Ben Reedy says he recovers faster from workouts since he stopped eating meat, dairy and eggs in May.

The 25-year-old Tucson-area firefighter says his mother has been a vegan for a decade, but he finally got motivated to embrace plant-based eating after attending a Healthy You Network symposium with her in May. Speakers included an ultramarathon runner and retired Austin, Texas, firefighter Rip Esselstyn, who wrote “The Engine 2 Diet.”

A former high school and college wrestler, Reedy says he continues to build muscle at least as easily, if not better, than before. “I also feel like my cardio has gotten better as well.”

He lost about 16 pounds the first month, and no longer gets heartburn. He also expects good results from his next cholesterol test.

“I feel like I have more energy in the day, as long as I keep eating my meals,” he says.

Reedy finds he does get hungry every two hours, eschewing processed, calorie-dense fast foods for whole foods such as rice, black beans, hummus and stir-fry.

His girlfriend also committed to the new way of eating, and they now make meals such as veggie sloppy Joes, cooking with vegetable stock instead of added oils.

Reedy’s fire crew has switched to vegan dinners when he is on shift. “They’ve been getting creative,” Reedy says.

Urban Fresh, at 73 E. Pennington St. downtown, has become one of his favorite restaurants.

But he’s also found many restaurants are more than happy to leave dairy and meat out of dishes. “It’s not too hard as long as you’re not scared to speak up,” he says.

It’s definitely easier to eat out than when his mom became vegan, he says.

“The movement is growing in Tucson, and it’s going to keep getting easier.”

Inger Sandal

Contact reporter Johanna Willett at or 573-4357.