My name is Matt (@vegan_thor on Insta), and I have been living here in Miami for about two and a half years now. I moved down from Michigan to pursue a Master’s degree in Marine Biology, which I recently received from the University of Miami, I also have six rescued kitties that I plucked off the streets here in Miami. They are all under 15 months old. I volunteer my Sunday mornings to help take care of the animals over at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, and protest for a variety of causes a few times a month. I will be splitting my time between a few different jobs come beginning of the New Year. I will be working as a field technician throughout the Everglades, and then with my spare time, I will be working on a science barge that is 100% sustainable using solar energy, and aquaponics… as well as tutoring middle school and high school kids. I am still hoping to find time in 2017 to start up an online store where I can start selling some of my vegan shirt designs.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
I realized I wanted to go vegan once I gathered enough information, through self-education, that it was not only the healthiest way to live but that I would still be able to get all the sustenance I needed to support my fitness lifestyle.
How long have you been Vegan?
I have been fully vegan for about 13 months now, and a flexitarian for about a year before that
Why is being Vegan important to you?
Being vegan is important to me because it allows you to be a part of something greater than yourself while supporting the most important causes that plague our planet today. We’re talking about climate change, hunger, deforestation, pollution, animal genocide, and the number one cause of death in humans; i.e. heart disease. I also have a history of health issues in my family. My grandfather, father, and brother all died from cancer, so I know that I am predisposed to certain health issues. I realized that I needed a head start to combat anything that is lying in wait for me later down the road.
Any recommended Vegan books?
How Not to Die and The China Study
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Documentaries are the greatest way to pick up some general background information because they will typically back up any claims with proven studies and statistics. They will also reference specific scientific articles/studies, or at least point you in the right direction so you have a starting point when diving into your own research. I’m talking about Forks Over Knives (health benefits) and Cowspiracy (environmental benefits). There’s also a new document, Food Choices, which does a nice job answering all the basic questions people may have about veganism.
Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.
I would like to think of myself as a walking billboard for veganism, through Instagram mainly, but then also in the real world. As most vegans know, the places and the people you frequent most will most certainly know you’re vegan sooner rather than later, because it is all we talk about… right? Seriously though, once you get a couple nice vegan shirts people will start asking you questions about your lifestyle. It is a great icebreaker, whether it’s while you are out to dinner or in the gym. Animal activism and protesting is another great way to promote veganism if done properly. It can be abrasive at times, but it all depends on the type of person that you encounter. Sometimes, it’s a great wake up call. Other times, it can make people angry and more or less fuel their fire and do something simply out of spite. Be sure to know your audience, and that the best way to convince someone that veganism is the only lifestyle worth living is by planting the idea in their mind, but ultimately it has to come to them naturally as if it was their own idea.
Do you miss any non-Vegan foods?
I might have at first, but now there really isn’t a single thing out there that doesn’t have a great vegan substitute. I would say that instead of missing a specific food, I really just miss the convenience of grabbing something quickly while on the go… As soon as vegan fast food joints become as popular as McDonald’s, there will be no stopping the vegan movement.
What is your favorite Vegan meme?
I can’t say I really have a favorite meme. I would say any meme that I can actually relate to, which most recently has been any Kermit meme. The whole me vs. inner me debate on how we should act towards others vs how I really feel on the inside.
What is your favorite Vegan stereotype?
That you need meat for vitamins such as B12… I don’t even think most of those people even realize that meat doesn’t actually contain B12. It’s actually sourced from bacteria, so not only are there plenty of fortified foods with B12 in it, I am also able to take a supplement. I won’t even bother bringing up the protein stereotype because again, most people who want to say that do not even know how much protein someone actually needs to consume in a day.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
What’s your favorite recipe? Please share it.
I would have to say it is either my smoky cashew cheese or my spicy bbq seitan jerky. Both recipes are made from scratch and are actually fairly simple.
Cheese: cashews, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, and water/unflavored almond milk
Seitan: gluten flour, onion powder, liquid amino acid, and water
BBQ sauce: ketchup, mustard, siracha, red pepper flake, onion powder, pepper, agave, liquid smoke, and liquid amino acid
(I will say that nothing is measured and everything is eyeballed, so that keeps some of the mystery behind my recipes.)
What is the one big stereotype you hear about Vegans that you want to dispel?
That veganism is a diet or that it is healthy. Plant-based eating is a diet; veganism is a lifestyle that effects all aspects of your life. And just because you are eating a plant based does not mean you are eating healthy. There are plenty of processed foods and junk foods that can make any vegan unhealthy if they so choose.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Once you become a part of the vegan community, you have endless people there for you to help show you the way. It may be tough in the beginning, getting over odd cravings or easily finding vegan alternatives, but that period does not last long. You will be surprised at how easy it is to find and make everything you used to love eating. You will become a foodie, and start eating fruits that you have never even heard of before transitioning over to a plant based diet. Not to mention, you will feel like you are contributing to one of the greatest decisions humans can make to try and leave this world in a better condition than when we entered it, so there really is no greater high.
Are you a cruelty-Free vegan?
Yes, I do not buy any products that have come from, or have been tested on, animals.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
I really do not have a tough time finding any vegan alternative. I keep my life fairly simple anyway, so I am rarely buying things outside of necessity.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I have never personally struggled with veganism, but the lifestyle gives you a new perspective on society and how everyone else is living in the dark. It’s difficult because you will never be able to convince someone that they are in the dark, and society thinks you’re “weird” for this newly found “light” we’ve all discovered. The real struggle is living in a society that doesn’t understand the suffering that they are causing, and it can sometimes give you a little hope for the world in which we live. Vegans do not suffer from internal struggle, but we suffer from a struggle with the society in which we are forced to deal with every single day.
What is one question you would ask other Vegans? Please answer it.
For those into bodybuilding or contest prep, how does one switch their diet to where they are eating low carbs but maintaining their protein intake? I would imagine they drop all unnecessary carbs, such as simple sugars and grains. Stop eating pastas, rices, and breads during this period. But even still, outside of my protein supplement, I have yet to really find a food source that is high in protein and low in carb.