Alexandra Rose "Aly" Raisman is a two-time Olympic gymnast. She won gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Raisman, 23, is the second-most-decorated American Olympic gymnast. In 2017, she said she was among 130 women sexually abused by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Aly Raisman dishes on her new vegetarian diet—and why she doesn't 'work out every day' anymore

Aly Raisman is taking on a more plant-based diet now that she’s not training as a six-time Olympic gold medalist.

“Around April last year I actually stopped eating meat,” the 24-year-old gymnast tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview.

It’s a move that required her to rethink some of the long-held beliefs she developed as an athlete. “When I was training, I thought that you had to eat meat in order to be strong,” Raisman says. “Now I’ve been reading up on all the amazing things that plants can do for your body and your mind.”

For Raisman, it was also an ethical decision. “I started watching all these documentaries and it really freaked me out seeing how some of the animals are treated so poorly,” she adds. “I’ve always loved animals, my sister has done horseback riding her whole life, we have two dogs.”

Recently, Raisman has paired up with the plant-based meal kit company Purple Carrot, which she says has been helpful in keeping her on track and coming up with new recipes.

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“For me, breakfast and lunch can be a little bit tricky,” she says, adding that it’s been difficult “to figure out how to be completely plant-based for all three meals.”

However, the gymnast has found lots of vegan foods that she really enjoys and continues to make.

“Purple Carrot has this mango chia parfait and that is really good and whenever they have a recipe that I like I’ll try to either remake it or I’ll try to swap in some new ingredients to switch it up a little bit.”

As a way to curb her cravings without breaking her diet, Raisman also has a new go-to snack. “I’m kind of obsessed with cashew-based cheese right now,” she says.

While she’s away from training, the gymnast wants to focus on things that will make her happy, like traveling, going for walks, and meditating.

“I don’t work out every day at this point, but that’s okay. I worked out my whole entire life for very long hours every single day and I’m enjoying taking care of my body and my mind and learning that it’s okay to just chill,” she says.

For others like Raisman who want to stay happy and healthy in the new year, she offers some humbling advice.

“Be self-compassionate because you’re only human and you’re doing the best that you can. If you have a new year’s resolution and you forget to do it one day or you don’t feel like doing it, don’t beat yourself up over it and try again the next day.”

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