The best way to describe South Florida's own John Lewis (AKA the Bad Ass Vegan) is, well, as a badass. A trainer, nutrition coach, entrepreneur, and all-around role model for meatless eating, he's breaking the mold when it comes to plant-based living.
An athlete always (including a turn as a Division I College basketball player), Lewis has channeled his passion for health and fitness into a vegan brand that's changing lives (not to mention changing minds -- his muscles are single-handedly shooting down the whole vegans-don't-get-enough-protein myth). His Bad Ass Vegan Power Cookies (which are delicious, btw), can be found all over the place, from Choices Cafe to Green Bar Kitchen.
We spoke to Lewis on overcoming stereotypes, pulling the veil back from the meat and dairy industries, and why being vegan is the best thing ever.
Clean Plate Charlie: What does it mean to be a Bad Ass Vegan?
John Lewis: Bad ass vegan is a vegan that breaks the stereotype of the traditional vegan. Bad Ass Vegans go to concerts, work out, eat healthy, travel, and basically love to have a great time but with one aspect that is different than the norm: We don't believe in killing any animals to enjoy our life.
It's also about eating healthy to prevent disease in the first place so that we can eliminate the use of so many harsh chemicals [drugs] in the body that bring on dependency to other drugs. It's really about leaving the world in a better state and being a great representation that doesn't bash others but just shows that this lifestyle is possible without cruelty to other living things.
What are the main misconceptions you're frequently shooting down about veganism?
Oh wow, where do I begin? Well, for starters, most people think that veganism will make you sickly and weak, but one of my main points in my presentations is the fact that if you check any hospital in the world, they are not full of people who only eat fruits and veggies.
I have heard that if we stop eating animals that they will take over the Earth... which is a huge misconception. Humans are one of the few animals that have sex for pleasure. Other animals have mating seasons, which means they would not have offspring all year long like we do. If anyone needs population control, it's not the animals.
What does your daily diet look like?
My daily intake of food is pretty simple. I like to make food that is tasty and easy to make.
I like to ingest my higher-calorie meals earlier in the day.
Meal 1: Bad Ass Power Cookie
Meal 2: 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup kale, half cup of seitan
Meal 3: Bad Ass Protein Power Shake*
Meal 4: 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup kale, half cup of seitan
Meal 5: Bad Ass Protein Power Shake*
Meal 6: 2 cup kale, half cup of seitan
*Note: I am in the finalizing process of developing my next product, which is the Bad Ass Protein. Looking to having that available to the public within a few months.
How do you see the future of veganism and mainstream eating?
I actually believe that veganism is actually headed towards the mainstream (if it's not already there). I just believe that it will be more acceptable by the public and not looked at as crazy. I think that the more and more the veil is pulled back over the meat and dairy industry and how an animal is processed to become a plate of food, then people will start to understand the decision not to want to be involved in that. I also believe that the more people educate themselves on the multiple diseases and disorders (too many to name here) that are related to the ingestion of animal protein, veganism will become more and more mainstream.
Name five awesome things about being vegan:
1) Being able to train for long periods of time without having a long recovery time and live a long healthy life.
2) Knowing that my decision to live this lifestyle is saving countless lives!
3) Being able to be an example to people young and old that no matter where you come from, it is OK to change your life and care about others.
4) Being able to wear clothes or eat food that I know no animal or human had to lose their life in order for me to eat my meal or to stay in the latest fashion (at least I think I'm in the latest fashion...).
5) Looking forward to having children of my own one day to teach them about compassion and hopefully infect the world with it.