TJ Galiardi is a retired professional ice hockey player, he started playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2007-8, returning to his home town where he joined Calgary Hitmen early in that season. TJ was named the #2 rookie in the WHL with 70 points, leading the whole league in playoff scoring.
In 2010 he was added to Team USA for the World Championships in Cologne, Germany.
He went on to play for the Colorado Avalanche where he played in the National Hockey League, earning a reputation as a versatile forward. Later on he played in Germany, Sweden, Croatia and Russia.
The much-travelled dual citizen retired in 2018.
“My greatest achievement in hockey was fulfilling my dream of playing in the NHL” TJ told Great Vegan Athletes in 2018 “and I was lucky enough to spend 7+ years in the league.”
TJ went vegan after several years as a professional. “During my time as a professional athlete I was always learning about nutrition and its effects on performance” he explains “I was always tweaking my diet to help recovery, sleep and overall wellbeing. As I continued to take a deep dive into the benefits of a plant based diet, I eventually jumped in 100% and never looked back.”
During a trip to Prague in 2015 with his wife, things fell into place and he made the change. “I have been able to stay away from animal products since then which included parts of 2 seasons in Russia” he says.
As a vegan Canadian ice hockey player, TJ joins dozens of elite sportspeople in North America thriving on a vegan diet, including ice hockey’s Georges Laraque. Unfortunately Russia was less accepting.
“During my time in Russia it was mind blowing to my teammates and the staff that it was possible to just survive as a vegan, let alone perform at a high level in sport. Unfortunately they aren’t as open minded out there as we are in North America when it comes to personal lifestyle choices. That being said, there are some great vegan restaurants in Moscow!”
Now retired, TJ keeps fit with tennis, yoga, pilates and hiking. “I’m always trying new vegan restaurants in every new city I visit, which is very frequently as I travel a lot. I love Indian food and the vegan options are vast; some of my favourites are daal tadka, mushroom bhaji and curries.”
He’s also making changes through business, and has started a supplement company and a company that utilises food waste.
“I love the direction we are headed when it comes to being vegan” TJ says “it’s becoming much easier every day to find options that align with our lifestyle and I’m optimistic about the changes that are coming in the years to come.”