Quips From The Leaf Junkie: Ralph Go

Ralph Go

Ralph Go – Superfood Grocer Philippines‘ Superman aka Vegan Jiu Jitsu International Champion

I had the blessing of knowing Ralph back in 2011 in one of Asha‘s raw food workshops–and now, he and his partner, Carmela, are now KNL’s partners in promoting plant-based lifestyles. At the time, I found it extremely fascinating to find male vegans/vegetarians, particularly the athlete type. Curiosity getting the better of me, I asked for an interview and he was more than gracious and willing to oblige…

1)  What was your inspiration/reason for pursuing Jiu Jitsu as your craft? How did you get into it?

I started out doing Jiu Jitsu at the end of my first year in college, I was intrigued by the art of it as I saw its applications where the weak can defeat the strong. What I loved the most is the creativity involved, it is like a human chess match with endless moves and transitions. I started training a few times a week, but I was very passionate about learning and I wanted to be the best I can be so it ended up bringing me to compete all over the world, from Southeast Asia to Japan to Europe to Brazil and to USA. I ended up training with the very best in the world.

2)  As an athlete, what are the 3 most important things in life (in reference to what you do)?

As an athlete I think it is very important to be dedicated 100%, to work hard and to have an open mind. The people I see who succeed in the sport and in life are 100% dedicated. They take a leap of faith based on a burning desire in their hearts regardless of social implications.

Beet and Lentil SaladWhat Do Vegan Athlete’s Eat? Beet and lentil salad

Chia Pudding with Granola

Chia Pudding with Granola

3)  What inspired you to follow a vegan diet? How did it affect your overall performance?

I first heard about this lifestyle when I watched a UFC match on television where a fighter named John Fitch started talking about how he used it extremely well in his preparation. He recommended books to read such as “The Skinny Bastard” and “The China Study”. After reading these books I was upset how the meat/dairy industry has been destroying our health, our planet, contributes to poverty and tortures billions of animals a day.

All I could think about was my family’s health and how so much other people are suffering from diseases that should never happen because of this myth that we have to consume animals. The emotional stress this has caused is insurmountable, children losing their parents, people getting sick and being deemed normal by society because they are just “getting old”. Basically, I learned that we can take control of our lives, that we have the power to choose to live, we can bullet-proof ourselves from all these diseases. I then decided if I could just help one person realize that they have the choice to live a life disease-free with vibrant energy then I would commit to this.

Aside from this I learned of the implications a meat diet has on the rest of the world, each grain fed to animals to satisfy our cravings “because we like the taste” could have been fed to a hungry child. Arable land being used for raising animals to keep up with world consumption could have been used to build homes or plant crops to feed more people. We definitely have enough food in the world to feed everyone but people are still going hungry. There is something seriously wrong with this picture here. We have one planet to feed everyone but it’s not enough to feed everyone’s hunger. This industry and lifestyle is not sustainable and I can never support it ever again.

Anyway, at first I was still eating fish and drinking whey protein when I started out trying to be a vegetarian. A lot of my training coaches and partners said that it would be dangerous to take away these two or go completely vegan. However, I was inspired by people such as Brendan Brazier and his book Thrive which particularly explains how eating a whole food plant based diet can boost performance. I would say this diet won’t make you a stronger or faster athlete. But it will make your recovery much faster thus being able to train much more than others. You also won’t have to worry about getting sick EVER, I used to get sick for a week just eating a few slices of pizza. I was sick every month. I had to take so much vitamins around 20-25 pills a day to maintain my health when I am training with high volume. But when I realize what makes people sick I dropped all these expensive vitamins and I haven’t been sick ever since. I’ve never skipped a day of training because I was sick anymore.

4)  I understand you’re also trying out raw vegan food. Did this enhance your performance more than the standard vegan diet?

Yes, I incorporate raw foods in my diet whenever I can, I take at least one green smoothie and a salad daily. I definitely agree that raw food is extremely beneficial to athletic performance because we don’t need to expend our energy to digest the food. This energy could be used to repairing our muscles thus improving our recovery, because of this I think raw foods has a direct benefit on performance.

5)  Did your co-athletes question/made fun of your eating habits? What do you normally say when they do?

Yes, a lot of co-athletes questioned me as it is definitely against the norm. I try to explain the benefits some are more eager to listen some are not. I just try to train hard because actions speak louder than words.

6)  In your experience as an athlete, what would be the most rewarding thing that ever occurred to you?

As an athlete, it would be traveling all the over the world, meeting new friends, experiencing different cultures and training with the best in the world. Also seeing that somehow my effort could inspire the younger generations or open the doors that there can be world champions here in the Philippines, that we compete with the best, and that the knowledge available here is up to standard with the very best.


Buckwheat pancakes and green smoothie

7)  What are your favorite vegan dishes?

My favorite vegan dishes are definitely chickpeas, lentils and beans.

I really like Brazilian-style beans or Indian-style cooked chickpeas. I also like raw vegan desserts like cakes and ice cream that are so good taste wise and healthy for you.

8)  Any guilty pleasures? Do you miss anything that is not vegan (food-wise)?

No, not really, I guess if you turn vegan you need to have an underlying reason. If your reason is shallow then it will be hard to stick by it. When I see something that has caused so much pain and suffering on your plate I prefer not to have it if I have the choice.

Also a lot of people believe that they can’t kick the taste out. Like, they just need to have a steak. It’s basically the microbes in our digestive tract wanting that. Basically 80% of our body is actually not our own. Maybe 1 trillion human cells are outnumbered by 9 trillion healthy bacteria in our body. If we continue to feed it junk or meat it will want junk food or meat. But when we start feeding it healthy food then that’s what they will crave.


9)  Who/what was your support system in keeping yourself on track in the veggie caravan? I understand you travel a lot whenever you are training and competing, how do you make being vegan possible?

I did not have anyone to support me or tell me what I was doing was right in the beginning. I was committed to an idea and when people saw how I was committed they take consideration whenever we eat out if there was a veg friendly option. My girlfriend also supports me a lot, we basically eat in all the vegan restaurants and make vegetarian food at home.

Yes, I travel a lot but basically you can find veg options everywhere you go anyway. Some are healthier some are not. I try to get a specific amount of food in daily because depending on my goals for example sometimes I need to gain 5 kilos or sometimes I need to lose 8 kilos. Getting quality food in a specific desired quantity is challenging sometimes. I think that there are more vegan options and restaurants overseas so that makes it a lot easier.

10)  Do you bring any vegan must haves in your bag whenever traveling? If yes, what are the three to five things you never leave home without?

Yes, well right now I can’t leave home without a blender. I like to always have some maca powder with me. I love maca, it helps me recover faster from training and sleep so much better. I also like having some rice protein powder around if I can’t find anything good to eat where I’m going.

Ralph Go in Competition

11)  What is your message to inspiring athletes who would like to follow your footsteps?

Dedicate 100%, take a leap of faith and follow your dreams. If you love what you do and work hard you will be successful no matter what you do. Question why things are done and is it for the good of all. I wish someone would have told me that when I was younger.

12)  How do you like to be remembered?

Someone committed and compassionate.

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