January 24th, 2012 by Webmaster
Ricardo Moreira doesn’t worry about not getting enough protein. This vegan cage fighter is solid as steel, but with a heart of gold. Moreira will be donating a portion of his winnings from his upcoming fight on February 11 to In Defense of Animals. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, be sure to check out Ricardo’s adrenaline-pumping cage fight and support the animals at the same time! IDA interviewed Moreira about his veganism and unique profession.
IDA: Why did you become vegan?
Ricardo Moreira: I’ve always loved animals, and I am a lifelong martial artist. Within the martial arts, there are many codes of conduct, one of which is to respect all forms of life. Veganism goes hand in hand with my martial arts training and philosophy.
IDA: When did you go vegan?
Moreira: I went vegan in 2006. I was lacto/ovo vegetarian prior to the transition. I was initially a bit hesitant to go full-blown vegan due to all the misinformation I had come across concerning athletic performance on a vegan diet. Luckily I was put in touch with two vegan bodybuilders, Kenneth Williams and Robert Cheeke, who helped me develop a high-protein vegan diet to fit my sport’s needs.
IDA: What is your martial arts/fighting background?
Moreira: I grew up studying martial arts, starting with Kenpo Karate. I simply fell in love with the virtues and lifestyle. I quickly realized that teaching was going to be my life’s aspiration, and that competitive fighting was intricate to that goal. I started competing in professional kickboxing over ten years ago, and in 2007, I made the transition to mixed martial arts. With a 2nd degree black belt in Kenpo Karate and a competition background in Muay Thai, I am best described as a “stand up” fighter within my current sport.
IDA: Are fellow fighters supportive or critical of your diet?
Moreira: At the professional level, the other fighters are both respectful and supportive of my veganism. Initially I stood alone but, since 2006, there have been a few high level MMA fighters that adopted the diet, including top-ranked UFC fighter Jake Shields. There are also a lot of vegetarians in the sport; in fact, mixed martial arts has the most vegetarians of any contact sport.
IDA: What are your plans for the future?
Moreira: When the time comes for me to walk away from the cage altogether, I intend to open a martial arts gym. I’m looking forward to producing an environment where the athleticism of today’s fighters meets the discipline and virtues of the traditional arts. I will also continue to spread awareness and fight my most important fights… the ones outside the cage.