BRUNO CARVALHO: Vegan Warrior Royalty


Bruno Carvalho is 32 year-old welterweight MMA champ who is a Brazillian transplant living in Sweden, training with Team Carvalho at Allstar Training Center. His warrior lineage is no surprise, with a grandfather who was a seventh Dan in Judo and founded the Itapagipano de Judô Club in Brazil in 1966,  a great-uncle who was a Vale Tudo legend, and an five black belt uncles, one of whom gave Bruno his black belt in Jiu-Jitsu in 2003. Bruno went on to win more than fifty trophies in Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Wrestling, among them four BJJ State Championships and a Silver Medal at the European Championships in Jiu-Jitsu in 2007.


Bruno had an eight-fight unbeaten run from 2009 to 2011 which culminated in capturing the Middleweight Championship of World Freefight Challenge, the biggest and most professional Mixed Martial Arts organization in Southern Europe – but Bruno’s last fight in October of 2013 ended with Carvalo knocked out. For the last several months, Bruno has been training hard, preparing for his next fight against Norwegian Moshen Bahari on March 22, 2014. Part of Carvalho’s edge is that he has been vegan for over two years, and credits his veganism for the seemingly limitless endurance that he displays while training seven-day weeks.


Bruno took a break from training to have a quick chat with me:

Joshua Katcher:  Bruno, when was your last fight and how did it go? When is your next, and what are you doing to prepare?
Bruno Carvalho: My last fight was in October of last year [2013], it didn’t go so well. I’ve been dealing with lots of injures and personal stuff. I’m fighting Moshen Bahari on March 22, 2014 in Denmark, and I’m preparing very well, all the shit has passed, and now it’s full focus!

JK: You grew up surrounded by martial arts. Your family is a sort of ‘martial arts royals’. What was that like, and did you ever consider doing anything else?
BC: That was and is the best thing I can think of and wouldn’t ask God for something else! Never considered doing another thing, that’s how my family lives and that’s what I love to do!

JK: Outside of fighting and training, what are you up to?373796_10150394156766336_322591490_n
BC: I read a looooot about everything, love to read on nutrition, health… All vegan related book and athletes, also successful people’s biographies. From them we can always learn!

JK: You moved from Brazil to Sweden. Was that a bit of culture shock? Did it have anything to do with your veganism? How long have you been vegan and why have you chosen to be vegan?
BC: It was a big shock in all areas! I came here to teach and train, I wasn’t vegan at the time (unfortunately).  I started as a vegetarian and feeling the progress in my life and training, the vegan tradition came along and now it’s been 2 years.

JK: MMA is a hyper-masculine world. Caring about animals and being vegan isn’t necessarily seen as “masculine” by the mainstream. How do your family, friends, teammates and competitors respond to your veganism? Have you experienced any misunderstanding, bullying or ridicule because of it?
BC: Well, there’s always lots of jokes and questions, but the results and my performance show them the reality! I really don’t care when they joke, I just love to prove them wrong.


JK: You captured the Middleweight Championship of World Freefight Challenge. What does your training regimen look like as far as food and exercise in order to be a champion?
BC: I love to train very hard, and as much as I possibly can every single day. That’s one reason I became vegan, because it gives me the advantage to recover faster and train harder! I train every day of the week, even on Sundays I do a complementary sesh! Diet wise, I eat lots of fruits, salads, veggies, shakes…. You love to eat too!

JK: I do love to eat too, but I don’t work out as much as you do! What issues do you care about the most, and how do you address them?
BC: I care the most about health and performance… But of course I’m an animal lover and having watched many vegan videos and movies, I just can’t be contributing to violence against animals. We must respect all kinds of life!


JK: Do you know any other vegan athletes? Do you guys ever talk and trade advice?
BC: Yes! My good friend Akira Corassanii in NY is a vegan fighter, and I always talk to other vegan and vegetarian athletes and check their FB pages for news.

JK: What is your signature move?
BC: I have good throws because of my judo background, and on the floor I always get omoplatas and triangles!


JK: You’ve traveled a lot for work. What are you favorite places you’ve been, and where is the best vegan food int he world?
BC: I loved Thailand, and Middle Eastern countries are very attractive too! Best vegan food? Hmmm, always at home!

AMC’s ‘Game of Arms’ features Rob Bigwood

Rob Bigwood, championship arm wrestler and vegan, is one of the subjects of the new AMC series Game of Arms, premiering in February of 2014. This is definitely going to be an awesome show to watch.

right, Rob Bigwood, official vegan badass

Day in the Life, MLB Grub, Rip Returns & Make You Beg

• Have you guys checked out the incredible athlete video-series by The Discerning Brute contributor and RD Matt Ruscigno called Day in the Life? If not, sit back and prepare to get inspired and charged. Here’s episode 5 featuring ultramarathoner Donovan Jenkins:

• There is a comprehensive new resource for Major League Baseball fans who are looking to get their grub on. The Venue Vegetarian Guide on lists all MLB teams and what their stadiums offer, from veggie dogs and black bean burgers to salads, guacamole and corn on the cob. Also check out Peta’s top-10 veg friendly ballparks!

