It's safe to say there's not many people on planet earth that embody the Plant-Based Gangster ethos more than Bryant “B.Y.” Jennings. Standing 6 foot 3 inches and weighing 225 pounds, this human specimen has done things that most would consider unattainable. In 2009 at 24 years old, Jennings stepped foot into a boxing gym for the first time. To put that in perspective, Mike Tyson would have been boxing for 11 years at that age. Within 30 days of throwing his first punch, Jennings was taking on amateur fights. Five months later he was already blazing through the Golden Gloves. And by 2015, a mere 5 1/2 years after walking into that boxing gym as a newcomer, Jennings was fighting for the World Heavyweight Title. Is that real life?! It’s so gangster it almost sounds made up. And the icing on the cake? Word on the street is that Jennings has mad skills in football and basketball, being scouted in high school by top colleges such as Michigan St, Michigan, Syracuse and Iowa St. And on top of that he spits rhymes on the side.
We know what you’re thinking: multi-sport athlete and rapper — there’s no way this human prototype could possibly be vegan. Well think again. Bryant Jennings throws a vicious counterpunch at every vegan stereotype, and then follows it up with a lights-out haymaker.
Jennings has been a conscious eater since he can remember, but his road to veganism didn’t happen overnight. Growing up in Philly he dabbled in vegetarian meals as a young adult but wasn’t strictly adherent. Like most athletes of this generation he was fighting the myth that meat is necessary for peak performance. In 2013 he finally took the leap as a full-time vegetarian, still consuming dairy and eggs, but cutting out meat entirely. For two years prior to his World Heavyweight Title match against Wladimir Klitschko in April of 2015, Jennings hadn’t consumed a single ounce of animal flesh. While Klitschko ended up victorious after the 12-round battle, he also admitted that it was one of the toughest fights of his boxing career. If that kind of sentiment on the heavyweight title stage isn’t shattering vegan stereotypes, then we don’t what is.
Fast-forward to August of that same year, Jennings cut out eggs and dairy to go all-in vegan. A decision, according to him, that altered the course of his life and career. But this isn’t some bullshit claim perpetuated by exaggerations. Jennings openly admits that his performance in the ring didn’t skyrocket on a dime after he went vegan. He was already a conscious eater, a beast in the gym, with a commitment to his craft. What really struck Jennings was the sudden increase in mental clarity.
“If your brain operates correctly, then you're able to do a whole lot more. You're able to process things quicker. You're able to think outside the box with a lot of things, " notes Jennings. "Most people look for their diet to just alter their physical performance. But when your brain is performing at its peak, that is controlling your entire body. Just because I went vegan I suddenly fell in love with running and now I'm in this incredible shape? Nope. I've always been a hard worker. I've always been in great physical shape. But unlike those other fad diets out there, veganism sets its sights long-term. Nothing that is worthwhile works overnight. You will not wake up with abs just because you went vegan. While a six-pack is always attainable, this vegan thing is about longevity."
Jenning’s plant-based journey doesn’t stop there. He’s also founded a boxing movement in Philadelphia called ELITE KLASS, where “ELITE” stands for Elevating Life Internationally Through Entertainment. While it’s not a requirement to be vegan, every member coincidentally is.
Says Jennings, “It’s just a way of life, man. Once you’re exposed to the truth your decision is already made. If you’re an elite individual and you educate yourself in nutrition, by default you become vegan.”
That brings us to 2018. Bryant Jennings is one of the featured vegan athletes in this summer’s sure-fire, paradox-shifting documentary The Game Changers. Executive produced by James Cameron and directed by Louis Psihoyos, The Game Changers tells the story of James Wilks — elite special forces trainer and winner of The Ultimate Fighter — as he travels the world on a quest for the truth behind the world's most dangerous myth: that meat is necessary for protein, strength and optimal health. Meeting elite athletes, special ops soldiers, visionary scientists, cultural icons, and everyday heroes, what Wilks discovers permanently changes his relationship with food and his definition of true strength. Long story short, we can't wait for this to drop. Vegan, paleo, keto, it doesn't matter. Put this one on your radar.
At 33 years young, this Plant-Based Gangster doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. And he’s creating a legacy, raising his 9-year-old son as a vegan as well. We're super pumped to see what the future holds for Bryant Jennings — and for him to prove this vegan longevity thing is the real-deal, just like his ferocious right hook.
Disclaimer: This is an editorial piece. It does not imply that the person or persons mentioned in this story have any affiliation with BLOK. We're just showing love to our favorite plant enthusiasts across the globe.
Photo Credit: TRAPPFOTOS