Full transcript of bodybuilder Joshua Knox’s TEDx Talk: A Vegan Bodybuilding Experiment at TEDxFremont Conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: A vegan bodybuilding experiment by Joshua Knox at TEDxFremont
So as he said I am Josh. I grew up in a family of meat and potatoes. I had a gourmet chef grandmother, a deli daycare where I would be dropped off everyday eating amazing food.
So if you take a look at my family background, it’s not really surprising. So on my mom’s side, they grew up in Argentina, this is the place where you have a lot of dairy farmers including my family. You add to that my dad’s side of the family, Fort Worth Texas born and raised, myself as well. This is a place where you literally still have cattle drives through the middle of town.
So you put those two together and what do you get? Not surprisingly, pretty much every meal that I ate was a giant pile of meat. At one point in my life I really would literally brag, that I ate steak, every day, for 40 days. And I thought that it was an accomplishment.
So it all changed, on a very fateful trip. I like going up to lake Tahoe, one of my favorite things to do. This is a trip that normally takes 4 or 5 hours. We got stuck in a really bad snowstorm, so about 10 hours into what should be a 4-5 hour trip. We are all really stir crazy in the car, and we are having lots of crazy conversations. At one point we were making animal noises to keep ourselves entertained.
We got the car turned off, everyone was basically sleeping in their car. And we got on the subject of nutrition. So a very good friend of mine up in the back of the audience, Brian Robin, was really the man with a plan. He started talking about a plant-based diet, and you had a car full of extremely skeptical people, myself included, we had you know, four other people in the car besides Brian, we are peppering him with questions, saying there’s no way this is possible, there’s no way you can be healthy.
You know coming from my perspective, you know all I really knew, I learned a lot about cooking from my grandmother and I really enjoyed cooking, I enjoyed cooking for my friends, but the foundation of everything that I would cook was really meat. And so I may make a side dish, but it’s a side dish it’s a second thought.
So, after this long conversation with Brian, I think he did a very good job of inspiring the rest of the group. So those four others of us in the car, all decided to go seven days, no meat whatsoever. So we were all a little bit of a support group in each other, challenging each other to try seven days no meat. I think if you were to ask those who knew me at all, they would say: “Josh, going seven days, with no meat?” Not only no meat, but no animal products whatsoever. They’d have told you that it’s absolutely impossible.
And so after the seven days, day 8, the first thing I did a) was, I ate a giant pile of pulled pork, and then b) I sort of reflected, it was actually very easy for me to go seven days with no meat, no animal products whatsoever. And I took a look at my own family history. I have two grandfathers who had quadruple heart bypasses, not very surprising given what I have been talking about my family history. I have a grandmother who passed away from diabetes, I have lots of cancer in my family.
And so all these things together, really said well maybe I can try 30 days, and so 30 days quickly turned into more than a year and a half, on a purely plant based diet. And so I didn’t go into it lightly. When I took a look at my own situation, I spent 10 or 12 years really building my body. I really enjoyed physical fitness, I really enjoyed bodybuilding, and I had a major concern that I would waste away, I would be skinny and sickly, and all this work that I put in would just completely disappear.
So after more than two and a half years now, of doing not only plant-based but then maybe mostly vegetarian, totally a non issue. I actually found that not only was I able to continue increasing my strength and my performance, but also saw massive gains in endurance as well.
So the other big concern, one of my favorite things to do is to eat. It’s one of my favorite ways to interact socially. And so I was concerned that this is going to be a very difficult thing for me to do. It’s going be a battle, day in, day out resisting things. So for me it was much less about what I was giving up and much more about what I was actually coming to learn.
So rather than feeling I got missing out on foods, I really felt that I was opening my mind to so many different things that I would have never put on my plate. I haven’t been focused still on that giant pile of meat.
The results: unfortunately I didn’t get younger or taller as a result of this experiment. I did precipitously drop my cholesterol, and this is a level that maybe some people wouldn’t say that was extremely dangerous, but pretty high level of cholesterol, that cholesterol drop happened extremely quickly as did the weight drop. I didn’t think I had 35 pounds to lose. But I lost 35 pounds, I dropped my cholesterol precipitously, noticed massive improvements in: my performance, my ability to function in my work and in my job. Some mental improvements, as well as physical improvements.