There’s nothing we enjoy more at peta2 than busting vegan myths. Like for instance, this nonsense about needing to eat meat to get protein and be strong and healthy. What’s up with that? Between MLB All Star Prince Fielder, NFL running back Ricky Williams, champion fighters Mac Danzig and Jake Shields, and even an arm wrestling champ, how could anyone still be under the impression that vegans and vegetarians are weak?
In case there’s anyone left out there who thinks you have to feast on flesh to kick ass, we sat down with UFC fighter Aaron Simpson to find out what fuels his vegetarian diet and what animal rights issues mean the most to him.
1. What prompted you to become vegetarian? Were there any fighters, books, etc. that influenced your decision?
My wife has been a vegetarian going on 10 years. Everything she taught me about being a vegetarian made sense to me. I considered myself an animal lover (like most people), yet by eating meat I was contributing to the deaths of so many animals. So, with the birth of our twin babies, 3 years ago, I was on my way towards becoming a vegetarian. We always talked about raising our kids vegetarian and teaching them compassion and empathy for all living things. I could no longer be a hypocrite and stand by and eat animals. So, almost two years ago, I stopped eating meat. All along I justified it by saying that as a high level athlete I needed to eat meat to stay strong and fit. Little did I know, this was the furthest thing from the truth. It actually really made sense with me when I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, as it was backed by facts as to why it is wrong and unhealthy to eat animals.
2. What are some of your favorite vegetarian foods?
I am a huge fan of the Gardein products that are out there. We have a couple local vegan restaurants in the Phoenix area that we love. Green in Scottsdale makes a “No Harm Chicken Parm” that I love, and Pomegranate Cafe in Ahwatukee has some amazing recipes that we love. My taste buds have seemed to ripen since I stopped eating meat, and I really enjoy trying all sorts of new foods.
3. Of all of the major animal rights issues are there any issues that are particularly close to your heart?
I have to say that all of the animal rights issues that are out there really sicken me. I can’t say that just one is more important than another. I am pretty much pissed off whenever I see any animal being abused. I am angered that we as a country are still okay with circuses. I am angered when I hear about people still wearing furs and not caring where they came from. I am afraid for our country when we know what is being produced at the factory farms and it seems as though everyone is oblivious. I am becoming more and more educated on animal rights everyday and am holding onto some hope that people will make a difference and continue to push for the rights of all animals.
4. If a fan were to approach you with questions about how to get involved with animal rights, what advice would you give him or her?
If a fan came to me and asked how they can get involved, I would have to point them to the internet. There are so many groups and organizations that are out there making a difference—from local animal shelters to national organizations like PETA. I would urge them to contact these organizations within their community when they feel they are ready to help make a difference.
5. What do you have coming up that we can be looking forward to?
I fight Oct. 8th in Houston at UFC 136. My opponent is Nick Catone—and he is a meat eater. I will make sure I win.