HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN VEGETARIAN? AND WHAT INSPIRED YOUR JOURNEY?
My first awareness of vegetarianism was 1969. Having won all of the contests on the east coast I moved from New York City to Los Angeles in July of that year and started training for the national contests under the coaching of three time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl at Bill Pearls gym in Pasadena. I had met Bill in New York at an exhibition he gave at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and was very impressed by him and his demeanor. Bill was a lacto – ovo vegetarian.
In 1972 at the age of 42 Bill began training for the Mr. Universe. Having followed the bodybuilding obsession with animal protein for my entire career I was amazed at Bill’s strength and gain in muscle. He won the Mr. Universe, for the fourth time.
Still afraid to mess with a winning formula (I had won Mr. Los Angeles in 1969, Mr. California in 1970, Mr. USA in 1972) I continued to eat meat until after the Mr. America in 1973, which I won. Between 1974 and 1985 I gradually eliminated all animal products except fish and cheese. Between 1985 and 1999 I weaned myself from both.
HAS VEGETARIAN ENHANCED YOUR HEALTH? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Prior to becoming vegan I suffered digestive problems all my life, mainly constipation. I started taking anti inflammatory medication in 1966 for my joints. At one point I was getting cortisone injections directly into both elbows every week. The arthritis kept me awake at night.
I would get 2-3 colds yearly and allergy attacks as often. Since becoming vegan all my health problems have completely disappeared.
Most miraculously, after wearing eyeglasses for 35 years my sight improved to where I only wear them on rare occasion for extremely small print. I no longer take any medication. I do take a weekly injection of Testosterone and vit B-12. My yearly checkups are perfect.
IN RETROSPECT, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MEAT? OR DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON AMERICA’S MEAT INDUSTRY?
I believe every creature is born with the inalienable right of freedom. Freedom to live in its natural environment, with its own kind, making its own decisions.
I believe the law should prohibit the enslavement of all non human species for any purpose whatever.
WAS THERE A COMMUNITY OF BLACK MEN THAT HELPED YOU ALONG YOUR MEATLESS JOURNEY? AND IF NOT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO CHANGE THIS FOR OTHERS?
I have not had the good fortune to experience the example or mentoring of black vegetarians or vegans, male or female … Although Bill Pearl is a full blooded Native American.
This is why I am so glad to have the opportunity to appear in your publication.