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As his title suggests, King of the Cage World Champion Mac Danzig spends a good deal of time beating professional fighters into submission. While this is extremely cool, it’s just one of the reasons why he has so many fans here at peta2. As it turns out, Mac, who’s sponsored by Warrior Wear, is as passionate about animal rights as he is about dominating the ring. Shortly after a commanding title defense against Buddy Clinton, Mac took some time to talk to us about the secrets of his success, his plans for the future, and why going vegan was one of the best decisions he ever made. Have a look at the highlight reel that Mac sent us, then check out his exclusive interview below.
What made you go vegan? How long has it been?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a profound respect and interest in nature and animals. I guess it’s just in my blood. I grew up poor by American standards and was raised to eat whatever we could afford. I remember being 13 and seeing a truck on the interstate filled with pigs all headed to the slaughterhouse. One of them made eye contact with me for a while. It was one of the saddest moments I can remember. There was so much intelligence and spirit in him, and here he was, being sent to an awful death. …
It wasn’t until I was 20 and I got a job working at an animal sanctuary in Pennsylvania called Ooh-Mah-Nee Farm that I was able to meet people who were vegan and realize how strongly some people felt about it and how many healthy alternatives to animal products there were. I experimented with a vegan diet for about a year, but once I started training full-time for fighting, I believed what certain people said and started eating chicken again because I thought that I had to have some kind of animal protein in order to be a successful athlete. It was crazy because my diet was still pretty much vegan, except for chicken about three times a week. It never sat right with me. … I would still go through spells where I just couldn’t eat it, and about 2 years ago, I read a Mike Mahler article on an animal rights Web site where he explained his vegan diet for training in detail, and I said, “That’s it—I can do it too,” and I started 100 percent vegan again for life and I’ve never looked back. I feel great.
Has being vegan helped your training and helped you maintain your weight class?
Absolutely. When I decided to go vegan, I was able to make the 155-pound weight class much easier, and I haven’t lost an ounce of muscle. I’m leaner than I used to be, and I have much more energy than I used to.
PETA has a campaign in which we’re trying to get KFC to introduce animal welfare standards for its chicken suppliers. What do you think about companies like KFC that refuse to make even the smallest steps to reduce animal suffering?
It’s just ignorance. They simply don’t care and are motivated by greed. That’s all there is to say about those sorts of companies.
What are your favorite vegan foods generally, and what do you eat when you’re training?
When I’m not in training, I eat Soy Delicious ice cream and vegan chocolate chip cookies like they’re going out of style. There’s also some awesome vegan restaurants out here in L.A., like Native Foods, that have great vegan pizza. When I’m in training, I eat a lot of brown rice, tofu, oatmeal, and of course lots of vegetables and fruit.
What is it that motivates you to fight despite the injuries and lack of job security?
That’s a hard question. I really just love the sport, and I’ve put so much of my life’s direction into it that I owe it to myself to see how far I can take it. I want to compete against the best in the world, and until I’ve done that, I won’t be satisfied.
In a year from now, where in your fighting career do you see yourself? Are you concerned about Fuji Network cutting ties with [Japanese Mixed Martial Arts Organization] Pride?
Hopefully in a year I will have gotten to compete in either Pride or K-1 Heroes. Even though Pride was dropped by Fuji TV, I’m confident they will be around just as strong in the years to come. They didn’t get to where they are now by being poor businesspeople. I have already gotten offers from some major organizations that I unfortunately wasn’t able to take because of my contract with KOTC, but I know that if I’m patient, my time will come and I’ll get my shot.
What would you say to fans who are thinking about going vegetarian but don’t know where to start?
I would have to tell them that it’s easier than you think. … I think one of the best first actions for someone who is taking baby steps towards vegetarianism is eliminating all dairy products. Too many people quit eating all meats and then overload themselves with cheese and dairy to compensate. Then they wonder why they feel worse than they did before. I say quit dairy and eat a lot of grains and vegetables, then it will become apparent soon enough that you do not need any other animal product either.
What is your message to young people who are just learning about animal rights?
If you truly care about animal rights and have a passion for it, take some action. Whether it’s hands-on or political, just go for it. No matter what path you choose in life or what you decide to do, you can use your voice to educate other people and help the cause. … Speak with confidence about what you believe in and don’t try to change people by force. Instead, educate them whenever they seem curious about animal rights or being vegetarian. Not everybody outside of the scene is evil—many of them are just ignorant and may actually turn over a new leaf if you help show them how. Just remember that life is too short to wait. Get out there and volunteer, check out all the programs PETA has on the Web site. There’s hardly anything more rewarding than helping an animal who needs it.
We can’t absolutely guarantee that you’ll be a world champion fighter if you go vegan, but there’s no doubt that it’s one of the best things that you can do for your own health and for animals.