• Powerhouse authors Rory Freedman  (Skinny Bitch, Skinny Bastard) and Texas firefighter, Rip Esselstyn (Engine 2 Diet) have some new must-read books out. Beg is a battle-cry with a cover to drool over (yes we’re judging) that jujitsu’s the fascination and love we already have for our best-friend cats and dogs to help all animals. My Beef With Meat is an essential read to give to your dad, your brother – and even that obnoxious uncle who’s always poking fun at your kale chips. There’s a firefighter on the cover, ok? Who’s gonna argue with that?
My Beef with Meat 

Vegan MMA fighter Diego Lopez Wins

photo: Diego Lopez, Fightland (Vice) for the article “MMA’s Golden Gloves” by Jimmy Jolliff

269265_10151623344521328_257996087_nWe’ve had our eye on rising MMA star and long-time vegan, Diego Lopez of the Williamsburg MMA Academy for a while now. Last week, Lopez won his fight at the “Kings of New York” MMA, Presented by Fighters’ Source. He walked out to Johnny Cash’s, “When the Man Comes Around“, and proceeded to win in the first-round with a wicked triangle choke. He is the first fighter featured in the video below, which recapped the night. Check it out, and also check out his pre-fight interview (in Spanish) with Telemundo NY 47 where he teaches the anchor to put him in a choke-hold. You can hear Lopez speak Wednesday April 3, 2013 at the Jivamktea Cafe in Union Square by RSVPing the event “Athletes and Plant-Based Nutrition” with headliner and TDB contributor Matt Ruscigno, RD. The panel of athletes will include Diego Lopez, Tracey Katof a pilates trainer and dancer, Erin Red Grayson a nak Muay fighter and instructor, and Zachary Koval, a fittness buff and PETA’s 2012 “Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door”.

Follow Lopez on Twitter: @diegolowpez

Protein Obsessed

by Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD

Protein is one of the most contentious issues of  plant-based diets, from flexitarians to raw vegans.  Much has been written on the subject and one can hardly mention veganism without the topic of protein entering the discussion.  I’ve no doubt added to these discussions over the years. In my professional life I’m often defending the protein-343x300_the-basic-four-food-groupsadequacy of vegan diets and ‘proving’ that it is possible to get all of the amino acids you need from plants. We know amino acids as the building blocks of protein: our bodies require the 9 essential amino acids to perform day-to-day functions in metabolism and muscle development. Protein is a nutrient and by definition a nutrient is a compound that our bodies require to survive. In other words, if we don’t get a nutrient and have a prolonged deficiency, we die. This is serious stuff.

Vegan nutrition expert and Registered Dietitian Jack Norris argues that we may not meet all of the amino acid needs easily and should be concerned about our lysine intake and vegan blogger and author of the Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide Sayward Rebhal recently wrote about a health issue that may have been related to inadequate protein intake.

So should we be concerned about protein or not? What’s the point here?

The point I’m trying to make is that this obsession over protein is dangerous – because it elevates one nutrient over the others. And there is a historical precedent for this. The first food recommendations in the United States, back when nutrition was a new science and the main function of the USDA was actually agriculture, protein was given superstar status with it’s own group. It makes sense, in some ways, because protein is the basis of all living things and one of the earliest studied nutrients. But over decades as the food square changed to a pyramid and then to a plate, the meat/protein group remains. It’s one of the few nutrients that gets its own group. What about choline? Why doesn’t choline have its own food group? It is a nutrient and as we’ve learned, if you don’t get enough of it you can die! But choline deficiency is extremely rare, you say. Well so is protein deficiency! I want my choline food group!

Wheat Germ has 202 mg Choline per cup. Get that pep, tired husband!

The difference is our national obsession over meat and animal products. We equate eating the flesh of an animal with power. It’s no coincidence that those who question our protein status also question our masculinity as vegans. Because it’s not really about protein, it’s about power and dominance. Protein is a meta-nutrient in that what it means and represents has become more important than what it actually does.

Protein is a meta-nutrient in that what it means and represents has become more important than what it actually does.

Discerning Brute Ed Bauer showing that he not only gets enough protein, 
but all nutrients.


This over-concern with protein has penetrated the plant-based movement. In the year 2013 we have a huge number of vegan athletes to point to as examples of how one can get their protein from plants and still kick ass in a variety of disciplines. But have you noticed how many of those vegan athletes either have their own protein powders or are promoting one? If we can get enough protein from plants, why do we need supplements? Is replicating the historical obsessiveness over protein a good idea? Or to constantly feel the need to prove our masculinity? Is this the world we want?

As a nutrition professional, athlete and someone who grew up with punk-rock DIY ethos, I say no, it’s not. With very few exceptions, we can get all of the amino acids we need from eating a variety of plant foods. Not just ‘protein foods’ but whole foods.  Now this isn’t a green light to not think about getting enough protein or how healthy your diet is. I’m just saying that protein isn’t any more important than the other nutrients we need to eat on a daily basis. We need to be conscious of our diets, but this needs to extend beyond protein.

If you’d like to read more about the science of plant protein please see my post on No Meat Athlete or this Vegetarian Resource Group article by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD. if you are interested in learning more about the needs of vegetarian athletes I highly recommend the book Vegetarian Sports Nutrition by Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, RD or see my documentary series, A Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes.