Karl and Blackjack

When I grow up, I want to be Karl Poynter. This 21-year-old BMX pro has been profiled on popular BMX Web sites and blogs; rides for The Shadow Conspiracy and Eastern Bikes; has his own BMX store, Hardcore Sportz, with his brother, Kyle; and gets paid to do what he loves more than anything in the world. Sweet gig, right?

If you’re involved in the BMX world, you know that Karl is at the top of his game—but what you might not know is that Karl takes animal right as seriously as improving his BMX skills. According to Karl, “Helping animals is making friends,” and we couldn’t agree more. Check out our interview below to see what this vegetarian BMX pro has to say about his healthy diet, his rescued shop cat, and the importance of animal adoption.

How did you get your start in BMX, and how long have you been riding?
It all started 12 years ago when I was 9. My older brother, Kyle, decided he’d save up some money and get us a couple of BMX bikes so that we could start riding together. It began with pedaling around town, to traveling around to BMX races, then on to doing freestyle tricks and traveling the world. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else right now.

So far in your BMX career, what achievement are you most proud of?
Just being able to meet good people that are now close friends of mine, travel the world, and grow as an individual because of something I’ve grown to love and do such as riding my bike.

I’ve heard that you’re vegetarian! How long have you been vegetarian, and what made you decide to make the switch?
I’ve been vegetarian for eight years now. At lunch during my freshman year of high school is when I officially made the choice to stop eating meat. My interest all began while reading an interview with one of the riders that had influenced my riding at the time, named George Dossantos. George had talked about why he was vegetarian and had mentioned some sites to check out to learn more about vegetarianism. So I did my research and decided that it seemed to fit my lifestyle and the way I lived. I’ve always been an animal lover and who would argue with having a healthy diet? It all made perfect sense to me.

To ride BMX, you have to have a lot of energy. Do you feel that a vegetarian diet has been beneficial for your riding career?
I honestly believe that having a vegetarian diet is the best way to go and has helped me feel good in everyday living, not to mention riding my bike. I must stress that having a vegetarian diet doesn’t just mean canceling out meat and eating french fries, chips, and candy all day. It takes a little effort of eating right and it’s not hard to do so either. There’s so much to eat when it comes to being vegetarian. Believe me, I love food and I eat all of the time!

Karl and Blackjack

We hear that you have a shop cat at your store, Hardcore Sportz, who has his own signature T-shirt! Tell us about him, and how did he become a part of your life?
Yes, we do. His name is Blackjack. We actually found him several years ago as a stray at a bike/skatepark. He was very skinny at the time. We took him in, and he’s been hanging out at our store ever since and is now a big part of my life. Blackjack has become so popular that he has his very own signature shirt now. People come in all the time just to give him a visit.

Six to 8 million unwanted animals are turned over to animal shelters every year, and nearly half of them must be euthanized because of a lack of good homes. How do you feel about adopting animals from animal shelters rather than purchasing them from a breeder or a pet store?
I’m a big supporter of going to animal shelters first. All of my family members have gotten their animals by either saving them from the streets or a shelter. There’s no sense of going to a pet store to bring an animal into your life when you can easily save a life by going to a shelter. The positives of going to an animal shelter clearly outweigh the pet store option for me.

What’s next for you?
Family, friends, hangin’ with my kitties, riding bikes, traveling, working at my shop, playing paintball, and enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

Sounds like a sweet life, right? I have to admit, I’m pretty jealous. If you’re curious about vegetarianism, follow Karl’s lead and give it a try by taking our pledge to be be veg below. Not only is a vegetarian diet better for the planet and animals, but you’ll feel healthier and have more energy to do sliders with the best of them!