Vegan athletes are knocking down the myth that they need animal protein to build muscle mass and to achieve optimal condition. With many at the top of their game, it is no surprise that famous athletes are using their platforms to bolster their vegan lifestyle. Cam Awesome is one of them. He is an outspoken vegan who is not interested in living in a box created by society.
He is also a man of many talents. Along with being a well-known youth speaker and personality, he is also an Emmy Nominated, 6-time USA National Champion, 4-time Golden Gloves National Champion, 2-time Olympic Trials Champion Heavyweight Boxer, and former Captain of the USA National Boxing Team.
With credentials like these, we were curious to know if he credits his success to his vegan lifestyle.
So, we asked him.
What would you say your greatest accomplishments are and why?
My greatest accomplishment would be my ability to maintain freedom from a conventional lifestyle. I value the lifestyle of freedom over one of financial stability.
You are well-known for being a vegan athlete. When did you make the switch to veganism and why?
I made the switch in 2012. I lost a bet and had to do the Engine2 28-day challenge diet. It was a tough 28 days, but it forced me to show discipline and I enjoyed that. I also learned about nutrition and all the misinformation out there.
I decided to continue after the 28 days because I felt amazing, but I had no interest in ever becoming vegan because I heard that vegans are weird people. My goal was just to keep it going for a little bit longer. And I was pleasantly surprised when I began meeting some amazing people in the vegan world. It has been 7+ years. I would have never made the switch or stayed with it had it not been for a couple of my favorite humans ever, Bill and Ami Mackey.
Do you think veganism has helped your performance as a boxer? If so, how?
It has. It has made me conscious of my body. I’ve learned the difference between nutritional want vs. nutritional need. It has allowed me to control my weight and make weight with ease. My recovery was the biggest factor that kept me living this lifestyle.
Do you take any supplements to ensure your vegan diet does not lack any necessary nutrients (i.e. omega-3, B-12, etc.)?
When I do take supplements, which is rarely, I’ll only use Garden of Life products. I do take omega-3s, B12, and vitamin D on a regular basis. You can receive all the nutrients from a whole-food, plant-based diet.
Tell us about your journey traveling the US as a public speaker. What led you to make this career move? Why is this important to you?
My coach would have me take over the gym classes around the boxing gym once a semester. I would teach students a couple of boxing techniques and invite them down to our free boxing gym. My coach is very passionate about keeping the youth busy since idle hands are tools of the devil. Instead of carrying gloves in and out of the school, I realized I could save time by speaking for 45 minutes straight. I quickly realized that students aren’t interested in anything you have to say if you can’t keep them engaged.
As an experienced, standup comic. I began writing clean jokes on topics that the school administration would appreciate, but in a format that is palatable for students. I realized that I had a gift of relating to teens because I’m a large child with adult-like resources. After boxing, I decided to pursue this full-time. I decided to purchase a van to travel the country speaking in schools, emceeing Vegan Festivals, and performing standup.
Has it been hard to maintain your vegan lifestyle while traveling around the US? Any tips for someone wanting to do the same?
It isn’t as hard as it is time consuming, at first. I had to learn how to plan ahead for meals and make my own meals. Healthy food isn’t expensive, fast food is just cheap. Happy Cow is an amazing app! Essentially, it’s like Tinder for vegan food.
My tip for athletes is to objectively separate themselves from tradition. Tradition is why many boxers have a backwards view of nutrition. You will hear phrases from old boxing coaches like, “Don’t drink too much water” and “Women make you weak”. Those old boxing coaches heard it from their old boxing coaches. Tradition stunts growth. Sports Science has disproven many, old wives tales. I urge athletes to look into the data of a plant-based lifestyle as it pertains to performance. And don’t forget – vegan doesn’t mean healthy, plant-based does.
What’s coming for you next? Any goal or challenge you’d like to pursue next?
My next goal is releasing a “Dream Keepers” course. It’s a course that teaches athletes, aspiring actors, struggling musicians, broke comics, and public figures on how to build a speaking business to keep themselves afloat financially while chasing their dreams. If you haven’t put everything into a dream, you wouldn’t understand the things a person would do to keep that dream alive. I want to offer people a way to make great money on their own schedule, so it doesn’t interfere with their dreams.
As a boxer on the USA National Boxing Team, I made $1000 a month. That’s below the poverty level for a single adult. After rent, car payment, car insurance, and a cell phone bill, good luck finding food. I know how easy it is to rationalize the participation in destructive behaviors to keep a dream alive. I want to give dream chasers, like myself, a way to generate an income to live comfortably while pursuing their dreams.
Any final thoughts/words that you would like to add?
I would just like to say that I had such a negative perception of the word “vegan”. I didn’t know any vegans, but I judged them based off what I had heard. When I took a step back to analyze what was really going on, I realized that I’ve heard more people talk about how often vegans talk about being vegan than I’ve heard vegans actually talk about being vegan.
I would also like to urge other to look into sustainability. My buddy Brendan Fitzgerald and his lady, Carly Bergman, are the “Sustainable Duo”. They offer simple, but effective, life-hacks to live a more environmentally, conscious life. They can be found on Instagram @sustainableduo.
As Cam travels the US, the message he speaks is universal. For him, boxing is the greatest metaphor for life because everyone is fighting their own personal battles.
He knows these battles all too well. He has had his fair share of failures but throwing in the towel has never been an option for him. Instead, he has changed his perspective and is using his failures as stepping stones towards success. The resilience Cam has shown throughout his career is credited to his consistency, perseverance, and hard work.
Thanks for the interview, Cam. We think you are pretty awesome.