It’s the summer. Basketball season just wrapped up, football season is months away and I heard that watching those bowling tournaments on TV is considered a form of cruel and unusual punishment in some places. Fortunately, mixed martial arts are a year-round, action packed sport. And even more fortunate is the fact that we sat down with vegan MMA fighter Ricardo Moreira to get his take on the vegan fighter lifestyle. Check it out.
What’s new in the world of Ricardo Moreira the MMA fighter?
I’m currently training for a fight in September in San Francisco. I’m working to drop back down to 145 pounds after bulking up to 155. A lot of people are surprised that on a vegan diet I was able to put on that much body mass.
It’s funny you say that, how were you able to put the mass on?
Just increasing my strength training and adding some calories. I don’t really lift a lot of weights. I do a lot more grappling and pull-ups. It was pretty easy and actually, kind of fun, being able to eat all those foods.
How’d you get started in MMA?
I grew up doing Kenpo Karate. And eventually I competed in full contact karate. In March of 2007, I competed in the first legitimate MMA event in San Francisco. And I was the first event on that card, so in essence, I am the first MMA fighter to get in the cage in San Fran history. I had just become a vegan too! I thought I was the only vegan fighter doing this, until I came across Mac Danzig. That was really refreshing to know there were other people out there doing this.
What do you tell people who say you have to eat meat for protein or for energy to maintain health?
Usually, most of the people who ask those questions or criticize me for being vegan are usually overweight. Most of the athletes I talk to know that these foods I eat are healthy in any other diet, just without the meat products. I replace them with tofu or meat substitutes. There are lots of high protein foods in a vegan diet. It’s not too hard to accommodate.
What kind of feedback do you get from other MMA fighters about being vegan?
Not too many people give me a hard time. I’ve trained with a lot of guys who are vegetarians and there’s a lot of attention paid to individual diets. Everyone understands that fighters do different things to get ready for fights. Lots of fighters eat similar diets to make weight for fights. Living in San Francisco helps a lot too. This is a veg friendly area. I think people are a little more open minded and understanding.
You mention being in a cage, how do you feel about people who cage their animals?
I always stress to people that it’s ridiculous to cage pets. You wouldn’t do that to a child. A pet is a family member, so you treat them as such. And people often disagree with me and say things like ‘animals are animals and people are people.’ And I remind them that not too long ago, people of color or certain sizes or genders were considered less than others. So as society evolves, so will animal liberation. It’s just another step in our society, hopefully.
What do you think it is that makes people wear fur?
Ignorance. Lots of people don’t understand the fur industry or where fur comes from. They just buy things off the rack. They just think it’s fashion. Anyone who knows anything about fur really doesn’t purchase it. People never feel the guilt until they get educated. And it’s not even an attractive fashion. It’s not sexy!
Do you have any advice for people who want to get involved in animal rights?
It might seem cliché, but it’s the same way you educate yourself about anything. Pick up a book and start reading. Read about the history of animal liberation and what can be done. Also, going to websites and getting informed about how you can make a difference. If people’s voices are heard, then changes are made.
Ok, so it’s you and Colonel Sanders in the cage. Do you go for the tapout or the knockout?
I’m going for the KO! Hopefully the ref doesn’t stop it too early.