Interview with Ricardo Moreira:
Ricardo "Mad Dog" Moreira is a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter from San Francisco, California.
1) Since when have you been vegan and can you give us your height and weight?
Since 2006, so 3 years so far. I was lacto/ovo vegetarian for 5 years prior to the transition to veganism. I’m 5’7 [1,70m] and at the moment weigh in at 178 lbs [81kg].
2) How has veganism affected your performance? Does being vegan make it harder or easier to train and perform the way you do?
That all depends on how clean my diet is. If I’m being good, you know no vegan cupcakes or Purely Decadent soy ice cream, then I feel a lot more energetic on a vegan diet than I ever did when I was consuming animal products. On the other hand if my diet is full of junk the energy crashes and body fat gains are significantly worse.
3) What kind of foods do you usually eat? Could you list some things so we can kind of get an idea of what you eat?
Well the bulk of my diet is brown rice, beans, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, tofu, nuts, and vegetables. I tend to eat the wheat gluten based fake meats a couple times a week too. If I’m not worried about making a certain weight then I’ll indulge in the many awesome vegan treats out there (like soy ice cream).
4) I read you eat 5-6 decent sized meals a day. I'm sure some vegans can’t imagine eating that much. Does your hard training give you the appetite to eat bigger meals and more frequently?
I’ve always had a huge appetite, probably why I was obese as a kid. My training just adds to my naturally huge appetite, eating a ton of food isn’t a chore for me. People need a lot more calories than they would think, it just really depends on what foods you’re taking in and how nutrient dense they are. 3,000 calories from vegetable and whole grain sources aren’t the same as 3,000 from McDonald’s junk food…
5) Why did you become vegan? Did you have vegan friends or was that something you did by yourself?
The driving reason for going vegan is my martial arts training. I aspire to become the best martial artist I can possibly be, and that requires living my life by a code of ethics. In order to achieve self perfection one must have respect for all forms of life and that simply cannot be done without being vegan… Trace back to the origins of our modern day martial arts and you’ll find the shaolin monks who were strict vegetarians.
6) Just out of curiosity because we are from Chile, do you have family roots in Latin America?
Yes, although I was born in the states I have family in El Salvador and Honduras.
7) What supplements do you take?
I consume a vegan protein shake after most workouts, although there are definitely days where I forget to. I also take a multi vitamin and I have used creatine in the past.
8) I'm sure many people think "I'd like to be this really strong, muscular fighter." But you've really done it. How did and do you motivate yourself?
I simply fell in love with martial arts training as kid, and it’s been my life’s focus ever since. My goal has never been to be muscular or anything of the sort, being fit just happens to a bi product of training. I think the best motivation is finding a physical activity that someone really loves, combine that with a healthy diet and you’ll get some awesome results. I actually don't like to fight, but I love to teach. Professional fighting is simply a necessary step to take in order to improve my abilities as a teacher.
9) Probably most people are surprised to hear you don’t usually lift weights. Could you explain to us (who don’t know much about martial arts training) how you train?
Mixed Martial Arts training is all about variety, so everyday is different than the last. One day will be boxing and wrestling drills, the next will be muay thai and jiu jitsu. These workouts include heavy bag drills, focus pad work, shadow boxing, sparring, and sport specific conditioning exercises. The sessions typically run from 2 to 3 hours long and are intense at the professional level. Some fighters prefer to lift weights, but I pack on enough mass for my size with the amount of pull ups and push ups I do. Perhaps when I’m all done with my fight career I’ll pick up a dumbbell or two!
10) Would you like to say anything else? Is there anything martial arts has taught you for “real life”?