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Food, workouts that keep ‘Australia’s sexiest vegetarian’ fit

Growing up in the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s major wine regions, it’s perhaps ironic that Isabelle Cornish is teetotal. The home the 22-year-old model and TV actress was brought up in a home surrounded by animals, and from a young age she educated herself about factory farming and its non-ethical practices, leading her to turn vegetarian at the age of 13.

Coupled with yoga and a regular exercise regime, Cornish, who was voted Australia’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity in 2013 by animal rights organisation Peta, is arguably one of the country’s most clean-living stars. The 1.74-metre tall beauty dishes out health and wellness advice, as well as shares plant-based recipes, on Life IZ a website she launched earlier this year.

Cornish, the youngster sister of Hollywood actress Abbie Cornish, recently made her first trip to Hong Kong for the launch of Daybreaker, a wellness-focused morning disco party movement born in New York in 2013. The event, held at PMQ, included yoga, capoeira and aerobic exercise sessions, culminating in an all-out dance party where caffeine (in the form of coffee) was the hardest drug around.

We caught hold of Cornish for 10 quick questions on how she leads a clean celebrity lifestyle.

Vegetarian and sexy aren’t words usually associated with each other. What’s your secret?

Be confident in your beliefs and treat yourself and others with love and respect. I think sexy can come in many different forms from personality to physical appearance. I try to stay confident in my own skin.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Being healthy to me is feeling confident in your own skin and body. Fuelling yourself with high nutrient foods. I also believe mental health is just as important as physical. Life is all about balance but personal health should be our number one priority.

What’s your typical daily diet like?

My diet changes with the seasons, but I try to squeeze in a fresh green juice everyday. At the moment I have a protein-packed breakfast – loads of veggies, avocado, poached organic open range eggs, with marinated tempeh or tofu. Lunch is usually a large salad with a vegetarian protein or roast vegetables. For dinner I may have vegetable stir fry, soup, brown rice sushi or a fresh salad.

Your favourite cheat meal?

This is hard. I love food so much. But I’m a sucker for a huge laksa – the really creamy type with crushed nuts and chilli. I also love a good veggie burger.

What’s your fitness regime like?

My workout regime is flexible and changes with travel, but I like to do high-intensity weighted and bodyweight workouts. I love going to F45 (a 45-minute high-intensity workout class). I also run three times a week mixing it up with hills and stairs.

The hardest workout you’ve ever done?

In New York at Tone House. Go try it. Trust me, you will mark it top of your list too.

What fitness achievement are you most proud of? And what’s your fitness goal for the next year?

I completed my 300-hour yoga training a few years ago and it was such a rewarding and challenging experience. I was training hard for a half-marathon the beginning of this year and had to travel last minute. One of my goals for next year is to complete a half-marathon.

In the endless stream of health fads that bombard us, which do you follow?

My philosophy is a whole food plant-based diet. Stay away from packaged food and eat the real stuff. Many health fads come and go, but I don’t believe in forbidding one macronutrient altogether from your diet. It’s important to have a balance and not stick to a no carb or no fat plan. This can lead to cravings and unhealthy restriction.

What Instagram accounts do you follow?

@kirstygodso for some serious #fitspo – this chick is strong. @natgeo for my daily animal and nature fix. @Elsas_wholesomelife one of my plant-based foodie crushes. @Gypsea_lust and her boyfriend @doyoutravel for amazing travel inspiration. @yoga_girl always keeps it real and authentic.

Amid the fame, how do you stay grounded?

I like to practise meditation. I also try to plan trips away by myself when I get time off. Bali is one of my go-to locations for some me-time. I love visiting Ubud for yoga, and swimming and surfing in Padang Padang.