Plant-Based Performance is a project I've put together to benefit animal welfare. Right now it is a series of two books the content of which is made up of unique contributions by myself and over 40 other vegan athletes, health and fitness professionals, and activists. 

People like former UFC fighter Mac Danzig, WWE superstar and hall of famer Amy "Lita" Dumas, ultrarunner and author Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete, registered dietitian Matt Ruscigno, Stic.man of the hip hop duo Dead Prez, professional bodybuilder Torre "Tha Vegan Dread" Washington, and many more!

100% of all book sales go directly to benefit the following organizations: Mercy For Animals, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Forgotten Animals Rescue.

I hope you enjoy this week's episode, and to learn more about Plant-Based Performance and and to help us support these amazing organizations by grabbing your copies of the books, visit us on the web at: 

http://www.plantbasedperformance.org
http://www.facebook.com/plantbasedper...

Also, if you are a vegan athlete, health and fitness professional or activist and would like to get involved with future projects email me at scott@extreme-fitness.org.
 
 
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Scott Shetler
Mac, first I wanted to say thank you for being a part of the Plant-Based Performance project to benefit Mercy For Animals, and thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview to help support the book! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Mac Danzig
I'm originally from the Western Pennsylvania region.  I grew up as an only-child, raised primarily by my mother, who was a single parent.  From my earliest memory, I recall being enchanted by nature and wildlife.  A deep respect and interest in the natural world, along with the thirst for exploration and adventure has been the major theme of my life.



SS
When did you first become interested in the martial arts and competitive fighting?

MD
I was always interested in one-on-one combat sports like boxing, kickboxing and karate, from my early childhood and onward.  The first time I saw the UFC in 1994, I was 14 years old.  I was blown away at the excitement and the essence of the competition.  From that point forward, I made it a goal to learn as much as I could from studying the events on tape, even though it would be years before I was able to find a place to train at and develop real skills.


SS
One of your passions is photography. What do you enjoy shooting most, and why?

MD
I enjoy shooting all sorts of different subjects, but by far, my two major passions are natural landscapes and wildlife.  Being in the presence of wild animals is an amazing energy to experience.  It's a privilege to be in that moment, watching them interact on their own terms and attempting to capture these moments aesthetically.  The only thing that comes close to that for me is traveling to geologically beautiful remote areas, far detached from the hand of man and using my equipment to try and capture the serenity of the light play and the energy of the area.


SS
When did you decide to transition to a plant-based diet?

MD
After a few stints of half-hearted attempts at vegetarianism over the years, I finally made a solid permanent decision in 2004 at the age of 24, to eat and live entirely plant-based.


SS
What does a normal day of eating look like for you?

MD
I eat as much in-season, raw, ripe fresh organic fruit as I can afford and find available to me.  I graze on fruit throughout the day, and I might make a giant smoothie with fruits, as well as a huge raw salad using tender greens, lettuces and vegetables.  I don't eat much overt fat these days, but when I do it's usually always in the form of avocado or coconut.
 


SS
What does a normal day of training look like for you?

MD
During my years as a professional MMA fighter, most days of training included 1-2 hours of technical practice like hitting striking combinations on the pads, or drilling grappling and wrestling techniques, followed by a recuperation period and finished later in the day with a few hours more of training, including live-sparring to simulate a fight and cardio interval-training.  Now that I am retired from the sport, I find myself enjoying the endurance sports a lot, mainly due to the fact that I can perform them while being outdoors and exploring.  I find myself doing long trail runs and even longer cycling sessions on rural roads and bike paths.

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SS
How important is your nutrition plan to your training and preparation as a competitive fighter?

MD
Nutrition has always been one of the most important factors for me, as a successful professional athlete.  Luckily, I found out early on that a plant based diet of primarily raw whole foods is the most beneficial.  In the prime of my mid 20s, I won 12 straight fights directly after going vegan.


SS
Competitive martial arts have evolved tremendously over the past couple of decades, due in large part to organizations like the UFC, and have become very popular as spectator sports. How do you feel about the growth of the sport and what are your thoughts on where it seems to be headed?

MD
I have mixed feelings about the direction it's headed, however I have always leaned toward a pessimistic outlook, so that may have something to do with that.   Really, I think the fans are very lucky at this point in time.  The UFC's explosion in popularity has really opened up the doors to allow more fans to see the sport, and more fighters to compete.   There are some driven people fighting in the sport today, who have made it their true passion to excel and create art out there.  As  the sport reaches it's saturation level, we may see that fade over time.  But right now, the sport is at the most competitive and artistic level we have ever witnessed.


SS
Now that the concept of mixed martial arts has evolved into its own discipline, instead of the early days which pitted style vs. style, do you think it takes away from the traditional aspect of the martial arts at all? Only in the past few years have young kids had the opportunity to join an "MMA" training facility as opposed to beginning in a strict traditional style and evolving into a competitive mixed martial artist.

MD
Well, there are two sides to that phenomena.  On one hand, it's good because MMA is based on reality, and any tradition that teaches you to defend yourself or engage in combat in an unrealistic way is meant to be broken or cast aside.  On the other hand, I have noticed the over-saturation of “MMA” as a discipline leading to the same phenomena we saw take place in the 70's and 80's here in western culture, with “McDojos.” Now we have suburban shopping centers with MMA and Jiu-Jitsu schools taught by uneducated charlatans who are cashing in by watering down what was once a realistic set of disciplines.   In the end, things are coming around full-circle.  It's interesting to observe.


SS
In addition to strict nutrition practices, do you practice anything to bring balance to your fight training, such as meditation, qigong, yoga, etc? If so, do you feel this, or anything similar, is an important aspect of training and preparation that a fighter should practice?

