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Having a specific dietary requirement can always cause challenges in your day-to-day life, but it certainly poses a particular set of challenges when you’re travelling. While North Americans are increasingly more aware of special diets like gluten-free, paleo, and vegan, those food choices don’t necessarily translate into other parts of the world.

Which is why we found it fascinating that one of the upcoming contestants on The Amazing Race Canada is vegan, and she’s hoping to continue eating that way throughout the race… within reason, of course. When Toronto friends Neikita “Nicky” Lee and Aisha Bentham take the starting line on this season of the series, Bentham hopes to ring the plant-based bell.

“It’s going to be challenging, 100 per cent,” she says with a laugh. “It’s something that I’m constantly debating, but I know myself and I feel the best when I do not do any meat or dairy products. I understand that not everywhere can accommodate. That might mean I may need to engage with dairy again. I’m not going to have meat but I’m going to have to dabble in dairy if I absolutely have to. But if I can help it, I don’t want to.”

In it to win it

These 31-year-old friends, who have known each other since they were 16 and played basketball together, say they definitely have the competitive spirit to win this race. They’ve both overcome obstacles in their lives that aligns them with this season’s “second chances” theme; Lee had a hard childhood and overcame a lot to become a personal trainer, and Bentham quit everything to start her own company.

Once they’re on the race, the women reveal that their experiences on the court together will be a huge asset in terms of navigating all of the hardships that could come with a competition of this size.

“Everyone on the court comes with their own strengths and weaknesses,” Lee says. “If it’s a tight game with three seconds on the clock, you know who your best defensive player is. It teaches you teamwork, discipline, stuff like that. We’re hoping to execute and put all that stuff into application on the race.”

Breaking stereotypes

It isn’t often that we see two black women racing together on a show like this, and Lee and Bentham are out to prove that anyone, anywhere, can overcome obstacles. “If two black girls from the East side of Toronto can conquer adversity, swim, and get their hair wet,” anyone can do anything, is their message.

More than that, the duo also want to drive home the idea that people should never give up. They point to the fact that they applied to be on the show last year and made it all the way to the last round of casting before producers asked them to try again this year. So they did, and here they are.

“We want to push that message, don’t give up,” Bentham iterates. “You never know. It’s about timing. Give it another try.”

“We want to show that anything is possible,” adds Lee. “A lot of people from certain communities don’t know that these things are possible. We want to show them that it is possible and that they’re not counted out of any of these opportunities.”

But what about the opportunity to eat bugs… if it comes down to a challenge where Bentham has to either throw back some beetles or else risk going home, would she break her rule of no meat?

“Oh I’m going to eat it,” she says. “I’ll definitely eat it. It’s Amazing Race Canada on the line!”

The Amazing Race Canada debuts Tuesday, July 2 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.