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The World’s Most Dangerous Vegan

January 15, 2012

Warning: the following post contains excessive blogging gimmicks including social commentary, embedded video, a recipe and a poll.  Read at your own risk.

It’s late.  You’re walking alone on a dark street.  Down the block, a shadowy man is ambling toward you along the otherwise empty sidewalk.  You tense up and consider crossing the street, because this is clearly a dangerous man.  And how do you know?  Well, he looks dangerous.  Maybe he’s wearing a hoodie, or has tattoos, or a shaved head, or “gang” clothes.

All of us have our own (usually false) preconceptions of what traits indicate danger when we encounter our fellow homosapiens.  But unless I’m severely mistaken, there’s one trait completely free of threatening associations.  I’m pretty sure no one in the situation I described has said to themselves “oh crap, here comes a vegan.”  Of course, I’m not sure how you would even recognize a vegan assailant, unless he was walking down the street eating a slice of kelp-cake and a tofu pup, but the point is that most of us associate vegans with peace, love and patchouli oil, not potential ass-whuppin’s.

Those of us, that is, unfamiliar with Jake Shields, whom I am officially dubbing the world’s most dangerous vegan. With an MMA record of 26-6 and a #3 world ranking, Shields is one of a growing crop of top MMA fighters who are turning to an increasingly animal-free diet as a formal part of their fight preparation.  As I write this, I can hear the dull scraping sound of a thousand deceased wrestling and football coaches turning over in their graves.  When I was growing up, sports nutrition was a nascent field that hadn’t made it down to the level of the high school coach.  My coach’s idea of a proper diet was a bloody steak and some fried eggs for your pre-match breakfast.  But in the last twenty years fight training has evolved into a true science and the bloody steak has been replaced by brown rice and a vegetable-based protein shake.

Albuquerque, NM, where I live, is home to Jackson’s MMA, one of the top fight gyms in the world and the training Mecca for dozens of well-known UFC fighters, so I occasionally see one out at a local eatery.  It never fails to amaze me when I notice a former or current world champion sitting at the next table munching on a Nicoise salad and sipping on a chilled bottle of Evian.  With a twist, no less.  It might seem odd that men trained to methodically pummel each other’s faces into bloody messes are adopting eating habits previously reserved for characters on Sex in the City.  But the demands on a pro fighter’s body during training are so intense that what they eat becomes a critical part of their fight preparation.  Many learn the hard way that having poor nutrition could literally get your ass kicked.  And that’s probably even better motivation than looking good at the annual pool party.

Then there are fighters who are jumping on the animal-free bandwagon for moral reasons, such as UFC fighter Matt Danzig who describes his dietary ethos as follows:

I have to admit that while I respect Mr. Danzig’s values, there is a certain irony in a man who has sent numerous opponents to the hospital having such concern for his furrier fellow mammals.  But then again, fighters step into the cage voluntarily.  Chickens?  Not so much.  Plus, the chickens don’t even get groupies or an after-party.

All this has me thinking about my own diet, which has changed fairly dramatically and in ways I would have never imagined when I was younger.  You see, when I was in my twenties, my approach toward the digestive process went something like this.  Eat food.  Wait.  Expel waste.  Spend exactly zero time thinking about how any of this works, ever.  It made no difference if it was brocollini, a burger or a bucket of lard – it all worked out the same (and forgive me for this phrase) in the end.  But by the time I had indiscriminately chewed my way into my forties, my digestive tract had mutinied like some gassy, noxious pirate intent on sacking the ship of my body.  I’m sure you, the reader, will be quite relieved if I fail to provide any details.  Let’s just say that the sustenance I consumed daily to stay alive seemed to be threatening to kill me.

After a seemingly endless series of tests, I was diagnosed with the beginnings of celiac disease, a kind of auto-immune ailment triggered by consumption of gluten, found in wheat, rye and barley.  There is no cure except to avoid eating anything containing those grains.  So overnight, I bid farewell to bread, pizza, pasta, cake, cookies, sausage and beer.  In other words, 95% of my former diet.  But it worked.  And though many might imagine the sudden loss of most of their comfort foods to be a traumatic event, I was actually quite relieved.  I had begun to conclude that my entire digestive tract had probably just morphed into a giant greasy tumor.  But I didn’t stop with wheat.  I began to eat way more vegetables, fruits and whole grains, way less meat and cut out most dairy and all refined sugar.

And, thus, I became one of those people that had always bugged the crap out of me – holier than thou health-foodists who would preach the gospel of acai berries or kale juice or raw cocoa nibs until I wanted to vomit just to make them shut up.  So it shocks me that my current morning regiment begins with – and it pains me to say this – a kale juice and an acai smoothie. If you had told me this would be my diet ten years ago, I would have choked on my bacon-cheeseburger laughing.

Sure, sometimes I kind of wish I could go back, but I have so much more energy, endurance and recuperative ability with my irritatingly healthy diet that I really don’t pine much for the old days of dietary freedom.  The fact is, I’ve simply come to a point in life where, like the aforementioned UFC fighters, I have to eat this way, whether I like it or not.  It’s just that in my case, it’s not some guy across the cage that’s going to kick my ass. It’s my own 49 years of hard living on the planet.  And believe me, that is a dangerous opponent.

But, as the family cook, I firmly believe there is no contradiction between healthy and delicious.  Sure, my first few kale ginger juices tasted like someone spilled chinese take-out on the lawn then juiced up the mower clippings.  But after extensive experimentation I got something that tasted good and felt great.  After drinking it, I can almost hear every cell in my body sighing in relief.  The only problem is, I can’t figure out what to call it.  This seems important because it would be good to have a snappy reply when Baby Momma asks “what the hell is that green sh*t you’re drinking?  I can smell it from here!”

So it is with the best intentions and a huge sense of irony that I now ask you, dear reader, for a little help naming the concoction shown in the pictorial recipe below.  Peruse, and if you might, express your opinion using the poll at the end.

Yet Unnamed Green Concoction

1. Assemble the following ingredients: carrot, celery, kale, cucumber, parsley, apple, pear, ginger (optional: juice of half a lime, dash of maple syrup)

2. Grab a couple of scary looking knives and get busy all Benihana style

3. Dump it all into a Cuisinart, puree and amuse yourself for five minutes.  I like to watch the carrots go round.

4. Pour pulp into a nylon or clothe mesh bag (I use a salad crisper bag) and apply your best collar choke

5. Chug and yell “booyah!”

6. Apologize to the Baby Momma for yelling “Booyah!” at 6 a.m.

And now the poll:

  1. Dion permalink


    The Weedeater?
    The Garden Ghetto Blaster?
    The Juice Lee?

    I dunno, but I’m slowly finding out the same shit. Can’t keep eating nachos and pizza ever damn night…

    • Sorry to take so long to reply, but wanted to tell you I really like the “juice lee”. Wish I’d thought of that…

  2. butts permalink


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