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.”