I'd like to share with you how and why I adopted a plant-based diet.
I didn’t begin because I was on a moral quest or journey. But it makes me sad to think of how as a young boy I killed animals for no good reason. I shot birds out of the sky when I was 13 or 14, and I killed some lizards in my backyard just to see them die. When I was 14 I shot a rabbit with a bow and arrow. I killed a mouse one time just to get some street cred at a drunken party when I was 16 years old and sober.
I look back now and I feel bad for that child that I was, completely unaware and probably feeling pleasure in that behavior. I might have been reenacting some violence that was perpetrated on me. I might have been releasing some anger. Now I’m deeply sorry to the universe for shortening the life of these creatures before their appointed times.
Those experiences stayed with me in my mind and they have shaped my ideas about compassion today. And because of my experiences I cannot judge anyone negatively for where they are in their life.
My first experience with the plant-based lifestyle occurred during the years that I was training hard to fight. I had to put out a tremendous amount of energy six days a week while keeping my weight very low. I learned very quickly that the only things that would satisfy my hunger, give me energy, keep my weight low, give me quick recovery time, keep my moods happy, and keep my immune system strong were fruits, salads, juices, and smoothies.
For a number of years I ate only those things when training before my Thai Boxing matches. But after my fights I would go back to an obnoxious, unhealthy diet. I was eating far too many calories and I ate whatever I wanted. I would gain 20 to 30 pounds in between fights.
My diet was filled with processed foods and all kinds of flesh-based foods. My hunger could never be satiated. I always had cravings. Sometimes I had cravings for protein because of how it changed my mood and made me feel more grounded because of the food’s density. Other times I craved sugary processed foods because they would give me a brief adrenaline rush.
I needed to add stimulation to my diet. This was because in spite of all my training and all my pleasing accomplishments I was emotionally carrying fragments of grief and depression from my childhood.
In 2010 I opened Juice Press. At that point in time I was working on being completely vegan. I was doing so because I thought it would be better for my health and because I liked the way I looked when I was lighter. As a vegan I always felt brighter and I always felt light on my feet.
Having the high-end kitchen that I had at my first Juice Press outlet made it easy for me to live that lifestyle. I had no excuses to consume anything outside of products from that kitchen.
I had a short relapse during which I just fell back into eating debaucherous food in 2014. But I got back on the wagon around 2015. Since 2015 I’ve had the cleanest diet I’ve ever had in my life.
Something happened to me around 2016. I had a dream about the emotional life of the creatures that we eat. I dreamed that they were frightened. And also in this dream I felt the real difference between the beauty of snow, the absolute marvel of rain, and the glory of mud and soil.
I dreamt of the beauty of flowing water and I could see the glorious miracle of the clouds moving through the sky. And then I could see the horror and the terror of blood being shed from the body.
I realized that there are certain creatures for whom blood is a very big part of their lives. They have a taste for it. They have an instinctual yearning for it, and I realize that they cannot transcend their instincts and their desires. And I said to myself, “Wow, what a remarkable creature I am: Even if I have those desires and instincts, even if the taste of blood is in my mouth from 1,000 lifetimes I can choose to rise above it and choose to only eat plants. I can choose to be compassionate and take myself out of the food chain that involves the taking of animal life.”
So I had to think about it really deeply. I had to ask myself if there really was a difference between taking the life of a plant versus taking the life of an animal. I asked myself if I should regret taking the life of a plant. I realized that that was a possibility, but that within a very short period of time I would experience death.
I realized that most animals likely built their flesh by eating plants. And I realized that I could just simply eat plants. Plants are the first food for most of the creatures of this planet. Perhaps some creatures just thought to themselves, “Why should I struggle to eat the right plants when I can eat that little creature right in front of me?” And such animals grew razor sharp teeth and razor sharp claws and developed the capacity to hear their prey in motion. Such creatures developed the sense of smell to be able to tell where their food was from long distances and night vision for hunting when creatures were vulnerable. They developed different digestive systems to get the nutrients out of the flesh as quickly as possible so that the flesh wouldn’t rot inside the body, causing disease to occur.
Humans developed as omnivorous creatures. It is hardly debatable. We can eat a wide range of foods and exist for quite a long time. If necessary we could live on flesh-based foods with very few plants. And if necessary we could also live on plants only. As omnivores, we have to ask ourselves what is the ideal food source for the region of the earth that we’re in and the overall condition of our surrounding environment.
The state of the environment we’re in and what it might provide are crucial considerations. Unfortunately, most people live in areas bombarded by pollution. Eating processed food adds to the chemical burden on the body. That means that if we make dietary mistakes then they’ll add to the harm caused by existing toxic environmental conditions. We are intoxicated ourselves far more than we would be doing if we lived in the Garden of Eden.
It’s not ideal for the human body to eat flesh foods. One cannot go so far to say that it is a dietary mistake in and of itself if it’s done in moderation (although it’s not compassionate to the animals that are eaten). But it’s unquestionably the case that eating too much animal protein is a dietary mistake.
As fully grown adults we need very little protein in our diet to meet our needs for regeneration and continued growth. But taking in too much protein is similar to taking in too much sunlight. We obviously need sunlight for specific things. But too much of it will burn us and cause skin cancer. This reflects one of the principles of the balance of nature, in which something good can become bad and something bad can become good.
I recommend the plant-based diet for everyone, regardless of their blood type, regardless of their religious background, and regardless of their temperament. That doesn’t mean making the switch will be easy for everyone.
Detoxing will be necessary. They’ll be a degree of mental detoxing, including a certain amount of fear, from losing a connection to a lifelong source of food. And there may be physical detoxing that includes symptoms such as decompression from the high degree of gas that was built up in the body from previous consumption of flesh-based foods.
If we are experiencing undue stress in our lives, the changes might make us feel as if we’d left the planet. We might feel completely ungrounded, and this is not unusual. It’s not a necessary part of the detox process, but it’s just one possibility.
The benefits to your physical body will be incredible if you go through the detoxing process, giving it enough time to work its wonders.
We are actually going through a detox process every single day of our lives. We constantly engage in things to strengthen our physical and mental health, in effect repairing the wear and tear that daily living exacts on us. We make sure that we get enough rest and enough water. We strive to keep a positive attitude. We must pursue the belief systems that empower us. We must do good.
We must take care of the physical body by exercising it and keeping it mobile. We must stay loose, flexible, strong, and agile. And we must teach our bodies different ways to move to avoid impact, danger, and injury as we get older.
There’s always something new to learn with the body. Practicing veganism for a period of time is something new that will stimulate your mind and put your whole body through a beautiful transformation. That will lead you to wonderful things. I hope that it will lead you to a place where you can look an animal in its eyes, see its desire to live, and recognize that you took yourself out of the killing loop.
The longer we do this, the easier it becomes for us to communicate with the animals and for them to trust us. But you need not be confused regarding how people who live beautiful lives in tune with nature will take an animal’s life sustenance. The context for animals’ killing for sustenance is different from ours for a number of reasons. Those reasons include choices that we have regarding our diets and the processing and treatment of animals that we raise for consumption.
Many enlightened humans throughout history chose to not partake of flesh. They had the deepest levels of compassion and the deepest possible connection to the earth that always provided for them. They had a very powerful understanding of the nature of the divine creator and their direct connection to the universe.
Understand that entire communities of people, not only individual gurus, came to such levels of enlightenment. They worked hard to maintain compassion, avoid distraction, and not cause harm to themselves or others.
I very highly recommend that you adopt a plant-based diet. You will be amazed at the positive results that will come to you after a short period of time.