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Breaking Myths: This Is What Vegan Professional Boxer ‘Iċ-Ċoqqos’ Eats In A Day

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With veganism on the rise as the world strives to become more health and environment-conscious, there are common myths around the topic.

Many believe that you’re automatically weaker and protein deficient if you choose to not include meat in your diet.

But local vegan professional boxer Christian ‘Ic-Coqqos’ Schembri is here to break that myth and is the living proof that just because you’re vegan, doesn’t mean you can’t be strong. 

Lovin Malta spoke with Christian, to hear about his eating regime on an average day as a professional boxer, and his journey into the world of veganism.

In his element

In his element

“My eating regime varies depending on how close I would be to my next fight. I always follow my typical diet, however, if I am more than 5 weeks away from a fight, I would snack more and swap meals to my liking, as well as have some cheat meals,” Christian explained.

When a fight is not approaching in the near future, Christian’s diet on an average day looks more or less like this: 

Breakfast:

70g oats

30g sunflower and pumpkin seeds

15g maca powder

30g vegan protein powder

Meal 1: 

300g green vegetables (spinach/broccoli/green beans)

30g seeds

150g beans (chickpeas/black beans/red kidney beans, etc.)

1 tablespoon olive oil, seasoning, and Himalayan salt

Meal 2: 

Follows the same structure as Meal 1 outlined above, with different ingredients

Snack:

Banana

Vegan protein bar / 1 scoop protein powder

Dinner:

Plant-based protein substitute (Beyond Meat, Linda McCartney, etc.)

And a LOT of vegetables.

A typical lunch

A typical lunch

“Then if I’m still hungry, and I’m far away from a fight, I would snack on more seeds or an extra protein bar,” he said.

“If I’m close to a fight and need to stay close to my fighting or even lose more weight then I would snack on raw carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, or lettuce,” he explained. 

When it comes to the occasional cheat meal, his favourite foods to indulge in are pizza with vegan cheese, vegan plant-based burgers, vegan lasagna, and vegan cauliflower and broccoli cheese.

“My favourite foods which I could literally survive on are grilled vegetables with falafel, of which I could eat kilos after kilos and never get tired of doing it. I’m also a fan of chickpea with sundried tomatoes patties,” he said.

Grilled vegetables with falafel for dinner

Grilled vegetables with falafel for dinner

One common misconception of veganism is that one does not get enough protein or as much protein as a meat-eater would because many tend to link protein directly with meat.

Christian’s here to put an end to the idea that being a great athlete and keeping up a plant-based lifestyle are mutually exclusive. 

Being an athlete, protein is very important to him to ensure muscle recovery, but due to his type of sport, he does not need huge amounts like someone focused on building muscle would need.

“With that said, I still have a macro intake of around 140g, derived from a variety of sources like tofu, legumes, seeds, nuts, meat-free protein substitutes, vegan protein bars, and powders, and I make sure the intake is spread evenly throughout my day,” he explained.

“So yes vegans do get enough protein!” 

More typical dinner meals

More typical dinner meals

There was no doubt that Christian faced criticism and judgment when he decided to take up the vegan lifestyle, and to this day, he still has people suggesting to him that he needs to eat meat to get his protein intake.

“I have been vegan for four years and I used to be criticised a lot more in the beginning than I do now, as I feel there is a lot more knowledge now around the subject.”

“However, I regularly have people suggesting that I include animal products in my diet for a ‘better source of protein’, which I quickly rebut with a million scientific arguments and real-life elite athlete examples,” he said. 

The hardest to placate and the most that needed time to come around with accepting his decision were his father and grandmother, who at first could not wrap their heads around the concept of veganism.

“But after my dad started joining and helping in my daily training sessions (around three hours daily of moderate to high-intensity training), he realised that there is nothing wrong with being vegan and convinced my Nanna as well,” he said.

More of his meals

More of his meals

Christian’s vegan journey came about when he first watched the Netflix documentary ‘What The Health’, as it birthed concerns about the bad quality food that he was putting into his body, and the nature of mass production of meat.

“After switching to vegan, I started feeling a lot stronger and energised throughout my days and training, getting sick a lot less and performing a lot better in boxing,” he said. 

After doing more research into the topic, and watching more informative documentaries on industrial animal farming, Christian started to feel more empathy for animals that are born and bred just to be killed and processed for meat, for humanity’s enjoyment.

“Today I say that I am vegan more because of an ethical and environmental standpoint, the health benefits are a bonus,” he said. 

The professional boxer has made a name for himself defeating opponents in the ring, and is now breaking the myth that one cannot be strong and follow a vegan diet simulatenouesly.

Christian iċ-Ċoqqos Schembri is established as a renowned boxer in Malta and has previously beaten former Scottish Commonwealth boxing champion, Scott Dixon.

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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