Where are you from and where do you live? How old are you?
I am From Kansas City, Missouri in the United States and I’m 38 years old.
Can you tell a little about how you went vegan? What made you consider it, how did you transition, and did you notice anything different afterward?
I first went vegetarian back in 2010 more as a challenge to myself. I was aware of the ethical problems of eating meat and got more educated as i eliminated it from my diet.
I went full vegan in 2016 and haven’t looked back.
I am a mma fighter and fitness enthusiast and I am experiencing hogher levels of energy, shorter recovery times and over all ease of maintaining my body and mind.
There were many things that helped me decide to go vegan. I spent a good amount of time getting educated on many of the ethical issues. I also learned more about other fighters and athletes that were vegan and were able to compete at the highest levels. Over all I thought that I could be a better human being and It’s been rewarding in so many ways.
What has been the hardest and easiest things as a vegan? Did something surprise you?
The most frustrating thing about being vegan is when I want to have a sweet snack I usually learn that MOST food items have unnecessarily added some animal products. Its disappointing to know that food companies can make just about anything without animal products but they choose not to.
I live in the midwest USA and any of my nonconventional dietary habits have always been questioned. People usually share that they want to eat healthier but cant give up meat. When I started out I was dating a woman who would constantly tell me that she would slaughter a cow. Well, she saw what I could achieve on a vegan diet and didn’t make those remarks often afterward. My family wanted to learn more and they regularly ask me for meal ideas and recipes. I have lost friends and I’ve gain friends all because I made a decision to think more deeply about what i consume and how my actions impact my health, the environment and the creatures we share the earth with. I get it too. For many people they have to be in a specific place in their journey to think and behave in a way that takes all of those things into account. I try to encourage people as often as I can and offer help when they are ready to recieve it.
How did you get in contact with combat sports and what was your experience with training or exercise before that?
I grew up fascinated with the martial arts and but wasnt able to take formal lessons until I was 17. Before that I took part in track and field. To this day running is central to my conditioning as a form of meditation.
I began competing in martial arts at 18 and absolutely loved it! My journey has had some bumps but I fully committed to combat sports in 2015 and have since earned 4 amateur titles.
I currently am training lots of Jujitsu, Kickboxing, traditional boxing, and catch wrestling. I originally started with Okinawan karate and competed in tournaments. From there I was exposed to judo, Jujitsu, and a little kung fu. I was always encouraged to remain a student. My original instructor would being in other instructors or take us to other schools and help us learn how to learn. I think what keeps me fresh is always learning something new and adding it to my toolbox. I watch a ton of videos of fights,skills breakdowns and tutorials.
What’s your training like today? Are you training for any specific goal at the moment?
These days my training is mapped out and is specific to my sport. I lift heavy for strength and I do HIIT training. Six days a week I am training kickboxing, Jujitsu and wrestling. I also dedicate time to train my mentaland emotional states. I believe that in order to achieve greatness, we should be aware of our internal environment as much as if not more than our external environment.
Right now I am finishing camp for a fight which will takes place on August 2nd. This will be my second pro fight and I am excited to perform.
My training remains fairly consistent. I spend anywhere from 4-6 hours a day training and exercising. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays are usually my full body resistance training days with emphasis on different functional movement. Tuesdays and Thursdays I usually do HIIT routines. I run almost everyday as a form of meditation and mental training. For martial arts training: Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings I train kickboxing and MMA. Sessions are up to 2 hours. Tuesdays and Thursday mornings I train footwork and striking drills. Tuesday and Thursday evenings I train jujitsu. Saturdays I spend most of the day sparring. Sundays I reserve as a recovery day. I will mainly stay home but sometimes I’ll take my dogs to the park and let them play while I enjoy they weather.
Mental and Emotional Preparation.
This is the most important thing I do. Back in 2016 I allowed myself to get overwhelmed with anxiety about fighting,finances, relationship challenges, everything. My mental and emotional energy was spent worrying and left me wiped out. During my first amateur title fight it all hit me at once and took me completely out of the fight. I only realized that I could win the fight during the second round, which surprised me. Instead of committing to the game plan I found myself rushing to “win” the fight which led to me making mistakes and soon losing. I left that fight so angry with myself but I knew I needed to change my approach. I started to read self help books and books on sports psychology only to be disappointed that those authors didn’t really know what they were talking about. Then I found some books that were exactly what I was looking for. I First found Carol Dweck’s book on mindset, then I found Steven Kotlers books, The Rise of Supermen and Stealing Fire. Carol’s book is a report on a 20+ year study on how mindset affects people’s perspectives and outcomes. Steven Kotler’s books are about the mental state called flow but it now being called transient hypofrontalism. Without going into a ton of detail, I learned that there are exercises I can do to create a mental state of hyper focus that helps me to learn and perform at the top of my abilities. These exercises also help me turn down negative emotions and turn up positive emotions and confidence. I use a series of breathing and meditation techniques before and after my training and competition to achieve these states and I’ve had only positive results. The science behind how all of it works is beginning to mature and I’m excited to see what else I are able to achieve because of how I prepare myself.
What do you do when youre not lifting training hard and eating yummy vegan grub?
I am always learning something new. When I’m not training I study everything from history, human behavior, neurology, and of course martial arts.
I also host an internet radio show called All Muscle No Meat where I discuss with guests how to be a great vegan athlete. My show airs sundays on The 5ive xl radio network and I archive my episodes on my website at legendaryblacklion.com
Do you have any favorite vegan recipes? Or any cuisine you like to get inspiration from?
One of my favorite dishes is a texmex dip. I think I imprvised it from another recipe but its now become a staple. • Half bag of gardien beefless crumble • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes • 1 can of black beans • season with chipotle powder, onion powder and smokes sea salt.
Warm in a pot until it simmers and then serve with tortilla chips.
What do you eat on a typical day? Do you use any supplements?
On a typical day I will have: Morning smoothie with fruits and vegetables.
Since I do intermittent fasting I won’t have a solid meal until about 1 or 2pm
I’ll have oatmeal with peanut butter, dried fruit and fresh bananas. My final meal of the day is usually something i prepared for the week. I regularly rotate sweet potato burritos, curry cabbage, veggie stir fry with rice or noodles, and on occasion I’ll have some tofu. The supplements I am the most excited about are adaptagens. They help with focus and mental energy. Things like Rhodiola, eleuthero and Schizandra berry all keep me fresh and focused while training and competing. I will from time to time have a protein supplement but it’s more for controlling my calorie intake than anything else. I don’t take other sport supplements because I put on mass easily and I don’t want to struggle with weight management when I’m preparing for a fight.
What else could be interesting to Athlegan’s readers?
I won my fight last week and I got a ton of compliments once people learned that I am a vegan athlete. They can’t believe that I look and perform the way I do because they have only seen 1 type of vegan. I show them that we are a diverse group who are growing and are achieving great things in the world. Vegans in the US are only about 3% of the population but we are getting a ton of attention. Vegan athletes are showing the world that we can not only compete and achieve at elite levels but we do so while purposefully being conscious of our impact on the world around us. Our efforts bring attention to animal cruelty, issues of food and land justice as well as health an environmental concerns. I hope to encourage everyone I come in contact with to consider how their actions impact their world. I know there are activists out there doing protests and showing the horrors of slaughter houses and there is a place for that. My form of activism is bringing awareness of what the individual in front of me can do for themselves and that it is great for the world at the same time.
https://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Damiyahn-Smith-192779 4 wins, 1 loss
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_RTykKs4KY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J11Z4vcGv0E https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhABWqpeECc