Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Green Giant: Debunking the Myth of the Frail Vegan Man

So, let me get this straight.  You're telling me eating only plants = twig?  I am going to have to disagree with you my friend.  Big time!

Let's start off with a little bit of history.  Back in the day, we had some folk we call Gladiators: Russell Crowe, Spartan 300 type-looking folk.  Fighting was a sport for them and for the spectators.  The funny thing, which when you really think about it is actually not that funny at all, is that many died in the process.  They fought to the death. They fought with other gladiators, even wild animals and had to be diesel. 

Guess what diet they were fed day in and day out?  Yep.............Bangin' Bird Food.  

They were actually known as "barley men" because of their high consumption of the grain.  In an Archeaology article, paleo-pathologist Karl Grossschmidt theorizes that this was used to "pack on the pounds".   The development of subcutaneous fat was helpful in "protecting nerves and blood vessels" as well as making wounds less damaging after weapon assaults.  I, along with other folk, highly dispute this claim as all documentation of gladiators portrays them as lean and incredibly muscular, like these artifacts below, including the very one featured in the above article.  

The artifact featured in Archeology 

Sumo-wrestler looking types?  Naaah
Photo Credit: Vroma

A third one for good measure
Photo Credit: BBC

They say history repeats itself.  I am in agreement with that statement as I have learned of many a man able to sustain his physique on a plant-based diet.  See for yourself.

Here is an NYTimes article titled, "Sculpted by Weights and a Strict Vegan Diet" that presents bangin bird food in a new light.  Contrary to the social current, you can achieve incredible fitness results with a plant-based diet.

Now let's take a look at my dude here, literally and figuratively: 

Bird food Body Builder Robert Cheeke

Robert Cheeke, a vegan bodybuilder, has single-handledly brought vegan body-building to the mainstream.........................And the thing is...............He is not only winning championships but has been doing it successfully for 15 years.  The man is a BOSS!  Check out his website: Vegan Bodybuilding

Speaking of bosses, this brings me to another green giant, Jim Morris.  This man is a bodybuilder.  This man looks fantastic.  This man is also 72 years old.  Let me kindly repeat.  This man is also 72 years old.  I'm done.

Okay, enough with the body-builders because not all of us are trying to look like the Hulk.  How about some athletes?  I would say they are a little more of a realistic standard.  

I have the lucky five for you today:

1.  Carl Lewis
2.  Tony Gonzales
3.  Tim Bradley 
4.  Mac Danzing
5.  Rich Roll

Mr. Lewis in his prime

Let's start with a pioneer.  Carl Lewis won 10 Olympic medals, NINE of which were GOLD and 10 World Championship medals, EIGHT of which were GOLD. How in the world was he able to beast like that?  Steroids?  Nope.....well to be honest, there was that one time............but continue with my train of thought.  He attributes the vegan diet to his amazing accomplishments.  I mean I don't know, maybe there is some truth to it (shrugs shoulders).  Even though he was hating on my boy Usain, I'll let it slide for the good of your health.    Give him a listen.  

Then we have Tony Gonzalez, a tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, who lives on bird food and isn't ashamed to show it.  He also has a lot to show for it.    

Remember Tim Bradley from my Word's Getting Out: Presidents and Athletes post?  His physique is obviously not a joke.

In a post on Dan Rafel's ESPN blog, he says:

"I'm three months into being a vegan for this fight.  It's been four years since I've been doing it this way....Every fight I get prepared for, I go vegan for about 3½ months...I just feel so much better.  Cleaner, mental clarity.  You see the physique.  I don't lose any muscle.  I'm a lean, mean, fighting machine."

Here is how he got on to it:

"I met some doctors through a friend, Sam Jackson, that turned me on to it.  They were vegetarians.  They said something along the lines -- they said, 'You see those 350-pound gorillas?  Do they eat meat?  I was like, 'Do they?' They said they don't eat meat, and I was like, 'Wow, they don't?'  They said, 'You see how big they are?...You see how strong they are?  Our genetic makeup is similar, right?  Isn't that what scientists say, that our genetic makeup is similar to apes and gorillas?...That's all I needed to know.  That's what I'm gonna do-- I'm gonna go vegan.  I'm gonna eat trees and plants and fruits, grass.  I'm gonna eat all of these things."

Bradley, you crack me up.  Though I eat bird food, I made sure to stay away from the trees and grass.  It's a little harsh on the digestive system so I wouldn't recommend it. 

Mac Danzing.  If you haven't heard of this name before now you know.  He is a UFC fighter.  A better explanation is that "he is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)", courtesy of Wikipedia.  Relaaaaaax, this is not a college paper. He is one of the "Fittest Guys in America" according to Men's Fitness Magazine. In the article, he simply explains why he became vegan.

When asked what made him stop eating meat, he responded:

"When I was sixteen I cut out beef and pork.  I just got to the point where I wanted to minimize my intake of animal products.  I knew about factory farming and the theories that meat wasn't safe, but I subscribed to the theory that if you were doing something athletic, you needed to have protein, so I kept eating chicken and fish. But then in 2004, I got to the point where I got sick of eating chicken.  It started grossing me out for some reason.  I was about a month from a fight and I decided I was going to cut out all meat.  I was working with a trainer who was vegan and he helped me make the switch. I won that fight and went on a 12-fight winning streak.  And [not eating meat] made it really easy to cut weight for that fight."

You can read the rest here.  

Okay, okay, I promise this is the last athlete story I have for you but it's good.  

Ultra-man, Rich Roll, totally transformed his life at 40 years old.  He is also considered one of the "Fittest Guys in the World" by Men's Fitness Magazine.  To quote from his website:

"To celebrate his natal birthday as well as his 10th anniversary in recovery from drug addiction, in 2006 he overhauled his diet, became a dedicated vegan, put on his running shoes and jumped back into the pool.  It wasn't long before ambition took hold and his quest to participate in Ultraman slowly began.  Two years later and close to 50 pounds lighter, he surprised the triathlon and ultra marathon communities by not only becoming the first vegan to complete the event, but by finishing in the top 10 males, despite never having even previously competed in a single Ironman distance event." 

You finish in the top 10 and you never had previous experience in any kind of ridiculously intense distance event.  Smh.  That's what bangin bird food does!

Now if all of these folk still seem to be on a completely different level and you feel you could never achieve those heights, please consider your everyday a neighborhood firefighter.  Rip is most definitely not a twig.

Rip Esseltyn, is a firefighther in Austin, Texas.  He is also the author of the book The Engine 2 Diet and encourages as many folks as he can to live "plant-strong".  I like that.  It has a little ring to it.  Check out his story on "How the Firefighters at Engine 2 Became Plant Strong" and a video of him on The Today Show below. 

Thank you for reading.  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy. Ciao!

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