro code. Many people expect to drop weight when they first go vegan, but this isn’t always the case. We empower clients by teaching them how to build a meal plan full of nourishing foods that support their health goals.
Q: What are a few of your go-to meals?
A: “My money dish at breakfast time is protein oats. It’s super simple, and uses vegan protein powder, oats, berries, cinnamon. It’s so delicious, has a little sweetness to it, and starts your day off on a satisfying note. For lunch, it’s a buddha bowl with sweet potatoes, seitan, green goddess dressing and greens.”
Scott Burgett is the Founder and Head Coach at Evolution Vegan Academy. Scott is CSCS Certified and Pn1 Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified. He holds a Bachelors’ degree in Exercise Science. If you’re considering going vegan, give Evolution Vegan Academy’s How to Create The Perfect Vegan Fit Meal guide a try. This free meal template takes all of the guesswork out of eating vegan while helping to achieve a lean physique. Grab your copy here.