If you follow ballet darling Juliet Doherty on Instagram—which you probably do—you already know that the two-time Youth America Grand Prix gold medalist is a self-proclaimed "plant-powered ballerina." Doherty has followed a vegan diet for four years now, and though she never forces her lifestyle on her followers or IRL friends, she does love sharing her daily eats and the plant-based meals and snacks that help her perform at her best. Curious as to what that entails? Here's a day in the life of Juliet's meat-and-dairy-free diet.
I always start my day with a big glass of water.
Today, I squeezed the juice of half a lemon in because I have a lemon tree in the yard and a surplus of them to use! I love adding lemon not only for the flavor, but also because they are alkalizing to the body and help restore a balanced pH, they add extra vitamin C to your diet to fight against colds and the flu, and they increase peristalsis, which helps eliminate waste from the body, and cuts down on that bloated feeling.
Then it's oatmeal for breakfast.
Rolled oats are a go-to breakfast food of mine. They're filling, and the complex carbohydrates along with the protein from the oats gives me sustained energy. Plus they're quick and easy to cook!
Here are all the ingredients I used for my breakfast:
- 1⁄2 cup rolled oats
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
- 1 banana
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
I add ground flaxseed for some good omega-3 essential fats. Even Gandhi once said, "Wherever flaxseed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health." I try to incorporate a bit of flaxseed into my food each day either in oats, a smoothie or even salad. The blueberries and banana each have their benefits: antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, the list goes on and on. I always have different fruits with my breakfast, and they make the oats taste sweeter. Natural maple syrup contains trace minerals like zinc, but I really just added it because it's sooo delicious. This all keeps me fueled through three hours of rehearsal in the morning.
Next up: a quick snack before technique class.
I had an apple and 16 oz. of coconut water with a scoop of chocolate plant protein. Fruit is such a great option for fast energy because your body digests it quickly. I love coconut water, which replenishes the electrolytes lost while sweating. Sometimes I add a bit of plant protein powder if I feel like I want more protein that day. The protein powder I use is a blend of proteins sourced from peas, brown rice, and hemp. Nutrient dense and yummy!
After class, it's time for lunch.
I got lunch from a smoothie bar. I love smoothies because you can pack a lot of nutrition in and you won't feel stuffed while you're dancing. Here's what was in my green smoothie:
- 1 large banana
- 1 cup mango
- 1 cup kale
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 tbsp coconut butter
- 16 oz coconut water
Then it's time for a two-hour pas de deux class, followed by dinner.
Finally, time to go home and have dinner! I kept it quick and simple tonight by making a salad and popping a sweet potato in the oven. My salad was super high-protein and took less than five mins to put together. Here's what I ate:
- 1 large handful of arugula
- 1⁄2 head of romaine heart lettuce
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 cups of garbanzo beans
- 1⁄4 cup raw sprouted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp fig balsamic dressing
- 1 large baked sweet potato
Everyone knows how important it is to get your greens each day. Maybe I'm weird, but I love salads and enjoy the taste of fresh raw veggies. Beans and lentils are so good for you, so I aim to have at least a cup a day. By using two cups of garbanzo beans in my salad I added 30 grams of protein! I topped my salad with some raw sprouted pumpkin seeds. Studies have shown that sprouting seeds boosts their nutritional value and makes them easier to digest. Today I opted for a dressing without oil, but other times when I have fewer fats throughout the day I like to add a little olive oil to my salad.
I'm not afraid of fats!
Natural plant fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds are necessary for the mind and body to function properly. Especially as highly active people, we need fats to recover and repair.
An extra active day requires a stretch and a late-night snack.
If I have time, I like to stretch at night. I feel that helps me sleep better, because my muscles are more relaxed, and I wake up less sore. Tonight I stretched for 30 minutes. A little later in the night, I had a cereal craving. It's important to listen to my body when it's telling me it needs more nourishment! I ate one cup of Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal with a cup of organic soy milk. Kashi cereals are my favorite; they're minimally processed compared to most cereals, and they have very few ingredients, which is always better when it comes to eating packaged foods. I make sure my milk is organic and non-GMO.
Why did I go vegan?
When I ate animal products, I used to have chronic stomachaches. I was always so bloated and uncomfortable. Since eliminating meat and dairy from my diet, I don't get the stomachaches, I feel lighter, and I'm more energized. That's a great feeling to have when you spend the whole day in a leotard, and need to be dancing intensely. I rarely get sick, and have never had a dance-related injury. And I've found it's not hard to nourish my body and thrive as a plant-based athlete.
Here's my advice for going animal-free.
Eat mindfully! Choose foods that will best support your training, performances and recovery. Fueling my body properly is something I consider essential to feeling and performing my best!