SI Swim Model Christen Harper Talks Embracing a Plant-Based Lifestyle

The 2022 co-Rookie of the Year also provides her favorite iced matcha latte recipe.
Christen Harper

Christen Harper.

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It’s been about 10 years since SI Swimsuit model Christen Harper adopted a more plant-based lifestyle. Her philosophy is simple: eating and incorporating more plants into your everyday diet (no matter your reasoning) is always a good thing.

Everyone has their own motivation for changing their eating habits or diet, and the model was happy to share exactly what encouraged her to do so in an exclusive interview with the SI Swimsuit team. She also offered her take on exactly why a plant-based lifestyle can be so good for you. So, if you’re considering adopting more of her mentality, consider Harper’s thoughts, below.

Her reasoning

No one will have the exact same reason for changing the way they eat—and, of course, that’s O.K. It’s not really about why you do it, but that the change you make is both healthy and meaningful. It was certainly both of those things for Harper.

Plant-based eating for her is rooted in a love for animals. Prior to becoming plant-based, she watched a few documentaries about animals and food production. They “just made me think,” she explains. “I’ve always been a huge, huge animal lover, and I just don't want to cause any harm to any animals.”

But, more than that, plant-based eating makes her feel good, both physically and mentally. Since adopting the lifestyle, “I’ve just felt better. I know it’s good for the environment, it just makes me feel light and easy and I feel like I'm doing my part in a way,” she says.

Why it’s good for you

Not all lifestyles will fit your specific needs, and Harper knows that. In fact, she experienced it firsthand. For several years, she was a strict vegan, but found that it was a bit too rigid for her taste. Since, she has become "a little more relaxed when I’m out and about,” but “still at home always [tries] to reach for plant-based things.” At the end of the day, those products are just what make her “feel the best,” she says.

In the same vein, she wouldn’t suggest that everyone has to follow strictly the plant-based regimen. “It doesn’t have to be so black-and-white. People can just introduce more plants into their diet and that’s always going to be a good thing.”

“I think most people that have tried eating plant-based generally feel energetic, or they feel good,” she says. But Harper also recognizes that there are pitfalls where the lifestyle is concerned. “Sometimes you can eat very unhealthy and be plant-based,” she explains. Oreos, after all, are vegan, she notes. But “as long as you’re feeding your body nutritionally,” you will feel good.

At the end of the day, the 30-year-old recognizes that “it’s all about what works for you,” a lesson that she learned firsthand.

One of her favorite simple morning recipes

Harper was happy to share some of her favorite (and very simple) plant-based recipes. None are too complicated, which means they are the perfect way to test out a more plant-based diet (which, as she noted before, could just mean incorporating more plants into your meals).

Sipping on an iced matcha with homemade almond milk (rather than cow’s milk) could be a very fun way to begin shifting your plant-based intake. Here’s Harper’s “perfect iced matcha latte” recipe, which she learned how to make on a recent trip to Japan.

Iced matcha latte with homemade almond milk

Homemade almond milk

  • 1 c. raw almonds (soaked overnight)
  • 5 c. water
  • 2 dates
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • A pinch of sea salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the liquid using a nut milk bag or a really thin clean dish towel. Transfer almond milk to a jar and use within four to five days.

Perfect iced matcha latte

  • 2 tsp. ceremonial grade matcha
  • 2 tbsp. hot water
  • 1 c. warm water 
  • Ice
  • Homemade almond milk (or whatever you have on hand)

In a small bowl, add matcha powder and hot water. Whisk vigorously until combined. Add the rest of the warm water and whisk until combined. If Harper has time, she will cool the mixture down in the refrigerator for a few minutes before pouring it over ice and adding in the homemade almond milk.

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Martha Zaytoun


Martha Zaytoun is a Lifestyle & Trending News writer for SI Swimsuit. Before joining the team, Martha worked on the editorial board of the University of Notre Dame’s student magazine and on the editorial team at Chapel Hill, Durham and Chatham Magazines in North Carolina. When not working, Martha loves to watercolor and oil paint, run or water ski. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a huge Fighting Irish fan.