MD
Aligning one's mind and emotions with one's body in a loving, symbiotic way is extremely beneficial, I believe.  In my experience, a few of the paths leading to this in an effective manner can be meditation, yoga and the responsible, spiritual use of psychedelics.


SS
What was it like participating in, and coming into the UFC, through The Ultimate Fighter?

MD
Looking back on the experience, It was a beautiful ride, full of emotions and chances to experience life fully.   At the time, It seemed arduous, stressful and full of mixed emotions about what was unfolding.  In the end, it was an amazing learning experience for me about myself, life and human nature in general.
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SS
What do you feel are some of the biggest myths associated with plant-based nutrition?

MD
By far, the biggest myth is that there is some sort of protein requirement that humans have, which is not met with a plant-based diet.  That notion is simply wrong and only followed by the ignorant.  Another myth is that strength will somehow be lost if one chooses to eliminate animal products from the diet.  It's a ludicrous notion that isn't true.  Rather than directly trying to change people's minds, I have adopted the practice of using my own success as an example.   I encourage all other people with plant-based diets to do the same.  Be a shining example of health and vibrance.


SS
Some of the nicest, most caring and compassionate people I've ever met have dedicated their lives to working with animals through rehabilitations, rescues, and animal rights organizations. If I remember correctly from one of your podcast interviews I listened to, you spent some time working for an animal rescue, or animal shelter. I read a statement once that said, "Working for animal rights - you will lose your mind, but find your soul." From your experience, would you agree?

MD
I absolutely agree with that statement.  Often, the most challenging experiences in life are the most rewarding.  The people who have followed their hearts and put themselves on the line for what they believe in, have truly lived.


SS
What do you feel would be the best way to share the benefits of a plant-based diet and cruelty-free lifestyle with others, without coming across as "preachy", "elitist", or "judgmental"?

MD
Leading by example is where it's at.  Let people know what you do, and do it well.  If you are a good person, it will rub off on many people in a profound way.  We are too often caught up in the idea of instant change, which is why there are so many fad diets and products out there.   There is no “get rich quick” plan, nor is there a plan for “instant enlightenment”.  Have patience with yourself and others.  Nothing is going to change over night.  Be yourself, lead by example, and let your energy permeate everything around you.


SS
What inspires you the most?

MD
Nature and wildlife.   In the human realm, it's anyone who lives life to the fullest, and thrives in the moment, seizing the essence of life.  Ironically, that is exactly what I feel animals in nature do, which is why I feel that way about them.  Human culture can be a great thing, but it can also be very limiting.  Going back to the mindfulness and presence of existence without the constraints of society can lead any earthling down an enchanting and wonderful path, I think.


SS
What is the purpose of life?

MD
To play the game with loving abandon.


SS
What do you want to be remembered for after you've passed from this lifetime?

MD
Hopefully, that I lived life hard, offered my love, and stood up for what I believed in.


SS
If someone were to steal your iPod, or portable music player of choice, what would the top 5 most played songs be?

MD
Probably songs by Bad Religion, The Misfits, older Jedi Mind Tricks, The National and Freddie Gibbs


SS
If readers want to learn more about you, or follow you  on the internet, or see any of your photography, do you have a website or social media page they should look up?

MD
Check out my photography on www.macdanzigphoto.net  

Follow me on twitter at @macdanzigmma

SS
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

MD
Life as we know it in this body is pretty short.  If you want to do something, there really isn't any time to waste.


SS
Mac, thank you sincerely for your time. I can't express how much it means to have your support on this project. All my best to you!

MD
You're welcome, bro!
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Be sure to check out Mac's outstanding chapter, "Exercising Compassionate Responsibility", in Plant-Based Performance: A Compassionate Approach to Health & Fitness-a collaboration of articles from Mac and 18 other plant-based athletes, health & fitness professionals, and enthusiasts.

100% of all book sales go to benefit Mercy For Animals, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.

If you would like to get a copy for yourself, and help us reach our goal to raise $10,000 for MFA by the end of 2014, click here!

Thanks for your support!
-Scott

 
 
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Patrik Baboumian performing a 1214lb yoke carry!
Vegan strongman (YES you read that correctly) Patrik Baboumian set a world record in a feat of strength on Sunday, 9/8/13, by lifting-and carrying-a strongman yoke loaded with 550kg of weight (about 1214 lbs) a distance of 10 meters!

This feat was performed in front of a crowd of several hundred spectators at the Vegetarian Food Festival in Toronto.

Patrik is an animal lover who became vegetarian in 2006 and vegan in 2011, shortly after being named Germany's Strongest Man.

In a quote from thestar.com, Patrik states, "One day, I just thought, if you see a bird with a broken leg, you really have the urge to do something about it and help the bird, then at the same time you go to a restaurant and eat a chicken or something. It doesn't make any sense."

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I wonder how man times Patrik gets this question?!?!
According to Patrik's website at www.patrikbaboumian.de, Patrik explains his reason for switching to a plant-based lifestyle, "When I started the vegetarian diet 2005 I knew little about the effect it would have on my performance and strength. The reasons for my decision where mainly based on my empathy for all kinds of non human animals and the mental conflict I felt, when consuming meat, which would mean that an animal would have to lose its live for my appetite. Expecting at least a slight inverse effect on my training performance I was amazed by the great gains in lean body-mass and strength I got with the meat-free diet."

And to answer the above question-his main protein sources are: soy milk, soy protein powder, tofu, nuts, and beans. In addition he eats a lot of carbohydrates to fuel his training (rice, potatoes, oats), and he eats a lot of fruit, greens, and vegetables, relying heavily on shakes and smoothies to make it easier to consume the necessary calories he needs for his level of size and strength.
Thanks for helping to destroy the stereotype that vegans are skinny, frail and weak-Patrik, Plant-Based Performance salutes you!

-Scott