Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 13: Vegans and MMA

Hello kiddles! I am going to say this outright and up front that I'm the only one that probably will care about this post at all but I guess I hit a little lull in interesting meals so I decided that I wanted to do a post on MMA (mixed martial arts) and veganism because over the past 3-4 years it has become a big part of my life.

So, where to begin! I guess I'll start off my talking a little bit about how MMA fits into my life. I've struggled with weight my entire life and about four years ago I decided to do something about it (finally...). I started to get my diet in order and I went hard at the gym. At first it was the typical boring crap with weights and machines and cardio. I was doing well and I felt good, but was concerned that since I didn't actually enjoy the workouts it wouldn't last. Then, I hit the pads for the first time and at that very moment, my life totally changed.

I was totally hooked. I was getting a sick workout and I loved every minute of it. I started off 1-2 days a week with 30 minute sessions (and my own workouts). Now I train 3 days a week for 45 minutes and then I work out on my own as well. And I look forward to every session.  If I could afford it I'd train for hours every day. I started off with straight up punches and now I've expanded into punches, kicks, knees, elbows, defense, and sprawls...boxing, kickboxing and muay thai. Mixed in with cardio, body weight exercise and other gnarly stuff I get amazing workouts every time. It is the best feeling in the world to feel your power, strength, skill and to have determination. I may not be happy with my weight still but I feel amazing and pretty fit and that is so much more important than the number on the scale.

I get a lot of comments about MMA and how it "isn't vegan." The only thing that isn't vegan about it are the regulation leather gloves the professional fighters wear. My synthetic gloves are cruelty free. I get that people think it is all about violence and blood and knockouts and submissions. It is so much more than that. It is about respect. It is about discipline. It is about strength and power and defense and skill. I can tell you that I am not afraid to walk down the street at night by myself and that I will not be a victim. I remember reading an interview and the fighter (It was either Jake Shields or Mac Danzig, I forget) said it perfectly...animals do not have a choice in whether or not they suffer by our hand. The two fighters consciously make the decision to fight. And as I said before, they have mutual respect walking into that cage.

Over the last few weeks I've heard a lot about how there are fighters that have been embracing a vegan or vegetarian diet. A few say it is easier for them to make weight but most say that it is because they feel healthier, lighter and faster without giving up power and muscle.  Diet plays a huge part of this. There are some that cite animal cruelty as the driving force of this choice.

So, I figured I'd share a few things I found where vegan fighters talk about their diets. Any athlete will probably benefit from this because they talk about how to eat for intense training.

The first vegan fighter I've ever heard about was Mac Danzig. I've read some good interviews with him like this one with PETA. I also really like this article he wrote about what he eats while he is training. Keep in mind he is a man training for hours every day so his calorie intake is pretty high, but the kind of food he eats is interesting. I would disagree with some of his choices like relying heavily on Clif bars but overall you get the idea.

This is Mac Danzig.

My favorite fighter is Nick Diaz. He is ridiculously talented and eats a high raw vegan diet. The man does triathlons on his days off. He is super inspiring.

That's Nick Diaz. His brother Nathan is also an incredibly talented fighter and also is vegan from what I understand. Check him out.

And this is Jake Shields. He has never eaten meat in his life and recently went full vegan. That was awesome to hear.

It makes me happy that professional athletes are speaking out about being vegan and showing how you don't need animal protein to be successful in your training. I always find it interesting to see how vegan athletes eat. There is no one right way to is always just a matter of doing what feels best for you. I know I feel best when I eat clean with no wheat and added sugar. This is incredibly difficult though. And I also don't expect to get in a cage anytime soon though :)

So, that's my piece on MMA. It's just how I feel and my answer when people ask me why I'm vegan but am into MMA and watching fights. Sorry if this was a total snoozefest but I figured I'd talk a little bit about it because I mention my workouts a lot and this'll give you a better idea of some of the background.

I'll be back tomorrow with food, I promise!! Have a great night!


  1. I had never heard someone say MMA isn't vegan, how ridiculous! That's like saying any contact sport isn't. That's so ridiculous. Good post! I have only done boxing but my husband trains and teaches MMA (teaches it in the Marine Corps where it is called MCMAP). We watch all the UFC fights :)

  2. Awesome Sophie! I don't watch the PPV fights because I can't really be spending $50 on them but I see them on UFC Unleashed on Spike eventually. Yeah I've had people give me crap about it, and you are right, it is so ridiculous!

  3. This was so interesting! I am honestly uneducated in the ways of MMA, and really enjoyed hearing about it through your voice. And you're right - if you don't love the "activity", it becomes "exercise" which can be dull. I really enjoy running (okay, I jog - not quite a runner yet), and if I didn't, I would definitely stop!

  4. I'm glad you found a sport and a workout that you really enjoy!

  5. Ingrid - Wow, thanks I'm glad you liked it! There is A LOT going on in MMA so I also don't really know much about it when you think about how many forms of martial arts there are...but it is so interesting and complex :) That is great that you enjoy running! I'm trying so hard to get into it but it just is not my favorite things to do. I really need to get back into the grind with that though.

    FF - Thanks! It has been a major part of my life the last few is amazing to take out stress and aggression too!

  6. I never realized someone would think that martial arts isn't vegan. My kids take a martial arts class twice a month, and I love the respect and discipline it teaches them. Okay, 2 pints of water to start my day - I'll start doing that.

  7. The people that have said that are also the ones who are first to jump all over my diet so I take it all with a grain of salt. I think everyone should take some form of martial arts or self defense class. It is so important and you learn SO MUCH MORE than technique!

  8. Thanks for sharing your passion for MMA. It's so important to find a workout that you love. I can't believe people would be so rude about your sport. There are many different kinds of vegans--we're not wearing tie-dye shirts and hugging trees all day!

    I liked the videos too. I drink an emormous glass of water as soon as I get up too. I just feel better when I'm hydrated. I like seeing what other vegans eat because it inspires me to eat "cleaner".

  9. Thanks Sage! I know everyone expects specific things from vegans but we it is a stereotype...and like anyone else not everyone fits into that stereotype! I don't follow any other sports but I certainly wouldn't judge anyone else that does!

    Those videos crack me up. He is so serious and then all of a sudden you hit the spaghetti is his one attempt to be funny and it was just so silly! I agree, I get inspired by others to eat clean...especially athletes that eat for fuel.

  10. With annoying comments like that, it's no wonder you need to get out your aggression.