NAME: John “BAV” Lewis
AGE: 35
OCCUPATION: Healthy Life Consultant
LOCATION: Fort Lauderdale, Fl
WEBSITE: BADASSVEGAN

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN VEGETARIAN? AND WHAT INSPIRED YOUR JOURNEY?

Well I Was vegan for 4 years and then transitioned to vegan.  I have now been vegan 4 years as well and loving every minute of it.

Wow, where to begin … Well how about this, I once weighed 315 lbs as a freshman in high school.  Yes believe it or not that was me.  Through hard work and determination I was able to lose that weight and remain an athlete. Even though I was able to lose the weight and appear to be in better shape, I still ate most of the junk that was out there on the market..  I just had rammed up my cardio level so high that my body was able to burn the mess off faster then it could stick. As Time went on through high school I was still excelling within basketball and had earned a full scholarship to a Division I university in my hometown of St. Louis, Mo.  There I actually got into weight lifting and started to learn more about my body.  By my senior year of college I was 6’5” 225 lbs and only had 7% body fat.  Even though my physical appearance was intimidating I still was not at ease internally.  I had actually had thoughts of dropping the meat from my diet but due to the fact that I grew up in a meat eating family and was surrounded by meat eaters wherever I went… it was not easy to entertain the thoughts of being vegetarian or vegan.

Fast forward to my graduate school days when I started my first master’s degree.  I had just moved to south Florida and I was starting to notice a change in my body that was hard to ignore.  Basically I was a little too “Regular” if you know what I mean.   So I took a visit to the doctor to have a check up and see what may be the problem.  He asked me question that I will never forget … “John, do you eat a lot of meat?”  I responded “Sure, but I don’t think it is out of the ordinary, look at how big I am.”  The Doctor told me that he wanted me to try not eating meat for 30 days and see how I felt after that 30 days.  Well let’s just say that would not have been my first choice (I was a fan of a good Philly cheesesteak).  I did figure that he was the Doctor though so I would try it.

Even though the Doctor suggested that I complete 30 days of this meatless fast, I did not make it to the full 30 days.  I noticed that only after 2 weeks of avoiding the meat that I had become completely regular and that my stomach felt a million times better.  At first I was torn between the fact that I loved meat so much and the fact that I had healed myself by avoiding meat all together.  So I had to make a call, and my health won that battle.  And even though I gave up the meat, I still did not give up the cheese, milk,  & eggs.

My career in health and fitness was taking a turn for the better and my research into the human body and nutrition made me look more and more at my own health.  I was a vegetarian for 4 years before I finally realized that I was in an “unfaithful relationship” to my health and finally made the commitment to drop the dairy and eggs.  Even though I had felt so much better I was shocked at how much growth my body and mind was able to show when I went all out vegan.  I was so impressed at how well I felt, I wanted to share with the world

HAS VEGETARIAN ENHANCED YOUR HEALTH? WHY OR WHY NOT? 

I love seeing people develop the confidence to listen to their bodies and understand that nutrition is the key to optimum health. Since becoming raw I am able to train harder than ever and recover in half the time. I have a clear train of thought and my memory is great considering the million things that I am involved in on a daily basis. I am currently still educating myself about the human body and how nutrition is the key to a healthy life (not pills or magic potions).

Now that I have been working in the health and fitness field I have done countless hours of research on the benefits of not only becoming vegan, but also the numerous accounts of eating a raw plant based diet.  I, myself, have now been a raw vegan for  over a year now and going strong.  I have seen my body go through various changes and have learned to listen to my body and how it will always tell you what it needs and what it does not need.

IN RETROSPECT, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MEAT? OR DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON AMERICA’S MEAT INDUSTRY?

Not only am I just a vegan in what I eat, I do not wear leather, nor do I have leather furniture.  I believe that all living creatures have a purpose and furniture and clothing is not one of them. Yes I get it all the time about animals being here for us to eat … and I respond all the time.

