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Flying in the Face of Fear

Flying in the Face of Fear

Get ready to be inspired! Recently, we had the honor of interviewing one of the most adventurous people we know. Angela Proudfoot takes extreme sports to the extreme. From drag racing to BASE jumping to wingsuiting – all while committed to a full-time job she loves - she certainly knows how to live life to the fullest.

Read on to learn more about this inspiring vegan.

22 Days Nutrition: Where did you grow up?

Angela Proudfoot: I grew up in Howard County, Maryland, not too far from Baltimore City. I never really liked the country and from a very young age, knew that I'd eventually live in an urban city.

22D: Where do you live now?

AP: I live in the 14th Street Corridor in Washington, DC. It's a vibrant neighborhood that was completely rebuilt into one of the liveliest neighborhoods in DC with upscale bars, restaurants, cafes, boutique fitness studios and shops. I barely have a need to leave my neighborhood on the weekends because everything I want to do is within a few blocks. Everything, that is, except for skydiving and BASE jumping.


Photo: Putzography
 

22D: Tell us about your path to becoming a vegan.

AP: From a very young age, I knew I wanted to make the most of life and wanted to live as long as I possibly could. I began researching the diseases that eventually contributed to the demise of my ancestors and every one of them was highly correlated with meat consumption, e.g., heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

I also grew up with a lot of companion animals--I even raised homing pigeons as a young child. So, it was health concerns and a love for animals that influenced my decision to become a vegetarian at the age of 15.

Shortly thereafter, I started learning about factory farming and decided that I wanted to live a lifestyle that contributes very little (if at all) to the cruelty or suffering of living beings. That is when I became vegan.

Knowing that, through the actions I take and the decisions I make, I don't directly contribute to animal suffering allows me to sleep peacefully at night. I spent many years as an animal activist--regularly out on the street speaking for those who could not speak for themselves. And now my activism comes in the form of a vegan blog, which allows me to reach an even broader audience while still continuing to make a difference in this world.

22D: On your blog, you share reviews of the amazing vegan dishes you find around the world. What are your favorite restaurants? Do you have a favorite city for vegan food?

AP: I love to eat and definitely consider myself a vegan foodie. I especially love to eat healthily. I have so many favorite restaurants that it is hard to name just a few.

And please don't make me pick a favorite city for vegan food! I love Chicago, New York City, San Francisco (including the Bay area), Los Angeles, and, of course, Washington, DC. 

Some of my favorite restaurants are Alinea and Upton's Breakroom in Chicago; 00+Co, Gobo, and Candle 79 in NYC; Millennium, Gracias Madre, and The French Laundry in the San Francisco Bay Area; Plant Food and Wine, Cafe Gratitude, and Crossroads in Los Angeles; and Kapnos, Elizabeth's Gone Raw, Equinox, Busboys and Poets, doi moi, Oyamel, and Rasika in DC.

22D:  You live such an inspiring life. Racecar driver, Skydiver, BASE jumper, Wingsuit Flyer, Yogi... oh and a full-time day job! How does one find the time? What's next?

AP: How do I have the time? Well...I'm a firm believer that you make time for what you want to make time for in your life. I never say, "I don't have the time." I always say, "I don't make the time to do x." Because you have to prioritize your interests.

When I graduated college and decided to build a racecar, I put 100% of my time into building my team and the Angela Proudfoot Racing brand and I drag raced professionally for six years. It was amazing. Then, when I put a pause on racing, I knew I needed something else.

That's when I decided I wanted to wingsuit BASE jump. So, in 2007, I obtained my first skydiving license. In 2008, I started BASE jumping. And, in 2009, I started wingsuiting. All of this culminated in me jumping my wingsuit off a mountain for the first time in 2016. Wingsuit BASE is where my heart is and is where I'm focusing most of my time this year. It was always the ultimate goal and I finally reached it last year!

You mention that I'm also a yogi--yes, I love yoga! Yoga has changed who I am for the better and I practice it regularly. I took advantage of my downtime during the cold months this year and completed yoga teacher training. I look forward to teaching yoga classes in the near future.

All of the things I've mentioned thus far are my passions. But, I also work full-time in human resources and believe it or not, I have a passion for my career as well. But, truthfully, nothing has ever been closer to my heart than flying that wingsuit. If I had to choose just one activity, that is what I would do.

What's next? Good question. I don't know! I'm really just continuing to hone my skills as a wingsuit flyer. I recently set my 14th record in wingsuit formation this year and there's so much more I can do. I currently hold the world record in wingsuit formation flying with 60 other badass flyers.

This year, I'm heading to Italy and Switzerland to work on progressing further as a wingsuit BASE athlete. I was also accepted into the Apollo Games in Greece as one of 45 athletes who will jump off a cliff in the Greek Isles for several days. I'm really looking forward to these two trips and continuing to hone my skills to become a better athlete!


Photo: Marie Emerson
 

22D:  How does your plant-based diet play a part in your sports activity?

AP: As I mentioned, I've been veg for a long time. But, it wasn't until I had a devastating BASE jumping accident in 2009 that I really started focusing on nutrition. I was BASE jumping at an event in Norway when I crashed foot-first into a boulder shattering my heel bone and breaking my ankle.

They said I'd never walk normally again, but I proved them wrong. I spent a year recovering in physical therapy and during that time, I focused on ensuring I was putting all-natural foods into my body and balancing my nutritional needs with the right amount of calcium and protein for strong, healthy bones.

At my final visit with my surgeon a year after my accident, he asked if I drank a lot of [cow's] milk. I laughed and reminded him that I'm vegan. I told him that plant-based sources of calcium are actually better for absorption that animal-based ones and that's part of why my recovery was so successful. He said I had the worst heel break he'd ever seen and the best recovery he'd ever seen. I am very proud of that.

Nowadays, I eat very healthily. I attended the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder in 2010 to learn how to cook even better and in 2011, I obtained a certification to teach cooking classes. Eating cleanly (limiting processed foods, additives, and artificial ingredients) through my plant-based, vegan diet as well as working out nearly every day by practicing yoga, trapeze, barre and running keeps me strong and light and enables me to perform at the top of my game.

22D:  Is there a mantra or quote that sums up how you live your life?

AP: Simply put--I live life to its fullest. No regrets.

22D: You have such a passion for living life to the fullest. What advice do you have for others that want to try new things but may have some fear about getting out there?

AP: Just do it. I remember a key moment in my life when I was very young--I was at a party and the adults kept saying, "I wish I had..." I kept wondering, "Why didn't they just follow through?"

It was at that moment that I decided that if there was anything I desired to do in life, that I would just do it. I did not want to look back at my life and have a bunch of "I wish I hads." 

So, just do it. Do whatever your heart desires. Follow your dreams. And don't let anyone or anything hold you back. You have one life and one chance to live life to its fullest. You never fail if you at least try. But, if you never try, you'll never know what could have become.

I may not always succeed in others' eyes, but I'll be darned if I don't die trying. Because life is just too short not to.

22D: Thank you Angela! You continue to inspire us!

If you’d like to follow Angela’s adventures and read her reviews of vegan restaurants around the world, head on over to her blog

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