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Vegan Weightlifter Competes in 2016 Olympics

Vegan Weightlifter Competes in 2016 Olympics

Kendrick Farris is the only men's weightlifter competing for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And Kendrick Farris is vegan.

At age 14, Farris knew that he wanted to be an Olympian, "but I didn’t know how hard it was to qualify," he said in an interview prior to the 2012 Olympics. "I honestly thought people made the team just because they represented a weight class. So when 2004 rolled around and I didn’t even qualify for the Olympic Trials that opened my eyes."

Today, Farris knows exactly what it takes to qualify for a spot on the Olympic team. Powered purely by plants, Farris lifted a total of 377 kg at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in May, 2016, setting a new American Record. From there, he went to the Pan American games in Cartagena, Colombia, where he earned the right to compete in his third Olympic Games, but this time he's competing as a vegan.

On December 28, 2014, Farris posted on his Facebook account, "I transitioned to a vegan diet about a month ago, an I'm happy to report my life has changed for the better I feel like a new person." In an interview with KTBS in his hometown of Shreveport, LA, Farris explained that the birth of his son was the catalyst for his new diet. "I really don't know what happened to me. My son was born ... in September, 2014, and something happened where I was like, I'm just seeing the whole thing. So I'm like, 'I need to do something different.' Like how do you get back to what is the most purest form of our life, our being? And I started with the food."

Farris told the Huffington Post that discovering his heritage, "Israelites from the lost tribes of Israel" — which led to an interest in the diet of the ancients, and his respect for animals are what first got him thinking about changing his eating style. But the final decision was rather sudden. Says his wife Katrina, "It was so random. I believe he sent me a text message ― when he’s at the gym, he always sends me these random things ― and I believe he said, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about going vegan,’ and so I was like LOL." She didn't think he'd stick with it because he was accustomed to eating plenty of meat. "But two years later," says Katrina, "I think it's made him better."

Farris would agree. He admits that he struggled with a bad temper while growing up. His fourth-grade teacher confirms that. "I always used to tell him," says Victoria Wade, "'If you channel that anger into something else, you will be awesome.’” And while Farris was able to successfully channel his negative feelings into something positive, it wasn't until switching to a vegan diet that Farris found his emotional balance. "My mind is extremely clear. I’m not easily flustered [now]. My attitude is totally different. ... now I’m able to recognize different emotions and I’m not governed by them. Doesn’t mean I don’t have them. I’m human. But I’m not easily moved."

Farris' weightlifting success demonstrates that handling his emotions isn't the only thing that a plant-based diet has done for the three-time Olympian. His qualifying lifts in May were not only record-setting, but also a personal best. In the following video taken during the Olympic Team Trials, we hear the commentators at the 00:55 mark recognizing not just Farris' strength, but the fact that his age isn't lessening his power. "Born in 1986, he's pushing 30 years old ... he just had the best lift of his life!" 

Farris' Olympic event, the men's 94kg weightlifting competition, is scheduled for Saturday, August 13.

For additional reading about another plant-powered Olympic athlete:

(1) From Engine 2 - Adventures with Ami: an Interview with Cam F Awesome -Boxer

(2) From Happy Herbivore - Herbie of the Week: Cam F. Awesome

Note: Awesome earned a spot on Team USA, but failed to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio.

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Photo Credit: Shreveport Times

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