Becoming a Vegan
Veganism can be a loaded word. For some, it symbolizes a spiritual, healthy, and humane way of eating. For others, it conjures up thoughts of skinny, animal rights zealots.
Donovan Green is a martial artist, author, personal trainer, nutritionist, and…
…a vegan. As a Jamaican-born, Bronx-bred, muscular, ball of energy, he turns the negative stereotypes about vegans upside down.
Donovan stuttered as a child and was the victim of bullies. Not wanting to remain a victim, he took up exercise and martial arts. His body grew stronger and he became more confident. He also gained more empathy and a love of people who were facing similar struggles.
Now, as a personal trainer, he calls these people, “The Forgotten Crowd.” These are the people who aren’t worrying about bikini bodies and six-pack abs. They just want to feel better and be healthy.
A career as a personal trainer was the perfect vehicle to not only express his love and empathy but to help people make the same changes he had.
Giving Up Red Meat
Donovan first ventured into veganism about 22 years ago. Something in his spirit told him that eating meat was not the right thing for him to do. He wondered, if the spices his mother and other’s cooked with gave the food most of its flavor, why you would need to take an animal life to add to the plate? This wasn’t consistent with the spiritual, peaceful life he was gradually being drawn to.
He first gave up red meat. Then he cut back on his consumption of fish and chicken. Over the next several years, he intermittently followed a strict vegan diet. Over that period, he sometimes gave into a desire for fish or chicken. He also flirted with vegetarianism and added dairy and eggs to his food plan. But over the last three years he dove all the way in. He has not consumed any animal products in the last three years.
Getting Enough Protein As a Vegan
He gets tired of the question, “How do you get enough protein?” He points out that because of overabundance in Western society, people are already consuming too much protein. This is putting an unhealthy load on their internal organs.
He also says that if you eat a varied diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, you will get all the protein you need – along with the micronutrients that most people are missing in their protein-heavy diets. Donovan listens to his body to tell him what it needs in the way of nutrients. He gets his clients to slow down to pay attention to their own nutrition signals.
It’s attention to fresh, organic food, micronutrients, and resistance training that have given him his impressive physique and energy. Protein is not a focus and animal protein is not a necessity.
Donovan is proof that you can build a strong body without animal protein. In fact, Donovan says that he is faster, stronger, and more muscular since becoming a vegan.
Donovan gives the example of animals like gorillas, oxen, and horses that become quite powerful on their version of a vegan diet.
Veganism and Six-Pack Abs
He wants people to understand that veganism is not a weight loss plan. It’s a way of eating that excludes animal products. If you’re a vegan, you can (and many do) still eat a lot of junk. He points out his “Kryptonite”food of Oreos as an example. Oreos are technically ok for vegans to eat. They make that “cream-filled” center with something other than real cream. He understands his weakness and carves out a monthly ritual with his son where they share an entire package of Oreos.
He doesn’t hide this weakness from his clients. He lets them know he is human, too, and that makes him more relatable. That kind of sharing also means that they will be more open to looking at the healthy aspects of his lifestyle and modeling those.
He wants his clients to pay even more attention to the “primary food” of healthy relationships, a rewarding career, and a spiritual practice.
Donovan makes it clear that some people aren’t cut out for veganism. His hope is that rather than divide ourselves with competing food gospels, people of good faith will join together to address the issues that affect all of us. Things like the growing threat to clean air and water, and sustainable food supplies.