Tia Blanco, vegan surfer
Tia Blanco has been a successful surfer for many years and has achieved international recognition very early in life. She is a member of the American surfing team and has won several surfing tournaments.
In 2014 she won the NSSA Southwest Women’s U18 season and the Surfing Prime America Womens U18 season. She went on to place 3rd in the World Juniors in the same year. In 2015 she was placed equal 9th at an international competition in New Zealand, the Surf Fest in Port Taranaki. 2014 also saw her placed at number 18 on the Surfer Magazine Hot 100, and in 2015 she was named as number 12.
In 2013 she won the Huntingdon Beach event, which was the third and final stage of the American Pro Surfing series. In 2014 she was voted OC Register OC Surfer of the Year - Rising Star. In 2015 she competed in the Ron Jon Jr Pro in Florida, also taking first place (read more here). This was all before turning 18 (in May 2015).
Since then she has become World Champion after winning the World Surfing Games in August 2016 - just over a year after progressing from junior to full adult competition.
“I have been a vegetarian since I was born and I just became vegan about 2 years ago [in 2013]” Tia told us just after the Ron Jon Jr win.
Tia was motivated both by health consideration and the topic of animal cruelty. “I did a lot of research about diet and saw what they did to animals on a documentary called, 'Behind Glass Walls'. I also read 'The China Study' and watched 'Forks Over Knives'. What I found was pretty horrific and informative at the same time. I knew from that point on I was going to switch to a vegan diet."
Travelling has presented some challenges to Tia, although she always manages so keep a good standard of food. “I try to eat raw most of the time but sometimes when I travel it is very difficult because the availability of vegan food is very limited depending on where I am. So, sometimes I'm forced to eat a lot of foods like pasta, brown rice and bread.” She also eats a lot of fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, grains and legumes.
Other people in the sports often ask predictable questions such as ‘where do you get your protein’, and she’s also had her share of pointless jokes, although she says “they haven't said anything that I haven't already heard before.” Luckily she has a number of vegetarian friends among the surfers she knows.
Tia has also created a range of capsule jewellery, and arranged for part of the sales to be passed to PETA (which can be seen here).
Further plans include competing in the US Open of Surfing and trying to qualify for the World Tour. She also has competitions on the US team, NSSA and Surfing Prime series. “I hope to make a difference in the world by sharing my diet and lifestyle” she told us. “I just want to travel the world, surf incredible places, smile a lot, make others smile, be inspired, and inspire.”
In September 2015 she competed in her first competition as an adult, where she made the quarter finals (read more here).
2016 saw her win the World Surfing Games and become World champion (read more here).
More about Tia elsewhere online