Alex Cuevas is a buff vegan, but it hasn't always been that way. Vegetarian for 24 years, vegan for the last 14, he met a guy named Nature at a raw vegan potluck in New York City in late 2009. It was then he heard the words that would change his physique and his life. "Never underestimate the power of greens," said Nature, a raw vegan with an imposing, rock solid musculature, all the while chewing on a celery stick.
Cuevas observed the muscle man with awe. At the time, despite working out like a madman, Cuevas still hung steady at a squishy 205 pounds. He slammed Red Bulls before hitting the gym and slugged down protein powders and scientifically engineered supplements by the gullet full. And here was this behemoth body builder who swore he didn't touch creatine or any other laboratory concoctions, extolling the virtues of sprouted almonds and chewing on an unadulterated piece of celery. "I couldn't believe it, no peanut butter, no anything. But I thought to myself, 'I can't just dismiss this guy, because he's strong and muscular.'"
Cuevas had always been invested in the ecological and ethical advantages of veganism. But this chance encounter with Nature was the push he needed to explore the world of super foods and shed the chemicals he'd been relying on for energy and muscle building.
"I started eating a lot of greens. I switched from all the tortillas and beans I had been eating," he says. "I would come home and eat all this crap and wouldn't be able to stop. [As I started researching], I realized it was because I wasn't getting the right nutrients."
Now Cuevas is pretty jacked and weighs just 175 pounds. His pre-workout drinks include chia seeds and wheatgrass instead of sucrose and glucuronolactone. Beyond that, he's become a vegan spokesperson and activist, organizing vegan dinner and juice parties and rallying friends and acquaintances to incorporate exotic health foods into their daily diets. He took on an alter ego, "The Vegan Assassin," so-named because his goal is to assassinate disease, dead-end careers, loneliness, and selfishness through positive lifestyle choices. He also makes funny and informative YouTube videos like this one:
"Juice partnering" is one of his mainstays. Its function is basically to socialize juice fasts to make them easier. Just before moving to Miami in January, he roped about seven or eight people -- from close friends to people he met in the grocery store -- into joining him on a 5-day juice fast whose end would coincide with a big juice party in New York City.
"It helps you to get through it to check in with somebody on a regular basis," he says. Even the Vegan Assassin has weak days. "I was on the second day, and I was feeling kinda hungry, so I reached out to my friend Philip to ask if it was okay to drink coconut water during the fast. He said, 'Yeah, of course. It's juice and it comes from a plant. Go for it.'" Other juice partners suggested juicing new things, like sweet potatoes, turmeric and fennel. With the help of his juicy friends, he was able to get through the fast and celebrate at the party.
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Since relocating to Miami, Cuevas has already held several vegan potlucks with ever-increasing attendance. Soon, he plans to turn his passion for health food into a business. He owns three specialized juicers, including a presser that uses two tons of hydraulic pressure in extracting nutrients from produce. He wants to use his equipment, knowledge, and sociability to launch a juicing, juice-delivery, and juice partnering service, with a friendly, low-pressure sales style.
"Juice partnering will be an aspect of the business. People could come to us just for that, and we'd ask, 'Are you interested in buying the juice from us?' If not, no worries."