“We are not carnivores, we do not even have carnivorous teeth … and if you think we do I want you to go up to a cow and try to rip the meat off of the cow with nothing but your teeth and if you are still conscious after the cow kicks you I want to know if you still think we are carnivores.” I have also done countless hours of research on what animal protein does to our “human” system and have seen the effects of how changing to a plant based diet has reversed various ailments and diseases.

I find it remarkable how the meat industry promotes the outstanding amounts of protein intake that humans need when indeed we can get all the nutrients from a plant based diet without any of the long term side effects.

WAS THERE A COMMUNITY OF BLACK MEN THAT HELPED YOU ALONG YOUR MEATLESS JOURNEY? AND IF NOT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO CHANGE THIS FOR OTHERS?

I actually didn’t have a heavy influence of black men to lead me into land of becoming vegetarian.  As a native of St. Louis, vegan is as close as close to cursing out your parents as you can get so there was not an influence there.  Once I moved to Florida, I was able to see the options that were available to someone on a plant based diet.  I had never seen a plantain nor avocado until I moved so Florida.  So I think that environment has a lot to do with our lifestyles as well.  Becoming vegan has done so much for me.  I was so impressed at how well I felt, I wanted to share with the world  how being a vegan is not a bad thing and that we can be cool, healthy and dispel the myth that we just sit around all day and hug trees. That is where the name BAD ASS VEGAN came from, I wanted to show the world of vegan was not for the weak or lame, but for the strong, determined, cool & bad ass! On the website, people of all kinds are welcome. This site is different from other sites in the fact that it is understood that you can be cool and still be a vegan.

So whether you are just converting or have been a vegan since birth — this is that place for you.  People can come in and look around the site and enjoy the ride. You will be able to share everything from advice, motivational tactics, recipes, workout tips, focus groups, blogs, going green and much more.

*Jim Morris is my mentor and at the time I wrote this article I had met him yet. He has been a huge influence in my progress as a vegan athlete and I owe him a lot.

Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian? Email shane@frugivoremag.com if you’d like to be featured in the Black Vegetarian Series. Check back every Tuesday and Friday for a new profile! Click to read past profiles here.

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17 Comments

  1. Great story of your journey. I am inspired by you. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Very inspiring story. I’m transitioning now from vegetarian to vegan. I think once a person becomes emotionally detached from food, their body and their ego…this lifestyle is a natural outcome. Thanks for the inspiration

  3. ” I had never seen a plantain nor avocado until I moved so Florida.” I like that part. 😀 It shows like he said, environment is a factor of diet too. You have to pay more to do better if you don’t have it in your area. The part about trying to be like a lion/predator eating at a cow, then seeing if you would get kicked in the face, opened up my eyes too. Also it’s crazy how I saw a post from Forks over Knives on Facebook that said, it’s funny how the food market/companies make excretions from a cow is somehow healthy! I see both sides. Women make milk for their children, and so do cows. Hmmm. Are we too big for milk?!

  4. Love the name and the ideas behind its inspiration. Stopped eating poultry 18 years ago, fish 17 years ago and dairy 16 years ago (went back to dairy about 3 years ago, in limited amounts).

  5. I think this guy needs to start eating meat, cuz he’s just too scrawny. I like my black men to look like real men. This “skinny white boy” look that been infecting our community has just got to stop. At least he has a nice smile.

  6. Great site. Truth. The best health care plan is Eat to Live – take control of your diet from the suits and men and women in white coats as my lawyer and dear friend says.

  7. Loving all these young Black people who are vegans. Look at their smiles, their body temples, their attitudes, their health as they choose ne and muscle of our dear animal friends and ir attitudes, their body temples without the secretions, mucus, pus, blood, bone and skin of our animal friends, and the flesh of our animal co-inhabitants who live in the wild and various bodies of water. The sister Janelle apparently equates fat, not lean muscle with a healthy male image. I never knew that a real man was one who was big in mass and melanin in his skin. I always thought of real men according to their attitude, character, actions, emotional health, and relationship to the Creato.r regardless of their body mass. btw, John Lewis is neither scrawny nor does he have the “skinny White boy look.”

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