"Get big. Get big. Get big!"
In Miami, it's the mantra that rings in many young men's ears as they wrap their throats around piles of red meat, chicken, tuna, and chalky shake mixes with names like XPlode, NeuroCore, and Hemo-Rage. They eat whey protein to bulk up, nitric oxide to increase oxygen flow, and creatine to inflate muscles (with water). I'm not even gonna touch the roids issue, but anyone who's had his eyes open for more than ten seconds in South Beach knows it's still raging among this population.
Say the word vegan around any of these muscle heads, and they'd probably laugh mouthfuls of stagnant gym air right in your celery-eating face.
Unless, of course, you're jacked like Danny David.
David is a certified fitness trainer, nutritionist, model, and soon-to-be author, currently in Vancouver. He feeds his muscles with a 70 percent raw, all-plant-based diet, but it wasn't always that way.
"I started out on a more conventional bodybuilding track... I got up to 210 pounds," he says. "At the time, I was working in New York as a fitness model, but I wasn't really running on fuel. I was running on energy drinks and eating as much as I could -- meat protein, whey protein. It eventually led to my body and mind breaking down. I went to the hospital, and they found I had severe tissue damage."
After his crash in 2007, David found raw foods while in pursuit of some spiritual development.
"I started with practicing energy work, became less resistant, and began meditating more," he says. "And I was living in New York, so then my friends started taking me to juice bars, and I cut out a lot of meat. It actually started with me doing a one-week raw cleanse, and I just loved it so much that I didn't want to stop."
These days, he hasn't given up fitness-promoting powders; he has simply shifted his source from the back-alley petri dish to the organic greenhouse. He's an ambassador for Sunwarrior, a company that produces athletic supplements from activated barley, oat grass, parsley, alfalfa, spinach, probiotic cultures, and sprouted whole grain brown rice.
"I like the Protein Raw Vegan mix a lot. It has a high amino acid profile, its efficiency of absorption of vitamins is also really high, and it's actually a whole food -- it's sprouted brown rice. I mix it with Liquid Light mineral complex, and it replenishes all that I'm losing when I'm sweating."
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But an even bigger part of his nutrition intake comes from plant-based food you put on a plate. As a postworkout meal, he typically eats two cups of quinoa, a cup of lentils, avocado, and a mix of kale and spinach.
"Food is energy, and the typical American diet is lacking," he says. "A meal like that gives me all the micronutrients, macronutrients, and whole living enzymes I need. It's easy for my body to break down and direct the nutrition to where it needs to go. The enzymes act as codes, so instead of sitting in my stomach, they're directed into the bloodstream immediately. The average American does not get anything like that."
David adds that supplementing with multivitamins does little or nothing to create a nutrient-rich environment in the blood, because the body doesn't properly absorb, and therefore excretes, the majority of the nutrients in a typical one-a-day. "Multivitamins are basically like paying for your urine to look like lemonade," he says.