Stephanie Jane Rowden
Bikini competitor and vegan role model Stephanie Rowden is the first vegan WBFF pro in the UK. This achievement came after winning first place in the prestigious Las Vegas, World Championships in 2014.
I think everything happens for a reason in life, when we’re ready to open up to it.
We were lucky enough to ask Stephanie some questions on her vegan lifestyle and how she started out in the fitness industry.
What inspired you to get involved in fitness?
My sister has always been into some sort of fitness, so when I moved back from America to live with her in Surrey, I started working in a gym as a receptionist and Kelly started training me. But the very first time was when we ran the 5k to raise money for cancer. We’ve lost a few friends and family due to cancer, so this really pushed me to do it. I remember my first run a few weeks before the 5k and I didn’t last 5 minutes! I started running with Kelly everyday and when I couldn’t go on she would motivate me to keep going. Then on the day of the 5k I was so proud that I didn’t stop once. From then on the love for fitness just grew and grew.
What is your proudest moment?
Apart from my first ever charity run, it’s got to be getting my pro card with The WBFF in Las Vegas, 2014… As a vegan. It was quite a quick prep because I wasn’t going to compete. My sister was going to be competing and 8 weeks out, we went for a meal and I decided I was going to do it with her and that I was going to come back with a trophy. My goal was to come back a vegan pro. It still feels very surreal and I’m so grateful for being awarded 1st in the world championships because there was some pretty amazing women on that stage. When I was on stage, I was called out as the top 5 and I was smiling at Kelly in the audience like “Yey! I got top 5 that’s good enough for me!” And I thought it was over. I was waiting to get off stage to celebrate. Then when I heard my name being called for first place and pro card, I just burst into tears.
How did your vegan lifestyle start and why did you continue?
I was actually mid competition prep when I went vegetarian. I was working in Belgium, I had been talking to a few veggies and vegans I know as my curiosity was starting to wake up and I had watched a few videos on factory farming. I was sitting at the bus stop after the gym, pulled out my Tupperware of chicken and I just couldn’t eat it. The next day, I stopped eating meat. Because I wasn’t very knowledgable on vegan competition preps and the dairy and egg industry, I carried on as a vegetarian for a week. Then the day after my competition, I cut out the eggs and cheese. Containing just came naturally and easy to me. I felt energised and as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It felt good knowing that I wasn’t contributing towards the suffering of other beings. I also loved vegetarian food and vegetables when I wasn’t vegan, and I am a qualified chef so I know a little bit about food. I researched more into the vegan lifestyle and had fun trying all the different types of food and creating recipes.
What’s the funniest thing someone has asked you regarding your vegan diet?
Ohhhh which do I choose!! I don’t get annoyed at questions from people because I think they generally don’t know. I get the usual ones but someone once asked me .. “Can you eat cooked carrots?”. I think the confusion came from this person thinking I was raw vegan.
What does your day-to-day nutrition plan look like?
When I’m not prepping for a competition or shoot, I tend to be flexible with my food. I like to start my day with 1 pint of water with 10g glutamine, B12 and a multi vitamin. I usually drink some super greens in the morning but ive started taking Food Revolutions, Marine Phytoplankton which is a very micro nutrient dense sea algae! Breakfast could be protein oats with Sunwarrior chocolate protein. I drink decaf English breakfast tea with hemp milk or peppermint with a dash of hemp as well as lots of water. Then through out the day I’ll eat white potatoes, black bean pasta, vegetable curries, salads, gluten free bread, tempeh, mushroom wraps with violife cheese, nut butters. I have a food sensitivities that make my tummy bloat very badly so I have to stay away from the usual culprits like broccoli, cabbage, tofu, refined sugar and caffeine. But when I train glutes, I tend to indulge a little as there’s got to be some balance. When I’m prepping I don’t lower my carbs too much, but I track everything I eat and have to stay focused and meal prep.
What would ‘vegan you’ say to ‘non-vegan’ you before you made the plant based transition?
I actually wrote an article called, “13 things I would tell my former my non-vegan self” which you can find on the website. I think everything happens for a reason in life, when we’re ready to open up to it. I think I would just say, it’s not easy because not everyone agrees with it. But this is what feels right for you and there’s support out there and you’ll be very surprised at who your supports will be. Approach everyone with compassion, no matter what and please don’t take people’s comments to heart.
Favourite cheat food?
There’s so many! Papa johns garden party pizza with pineapple & violife cheese and a big vego bar is my favourite at the moment. But there’s a restaurant in Cornwall called, The Bean Inn and whenever I’m there, I make sure i have a cheat meal there! It’s soooo tasty. I also like a glass of prosecco and they have one called Wild Thing Organic prosecco, and some of the money goes towards rescuing lions, gorillas and lots of other wild animals.
Anything glute or shoulder based. My sister and I who run, The Fittsisters, are a little glute obsessed. If I HAD to choose one glute exercise, I think it would be a smith machine, single leg squat. It really gets my glutes activated and burning. My favourite shoulder exercise is a dumbbell front raise around to side raise and back down. It’s a burner!
We talked about an Animal Sanctuary charity and fund page, can you tell us a little bit more about this?
Yes! A friend of mine, Brooke, posted about an animal sanctuary she has been helping with for a long time. The lady who runs it, Sara, lives in a caravan at the sanctuary, but it has no running water and she looks after 300 animals, some of which are disabled. She also works with disabled children, and never turns down an animal in need. They need some help as they work with donations only. I would love to help Sara’s living conditions and also raise money to help towards helping the animals. I’m asking for donations towards this for my birthday. Myself and the sanctuary (who don’t know of my fundraising yet!), would be so grateful for any help. You can donate at my go fund me page.
Connect with Stephanie Jane Rowden
Instagram: @stephanie_rowden_wbff_pro and @fitt_sisters