Q&A with Vegan Rugby Player, Dan DeFontes

During the past year and a half Dan DeFontes has lived a vegan lifestyle that shreds the vegan stereotype. Dan has spent the last two semesters playing one of the most contact sports, Rugby.  He is a student player in the Rowan University Men’s Intramural Rugby League.

Dan shares his exercise routine and rugby experience while waiting for his practice outside of the fields.


What made you go vegan?

“Once I started learning about it, I just decided that it was worth a shot at least, and once I gave it a try and stuck with it I started to really like it. Now I’ve been a vegan for a long time.”

What were the few things that really made a big impact on going vegan?

“At first it was the environment and my health, I could care less about the life of an animal. I made all of the same excuses that everybody else says, ‘they’re bred to be our food, their lives don’t matter,’ but once I started embracing the lifestyle, you start realizing that they’re not our property. Now for me today, the most important aspect of ‘veganism’ is animal liberation and the life of that animal, as compared to my health or the impact on the environment.”


What is the hardest part about being vegan?

“It’s not finding what foods to eat or what clothes to wear or any of that stuff. Sometimes I feel that it’s really dealing with other people that can be the hardest. Some people just have such a negative attitude towards vegans. Dealing with the constant jokes, remarks ignorance.”

Do any of the vegan stereotypes affect you as a rugby player?

“Absolutely not, I find that the exact opposite is true. I’ve never felt healthier or made more gains faster in the gym. People have this idea that vegans are weak, but their are many top athletes all over the world, olympic weight lifters to Ultramarathon runners who are all vegan. They only eat vegetables, it’s the best diet in the world and it baffles my mind that people have such a little understanding of the nutrition.”

How do you get your protein?

“Protein is the easy one. Mostly from beans, but other things like tofu, peanut butter, even whole grain rice and bread. I eat roughly 180 grams of protein a day, which is a very healthy amount. Perfect for building muscle, playing a sport, recovery and all that stuff. I have no problem getting plenty of protein.”

After practice, Dan makes what he calls “power plates” in the campus’s cafeteria.


Top left plate: White Rice with Quinoa, oranges, pineapple and carrot strips.
Top right bowl: Lentil and black bean soup
Middle plate or “Power Plate”: Chickpeas, red kidney beans, black beans, green beans, carrot strips, coos coos, tomatoes all topped on a bed of dark leafy greens.

How do you feel about people who think that they can only get protein from meat?

“First things first, a lot of people I think eat way to much protein. I think you don’t need as much protein as people think you need. If you eat sufficient calories, there has never been a recorded case of protein deficiency on the entire planet. Nobody has ever died of protein deficiency, as long as you get sufficient calories, whether it’s from plants or from animals, you’re going to get sufficient protein.”

What would you tell someone who is thinking about going vegan, but skeptical? 

“I would tell them to just try it. The way I would recommend doing it is, say you’re going to have one vegan day of eating, even if it’s only one out of the seven days of the week. But than maybe next week you bump it up to two days. Even if you decide to have a vegan breakfast, everyday this week you’re going to have a vegan breakfast. Slowly but surely you’re going to have more and more vegan meals into your diet and next thing you know, you’re going to be a vegan.”



How to win the vegan argument

So your friends laugh and point at you for being vegan. They shun you and never talk to you again because of your rabbit-like diet. You lock yourself in your room with the lights off and never peak your head out of your covers. It’s happened to every vegan, or has it????, and now it’s time to combat their jokes with actual facts.

In all seriousness, I had and still do plenty of friends who act like my vegan lifestyle is nothing more than a character booster or just another phase. Over the time I’ve been vegan, I’ve had to debate my lifestyle to many respectable arguments, and also arguments with those who seem to be allergic to facts and/or someone else’s opinion. It’s inevitable, so I suggest to learn the facts, do your research, and become confident with your lifestyle.

Here are some starting points…

First of all, watch Cowspiracy. This will teach you basic information that most people don’t know.

Second, do your own research! It’s not enough to just quote a documentary, what’s important is that you know credible information to source for your ignorant friends.

Other credible sources of information for debate that will leave your friends

begging for mercy,

in fetal position,

calling for their mother

and finally, converting them to a vegan lifestyle.

Pick yourself up by the bootstraps and learn how to STAY vegan!

This time around you want to stay vegan. For you and many, it’s hard, and with a simple slip up, you can find yourself starting from the beginning all over again. Well I’ll keep the b.s to a minimum and tell you that it’s not difficult to stay vegan!!!!! Without change of habit, you cannot truly make a transition in your life, both mentally and physically. In order to become a vegan and STAY vegan, one must make the transformation to passion and desire. Figure out why you want to be vegan so that whenever you are tested, you have a passionate desire to not give in.

What helped me to find my passionate desire to go and stay vegan?

Before I was vegan, I was vegetarian, which is usually how most people transition into the lifestyle, but they feel that they cannot make that step. The most common sayings that I hear are “but I love cheese too much” and/or “what would I even eat?”

What helped  me was watching a video that changed my mindset on not only food, but a broader understanding of societies blinded, contradicting and greedy way of life. Don’t get this confused, I did not just watch a documentary I saw on Netflix and believe everything I heard. I was so compelled, or passionate, to see if the information was true that I started to do my own research with respected and credible sources.

It is time to realize that vegans are courageous, noble and smart. If you can apply this realization to whenever you are tested in your diet, than you can create the will power to become and stay vegan.

So now it’s time to pull yourself up by the vegan bootstraps and find the reason that will build your passion, that will lead into a desire, for living a more courageous, noble and smarter lifestyle.


Hello readers. My name is Andrew Turco and I am a journalism student at Rowan University. This blog was started for a project in my online journalism class. I decided to make the topic on breaking the stereotype of being vegan. As most of us know, whether you are vegan or not, the stereotype for a vegan tends to be weak, fragile, hipster and etc. To my fellow vegan individuals, it is obvious to us that the majority do not represent the stereotype. The mission for this blog is to share a community of vegans who break that stereotype. In the next few weeks, I will interview bodybuilders, musicians and anyone that represents a “macho” aesthetic while also being vegan! Lets get excited to End The Stereotype.