John Lewis Is The Bad Ass Vegan — Upending Stereotypes & The Impact of Positive Mindset on Destiny

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“No one else is responsible for your well being…take control of your own health.”

John Lewis


Beyond the chiseled arms and imposing six-foot six physique, the thing you notice most about this week’s guest is his smile — a smile the size of Texas that only hints at the even bigger heart within.

But John Lewis wasn’t always the exemplary model of health and advocacy he is today. Tipping the scales at 315 pounds by his freshman year in high school, things could have easily gone sideways for this young man growing up in Ferguson, Missouri.

But instead of drugs and gangs, he turned to sports, finding solace and refuge in basketball and football. Honing his skills in both high school and college helped him ditch his fat kid image and triggered his life-long love for healthy living.

Nonetheless, John began experiencing some serious, negative health issues despite maintaining an athletic nature post-college. He sought medical advice and was informed that excessive animal protein consumption just might be the culprit. That advice, combined with his mother’s colon cancer diagnosis, catalyzed an experiment with vegetarianism. Little did he know, that experiment would change his life.

In short shrift, ditching meat resolved his health issues. More importantly, the lifestyle aligned with his values. So it wasn’t long before John jettisoned all animal products from his plate and went entirely vegan.

Needless to say, this was an unlikely move for a football loving gym rat. His friends were not amused.

But John never felt better. The lights went on, opening him to an entirely new way of living and being that brought his life path into focus.

Today, John is an in-demand public speaker, personal trainer, and entrepreneur tirelessly spreading his his broad smile as the Bad Ass Vegan — busting traditional stereotypes as an entirely new breed of vegan evangelist with a unique ability to communicate and positively impact a wide diversity of people.

He has appeared on multiple television shows and been profiled in several magazines, including Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Fitness, Fitness Rx, Vegan Health & Fitness, Thrive, Origin, Maxim and even Sports Illustrated. You might have seen him flexing in all those P90X television ads that were ubiquitous a few years back.

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Beyond the nickname, Bad Ass Vegan is also John’s apparel and lifestyle brand — a health and nutrition company striving to upend traditional notions that surround what it means — and what it looks like — to be vegan by educating individuals on plant-based nutrition and more conscious living.

I first met John a couple years ago and always enjoy spending time with him at various lifestyle events — his energy is beyond infectious. So I’m proud to share his powerful, super uplifting message with you today.

This is a conversation about taking personal responsibility for ourselves, our well being, and our life paths. It’s about the impact of mindset on personal destiny. It’s about the power of community. And it’s a conversation about the power we all possess to positively transform ourselves and make a real difference in those we touch.

We cover a lot of ground in this conversation, including:

  • John’s early childhood & upbringing
  • reflecting on life in Ferguson
  • shifting focus from the NBA to an MBA
  • John’s experiment transitioning away from meat
  • body awareness & Kundalini energy
  • starting Bad Ass Vegan for community
  • ethical sensibilities & fashion forwardness
  • plant-based impact on recovery time & endurance
  • consumer demand & speaking with your dollars
  • hip hop-influenced documentary
  • taking health for granted
  • fanning the flames of positive change

I sincerely hope you enjoy our exchange.

Peace + Plants,

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Notable People Discussed

  • Tony Horton: American personal trainer, author, and former actor best known as the creator of the commercial home exercise regimen P90X
  • Lisa Lange: Senior VP of Communications, PETA
  • Lupe Fiasco: American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur
  • Waka Flocka: American rapper, hip hop artist, and entrepreneur
  • André 3000: American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and actor, best known for being part of hip hop duo Outkast
  • STIC: American rapper, activist and author known for his work as one half of the political hip-hop duo Dead Prez
  • Styles P: American rapper, author, and entrepreneur known as a member of hip hop group The LOX
  • M.I.A: British rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, director, visual artist, activist, photographer, fashion designer and model
  • Jermaine Dupri: American hip hop recording artist, record producer, songwriter and rapper
  • Usher: American singer, songwriter, dancer, and actor
  • Stevie Wonder: American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist
  • Common: American rapper, actor, film producer and poet from Chicago, Illinois
  • St. Lunatics: hip hop group consisting of Nelly, Ali, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, and City Spud
  • KRS-One: American rapper and producer from The Bronx, New York City, New York
  • Mike Rashid: American bodybuilder and YouTube personality

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Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, interstitial music and audio engineering; Chris Swan for production assistance & show notes; Shawn Patterson for graphics. Theme music by Ana Leimma.

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