Vegan Publishers welcomes Omowale Adewale as our blog contributor this week. Wale (“wah-lay”) is a champion vegan boxer, a former Jeet Kune Do fighter, a track and field collegiate gold medalist, and as a teen bodybuilder he was a finalist with the National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association (NABBA). Wale is a certified USA boxing coach and fitness trainer. For over 10 years, Wale has been addressing socio-economic issues and teaching disadvantaged youth through G.A.ME (Grassroots Artists MovEment), a New York City-based 501c3 not-for-profit organization supporting Hip-Hop and other artists, youth leadership and preventing youth incarceration, and developing a healthcare network while championing universal healthcare coverage for all.

After my presentation on the final day of the Seed Experience a couple of weeks back, a young man with his mentor came up to me and said he was going to become vegan. Although I was elated, I remained calm. That is what makes my work all worth it.

I was happy with my performance and interaction with the crowd; my slide show, volunteer abs challenge and my boxing demonstration with Najee, my young protégé, all went seamlessly for me. I was also happy that dozens of people came up to me after to say how much they appreciated my information on veganism and the exercises. Yet, it’s hearing young people ask for direction on a plant-based nutrition plan that motivates me even more to dig deeper into concerns, become more creative, and strive harder to make their transition to vegetarianism and veganism easier.

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Youth can make the transition to veganism faster than older men and women. They are incredibly open to new thoughts and ideas that create lifestyle changes. However, I am still leery of making the switch too challenging for them by introducing too many concepts. I make it a point to create the easiest solutions in health and fitness. Why complicate something already viewed as difficult? This is my main marketing tactic as a vegan.

During the week, I work with organizations that share a relationship with troubled youth. I also work with youth I find in my daily movement throughout the city. The hardest thing to do is instill discipline…in anyone. Navigating the discussion of heart disease, diabetes and cancer isn’t simple. Young people are not worried with those concerns just yet. So, I stress issues like power and speed to personal emotions chipping away at poor eating habits. Their response to what did you eat this morning is often, “egg, cheese and a ham/bacon sandwich.” This is often what I hear from the whole room. Nonetheless, my best lead-in to this discussion is, “I became vegetarian at age 15. Now I am a vegan.” The majority of these youth are 15.

In the branding world, especially the fast food industry, one of their methods in trapping and keeping consumers attracted and addicted to their products is making their foods easily accessible. If the consumer doesn’t want to stand on line waiting to place their order at a restaurant, there’s a drive-thru.

I offer youth veganism done easy. I try to transform the concept and the process. Since people think the process of becoming vegan is difficult, I provide ways that make the process attainable and even alluring. I show them healthy strong looking vegans, assertive vegans, intelligent vegans and happy vegans. Even if you don’t immediately become a vegetarian or vegan overnight, because of assumed difficulty, you’ll be convinced that there is a health plan that suits you perfectly. I also add that cancer, diabetes and heart disease are difficult to deal with. Death and depression are extremely tough.

My concept of making the process easier is not focused on the greed model. Unlike the Monsanto or McDonalds model where there is high risk of heart disease and cancers there is accountability to me, my community, the organizations, and the youth and their families. The simple focus of my plan is healthy eating and overall wellness.

If I make a positive impact on young people, it will always leave a lasting effect on me. I want to continue to be a visible role model, partly because it’s needed, but also because I enjoy what I do. I plan on teaching and being a resource for as long as I am physically and mentally capable.
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For more blogging on Omowale’s boxing and youth work visit omowaleboxing.blogspot.com. To learn about Wale’s personal training visit totalfitnesscp.blogspot.com. You can also find Wale on facebook.com/totalfitnesscp.