Model Christen Harper Addresses Misconceptions About Plant-Based Eating

The three-time SI Swim model assures us that embracing the lifestyle isn’t as difficult as it seems.
Christen Harper

Christen Harper.

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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Christen Harper has been eating a plant-based diet for about 10 years now. As such, there’s no doubt she’s heard her fair share of criticism of the lifestyle. It’s a diet that garners a lot of misunderstanding and gives rise to misconceptions.

The model handles it with her characteristic grace and positivity, though. It’s important to her to correct those misconceptions and prove to others that embracing a plant-based lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean radically changing your diet.

Misconceptions about plant-based eating

Eating plant-based doesn’t have to be so “black and white,” Harper says in an interview with SI Swim. It doesn’t have to be so rigid as cutting out all animal products. She did go vegan for a while, but found that it was a bit too “rigid.” Now, she tries to eat mostly plant-based foods, but she doesn’t force it. At the end of the day, “It’s all about what works for you,” she reminds us. 

Which is to say, if eating completely plant-based is too difficult, simply try mixing more plants into your diet. Embracing a plant-based lifestyle could mean simply “mak[ing] the swap from eating animal-based food for breakfast” to “oats” or another non-animal option.

Some of the hesitation that might keep people from making that sort of switch and embracing a plant-based lifestyle is grounded in a common misconception about the diet. People tend to think that if you’re eating plant-based, “you’re not getting enough protein,” she remarks.

But that’s not necessarily the case.

Harper is “always getting enough protein,” she says. The most unassuming foods have protein: “broccoli and brown rice and beans,” she tells us. Recently, she’s picked up weightlifting and has thus been trying to increase her protein intake. To do that, she’s added lentils, soybeans and edamame into her rotation. Beyond that, she is a big proponent of nut butters and seeds, which she adds to salads and smoothies for a good protein boost.

How she achieves a plant-based diet on a daily basis

Most days, you can find Harper in the kitchen, making her delicious plant-based meals. She prefers the daily habit to meal prepping. But meal prepping does come in handy sometimes.

One of her favorite things to make in advance and have on hand is a big pot of soup. According to the 30-year-old, it just tastes better the next day—an incentive to prep it.

Most of her meals make a couple servings, and if she doesn’t have anyone else to feed, she saves the other servings for later in the week.

Meal prepping plant-based dishes is an easy way to ensure that you’re incorporating more plants into your diet. When you meal prep and you have simple plant-forward dishes on hand for the rest of the week, you’re more likely to make the lifestyle a priority.

Harper likes to “prep a few ingredients,” such as rice, veggies and tofu at the start of the week, then “throw them together” with different spices as the week goes on. Make it easy on yourself, follow her lead.

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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.