Diego Lopez is an up-and-coming vegan MMA fighter who won his first bout against Martin Lecante at a Krush Promotions fight in Jackson NJ on June 1st. After three, 3-minute rounds the bantam weight Lopez won the fight by a rear naked choke. The Brooklyn-based fighter walked out to Johnny Cash's When the Man Comes Around in a Mishka-sponsored getup.
When asked about his vegan diet, Lopez expressed, "My body heals faster and I don't get as tired as the other guys get. Being vegan and an athlete, you have to be tougher. People are looking at you expecting you to fail or succumb to a lack of protein, so you have to push yourself hard and become an ambassador for vegan athletics and I always prove the skeptics wrong and strive to be at the top of my game. In fact, my instructor sees my veganism as a benefit. I'm always the first one to the gym and last one to leave, and it's only been positive."
Diego is part of a growing trend among fighters and high-performance athletes who are finding that a plant-powered diet is optimal for performance, endurance and recovery. Just today on UFC.com, Aaron Simpson is profiled specifically for his vegetarianism and stance on animal rights.
"The last thing I gave up [four years ago] was chicken because everyone kept saying that ‘as an athlete you need animal protein in you’ and all that stuff. We hardly had red meat around my house, so for three years I chicken was really the only meat I ate. Then one day I just woke up and said, ‘I don’t think I can eat chicken anymore.’ I had seen some documentaries and read some books about the way they are abused, the way they are bred and it disturbed me. So I moved away from that." - read the full interview on UFC.com.
For his meals, Lopez described his routine. "Breakfast would usually be oatmeal with hemp seeds, chia seeds, and fruit, whole wheat toast with jelly, and a Vega smoothie. Lunch is typically a whole wheat sandwich with almond butter, avocado and sauteed spinach - which is really good! Also a Vega protein shake. Dinner would often be a spinach and kale salad with cuckes, jicama and other veggies.
When asked about his future, he says, "I want to keep fighting more, and I'd love to go pro. I'd also love to teach and have my own gym eventually, train for a marathon or triathlon."