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Ian Cramer

Plant-Based Cyclist

Interview No. 96

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Where are you originally from? What brought you to Rochester?

I grew up an hour east of Rochester in a small town called Red Creek. Graduating class: 84 students. Red Creek is known for soccer and pie filling. I arrived in Rochester in the spring of 2015 after previously living in Oxford, Ohio, Atlanta, Georgia, Alfred, NY and Olean, NY. I wanted to be closer to family, friends and wanted to live in a more populated area. My wife and I currently work for the University of Rochester. We’re looking to buy a house and put down roots in the area. We love it here.

What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?

The city of Rochester is not too big but not too small. It’s big enough that you can explore the city and surrounding areas for years and not see or experience everything. But, it’s not overwhelming, it’s manageable. It’s easy to get from one side of the city to the other, traffic isn’t a huge issue. We feel Rochester is certainly moving in the right direction and becoming a better city everyday.

What’s the most unique or interesting event you’ve attended in Rochester?

Health and Nutrition lectures at Rochester Lifestyle Medicine on East Ave. Dr. Ted Barnett brings in world renowned speakers, doctors and educators to speak to people about ways they can become healthier.

Do you have a favorite charity/nonprofit you like to support?

Rochester Lifestyle Medicine and Dr. Ted Barnett. In general, this country and society is becoming more and more unhealthy and Dr. Barnett and his work are trying to make this community healthier through education.

If you had $100 to spend and 2 hours to kill in ROC, how would you spend it?

Bike around the small neighborhoods, stop at various coffee shops or bars and buy 2 drinks per establishment: 1 for me and 1 for a stranger and then engage them in a conversation. I enjoy meeting new people and learning different stories. I’m naturally inquisitive and want to know what makes people tick.  

Do you have a favorite neighborhood?

Although I am still exploring the city, I really love the South Wedge. It’s bikeable and filled with unique shops, quiet streets and unique murals and artwork. You could explore those streets a dozen times and see something new every time.

Favorite restaurant?

Red Fern. Healthy vegan cuisine.

What is your favorite Rochester memory?

The windstorm of March 2017.

What makes Rochester unique?

The variety of people, places, sights and sounds. There’s something for everyone without the size of the city being overwhelming. Plus, you go 20 minutes outside of the city and you’re in the country if you prefer peace and quiet. There is such an eclectic group of people, which reminds me of my undergrad, Alfred University. I loved Alfred because although people were very different, we all got along and accepted each other despite our differences. In fact, those differences made the community stronger, much like it does here in Rochester.  

What do you think could be improved?

Our health. Monroe County’s rates of obesity are higher than the state average and I don’t feel there are enough resources that people can utilize to get healthier. I am passionate about spreading education and information to become healthier and I have spoken all over Rochester on how we can get healthier.  

How long have you been into health and nutrition? What originally got you into this field?

In high school, I began riding my bike for fitness. When that started, I began learning more about nutrition via Bicycling Magazine. I started to understand the power of food when it came to athletic performance. My passion for food and nutrition took a huge leap forward when I watched the movie Forks Over Knives in graduate school in 2011. That movie blew my mind and ever since I have been passionate about learning how food affects health and disease, in particular chronic disease. Our top killers today, heart disease, diabetes, strokes and many cancers, are preventable and even reversible with proper diet and nutrition.

How has Rochester been related to your passion of health and nutrition?

Cities are interesting in that there are thriving sub-cultures and groups that you are never exposed to unless you’re looking for them. The plant-based/vegan and health-conscious sub-group is one of those. After exploring what Rochester has to offer, I am very surprised and pleased that there are so many health-conscious people and groups here. I have presented to a half-dozen local libraries on the topic of health, nutrition and disease and the turn-out at these free events have been encouraging. People want to get healthier and learn more, which is a great starting point.

How can you see Rochester improving related to its health, nutrition and lifestyle?

I’d like to see Rochester expand a bike share program and make its streets more walkable. Pushing cars out and making the streets more walkable and rideable is advantageous for business, increases property values and makes the city more inviting as a whole. I would also like to see more rolling farmers markets and make it easier for the poor to afford healthy food.

Do you have any advice for people in Rochester wanting to get healthier?

Simply put, eat more plants and adopt a whole foods plant-based lifestyle. This is the best possible way you can avoid weight gain, chronic disease and poor health. Make small changes over time, read a book or other media and just do it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they’re going to happen. Think long term for best results.

Tell us a little bit about your Podcast.

I curate a Facebook page called Plant-Based Cyclist. It combines my love for cycling and plant-based nutrition. It’s a way for me to educate people about healthier living and show them that it’s possible for athletes to avoid eating meat or dairy while still competing at a high level. My podcast, creatively named The Ian Cramer Podcast, seeks to interview medical doctors and scholars of lifestyle medicine to educate others on how to live a healthy life. It’s free and is available on PodoMatic and the iTunes store.

Ian Cramer runs the Plant-Based Cyclist Facebook page and Ian Cramer Podcast where he educates people on plant-based, whole food diets and healthy lifestyles. For more of Ian's perspective, check out our Instagram.