Kristen Santos-Griswald is a speed skater who has competed at the Olympics, world championships and more.
Competing from 500m to 3000m (short course), she has 13 World Cup bronze medals, six silvers and two gold. In the Four Continents she’s taken three Golds. At National level, the American continues to compete successfully; in 2023/4 she won three Golds at the Nationals.
“My greatest achievements are competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics and winning Gold on the world stage” Kristen says. “Qualifying and competing in the Olympics was definitely my favorite achievement to date. It was something I had dreamt about for so long and worked so hard for. But the best part about it was that when I qualified, it was as if my whole family qualified along with me.
“I couldn’t have done it without their sacrifices and support of drives early morning drives to the rinks, buying a house right next to the training facility, helping me with finances because I couldn’t work with my training schedule, and everything in between.”
Kristen has never eaten meat – she was raised vegetarian. In 2018 she made the change to fully vegan.
“I began questioning how I felt about the dairy and egg industry morally and ultimately decided that I didn’t agree with it” she told Great Vegan Athletes. “I’ve always loved animals so much and don’t want to contribute to anything that could be harmful to them. When I switched to a fully plant-based diet, I also began feeling just overall so much better and began skating better too.”
“As far as animal cruelty goes, I think any changes a person can make, no matter how little can make a huge difference.”
“I fully believe it’s possible, if not, more beneficial to compete and succeed as a vegan.”
“When traveling, things can definitely get a little tricky but I make it work. Often I have to pack a suitcase of just food for myself and lots of protein powder to make sure I’m all set. I use Vega sport protein as it’s certified for sport and safe to take as an athlete.”
Life is demanding for Kristen, and in 2021 aged 26 she felt that it might be her last season. A few events, including a crash in the Olympic final when she was in a medal position made her think again. She’s now looking ahead to future challenges.
“We train 6 to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. Our training consists of a wide variety of things. Obviously we have skating specific training, which is on ice as well as dryland, which is skating specific off ice work. Then we do a lot of biking and running work outs, as well as weights a few times a week.”
Fuelling this is not a problem.
“I love tacos, pastas, salads, bowls, really everything.”
“There’s nothing I miss out on because I’m vegan. There are so many great alternatives to animal products! Personally one of my favorite foods are vegan Buffalo wings, but that’s something I just get out at restaurants.”
Team members are interested and Kristen doesn’t tend to get any criticism.
“It’s really cool to see because a lot of them have become more interested in it and have begun adding fully plant based meals to their diet.”
Kristen is far from finished and looks forward to challenges.
“My ultimate hope and plan is to go to the Olympics again, which will be in 2026. But with that, I want to be dominant in the sport, I want to go a win gold at the Olympics.”
“As far as animal cruelty goes, I think any changes a person can make, no matter how little can make a huge difference. Simple things like opting for oat milk with your coffee or participating in meat free Mondays, is a great place to start! So if completely cutting animal products out of your life seems daunting, start small and progress from there if you can.
“As far as skating and life goes, it’s all about enjoying the journey and not being overly focused on the destination.”