This interview is with Tino, aka Bananiac, who’s recently graduated with a degree in Dietetics and is en-route to becoming a registered dietitian. He’s also a vegan, avid cyclist, youtuber and plant-based advocate, so be sure to check out Bananiac!
How long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegan since April 2012 so a little over 3 years now.
What led you to the vegan/plant-based path?
During my early college years, I saw my peers develop some bad habits that I didn’t want to get into. I didn’t want to keep living the lifestyle of eating junk food and drinking booze. I wanted more. I experimented with different diets and programs until one day I watched a documentary called “Forks Over Knives.” That documentary changed my life forever. I learned the importance of eating a whole food, plant based diet and what it can do for my health. After I realized that this was the way I wanted to live my life, I began to realize the other beneficial impacts this diet had on the environment and the animals. It soon became a lifestyle rather than just a diet.
Since going plant-based have you experienced any health benefits? Did you find your energy and/or enthusiasm for doing athletic activities changed once going plant-based?
Totally! I used to play soccer and run track & field in high school but I would get tired very easily. Now, I have way more energy and endurance than my late teen years. It’s amazing the kind of transformation the body can go through when you provide it with the right kind of fuel. In addition to seeing improvements athletically, my digestion has improved greatly and I’ve also lost about 20-30 lbs in the process.
What would be a typical day of eating for you? And what benefits have you found to eating this way?
I eat a very basic diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes as my staples. For breakfast, I tend to have fruit, smoothies, dry cereal or oatmeal. Lunch and dinner usually consists of more starchy foods such as baked or mashed potatoes, pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables, or rice and beans. I find that if you stick with your favorite recipes the diet becomes more sustainable and you enjoy the food more.
Cycling the Festive 500 on a Vegan Diet
Are there any plant-based doctors and/or resources you would particularly recommend to others?
I would HIGHLY recommend people watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives.” It is such an informative and entertaining documentary that can help educate anyone who is curious of adopting a healthy plant based diet. Some of my heroes in the nutrition/medical field are Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Dr. Michael Greger of nutritionfacts.org, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn to name a few. You can also find interviews on my second YouTube channel, “Symposium Films,” that I’ve conducted with these inspiring people.
Tino with Dr. Neal Barnard
What led you to decide to pursue a university degree in dietetics? And how did you choose the school and program to go to?
Going into college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I initially pursued psychology. That lasted for a semester until I switched to an astronomy major. I LOVED studying the stars and the physical world but I didn’t see myself practicing in that particular field. Finally, I decided I was going to tell people to eat fruits & vegetables for a living. A big influence for pursuing a degree in dietetics was because I wanted to do something that I really loved studying (nutrition) and that I could offer my community something worthwhile. It was around the same time when I started to transition to a plant based diet. It was quite the revelation.
What would you like to be able to do with that knowledge? Do you feel like having a recognized degree will help enable you to spread the plant-based message in a particular, or a more unique way?
Making YouTube videos is great for reaching a large number of people with this message. However, it still leaves a lot of people who are not being reached such as those in the hospitals, schools, and underserved communities. I really want to reach those who are in need of this knowledge the most.
Tino with Dr. John McDougall
Although you are an avid follower of numerous plant-based doctors and health care professionals, the plant-based approach is not yet mainstream. Was it difficult or frustrating taking nutrition classes when you likely had very different views to what were, at times, being taught?
It was frustrating. Likely, I had a great group of classmates who shared similar views about plant based nutrition as I did. It was really nice having that kind of support during that time. However, not all of the information was controversial. In fact, much of it was very supportive of the plant based diet. Most of the information we were taught was basic, yet essential, knowledge such as chronic diseases, eating disorders, enteral/parenteral feedings, various surgical procedures, policies and regulations, etc. Although some of those lectures were difficult to sit through and listen to those recommendations, I am glad I went through it as it gave me a good perspective on the field of dietetics.
Do you think it gives you an added perspective, to know just what “mainstream” nutritionists are being taught and the information they are consequently divulging and sharing with others?
I do believe it was important for me to learn the standard recommendations for medical nutrition therapy so that I can articulate my arguments as a dietitian with a bit more perspective than someone who isn’t familiar with that kind of information.
Is there any advice you would give to others considering a career in nutrition or dietetics, especially if they have an interest in plant-based education?
If your interest lies in helping those in need get healthier through their dietary choices, then I definitely recommend pursuing a degree in dietetics. My advice is to not let the frustration from being taught the opposing information get to you. Focus on those credentials so that you can help share this powerful message with your community.
Now that you’re a recent graduate, and congratulations, do you have any plans or projects for the near future?
Thanks! My primary goal is to complete the dietetic internship and become a registered dietitian. I also want to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition.
Where do you see Bananiac, your YouTube channel and website, where you promote an active, plant-based lifestyle, going in the future? What would you most like to share with others through these resources?
I plan on continuing to upload videos regularly on my YouTube channel “bananiac” and continue reaching people with my message. I also plan on doing more interviews for my second YouTube channel “Symposium Films” that has been on idle since my last year of my undergraduate studies. With all of my videos, my intentions are to educate my viewers and to help inspire others improve their quality of life by making better dietary and lifestyle choices.
Thanks for the interview Tino!
Find Bananiac on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, of course, YouTube as Bananiac and Symposium Films. And check out some great tees on the Bananiac website along with Tino’s experience completing the Festive 500 on a vegan diet!
Read a review of the documentary Forks Over Knives.
And check out the Active Outdoor Vegans series!