Not Your Typical Meathead
Kenneth Williams, Americaís first vegan bodybuilder talks about lifestyle, diet, and the path that opened his eyes.
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August 16, 2005
The sun poured down on a Saturday
afternoon, when I noticed a well-built man with a million dollar smile
posing for a photo with two young girls.
Is that him? The girls are wearing Vegan
Muscle Power T-shirts. Heís only been in
New York for 12 hours, and he has groupies?
But thatís Kenneth. Some people take
over a room, Ken can take over a city. This
was only the beginning of a whirlwind
day that would have a camera crew following Kenneth for the vegan documentary response to Supersize Me, tentatively
titled Veganize Me. Before the day was
over, Bernadette Peters would strike up a
random conversation with Kenneth in Riverside Park, PETAís Veg Kids would stop by
for questions, and I would be questioning
my own lifestyle more than expected. If
he could place first in his division in the
Natural Olympia, could I ever claim that the vegan lifestyle was too physically de-
manding for me to maintain?
HLNYC: So it seems like youíre getting
pretty used to the cameras already.
Yeah, Iím doing Undercover TV, so Iíve
been getting used to reading off the teleprompters and doing lots of interviews.
HLNYC: Whatís Undercover TV all
about? Is that just in California?
Itís actually out here too. Itís all over. In
fact, if itís not in your area, you can call
In Defense of Animals or go to IDAUSA.
org and request to have it on. What I do
is speak about all the atrocities that happen on factory farms. I set up the footage
viewers are about to see. It comes on late
at night, because it does get graphic, and
if you do have kids, itís not really geared
for them. Itís good to get them the message, but...thatís why I really started do-
ing CHOICE. Do something for the
adults and something for the kids.
HLNYC: How do you reach the kids?
I just got involved with a program
called CHOICE (Citizens for Healthy
Options in Childrenís Education). It
started in New York, and weíre just
now getting started in the Bay Area,
so Iím going to help spearhead the
program out there. Itís all about putting plant-based meals in schools
across the country. This awareness
has got to start somewhere, and Iím
so happy to be involved with CHOICE,
because it taps into the youth. And if
I can do anything to get the youth to
understand that you donít have to do
all these harmful things to your body
to become this superhero.
HLNYC: Short of fighting crime, how
can kids become superheroes?
Well, the real superheroes are from
the Earth. So if you eat healthy, stay
in school, prayówhoever youíre praying to, and stay positiveókeep a positive
mental attitude through the whole thing.
There are going be some people, whether youíre vegan or not, that are going to
knock you down. Thatís why I want to help
them become mentally strong. because
thatís where itís atóno fear, no more being scaredóthen youíre a superhero.
HLNYC: So Undercover TV has opened
you up to a whole new world. What
have you learned in your time hosting
It opened my eyes because I never knew
what was going on. I had never been to
a factory farm; Iíd never been on a farm
before. I just recently started to go now,
because as a vegan my curiosity is awakened. I just went to the store before and
would buy a piece of chicken, and never
thought, ĎWell, where did this come from?í
I was not taught to think like that. So
Undercover TV really opened my eyes to
all the atrocities that are taking place, on
farms, with the seals, with cats, and dogs. I
see all that stuff. Iím like this walking dictionary now, of all this stuff in my head.
And my wife, she was already like that, but
she never really talked to me about it, because she thought that Iíd be saying hush,
hush, hush all the time. But now sheís telling me to hush, because Iím always talking
HLNYC: Now that you know whatís going on behind the scenes, how can we
get it to stop?
Well, even though I know that my wife
agrees with my perspective, we still discuss it in a very pleasant way. Thatís the
only way to get these problems to stop.
Bring it to the people and let them make
up their own mind. Donít force it on
themójust let them make up there own
mind about whether they still want to eat
meat. Because itís not the meat, itís what
theyíre doing to the meat thatís making
people sick. If you were to kill a healthy
cow, like back in the day, that would be
okay. Now, itís about money. Thatís what
factory farming is about. And theyíre using all these harmful steroids and toxins,
all these things to make that cow 20 times
bigger. When I was a kid, my mom would
go to the store and get a chicken, and it
would be this little piece of chicken. You
go to a store now, boy, and itís like a prehistoric chicken. Its wings are the size of
the damn table. Like a damn Pterodactyl!
So now to get this to stop, we need people to understand what theyíre putting in
their bodies, because theyíre getting sick,
and making the doctors rich, because of
their ignorance. And being ignorant is not
a bad thing, itís just that if you know something, you have to do something about it.
And if you donít do
something about it
then, thatís ignorance.
HLNYC: Do you feel
like the movement
is picking up steam?
Are we at a point
where education to
the masses can happen? Where people
do have that choice?
Some people do have
a choice because
theyíre at a certain level where their money
allows them to live a
certain lifestyle. But
what about the little
people that donít have
any money? Theyíre
the people that donít
have the educationó
they donít know anything about being a
vegan. And vegan is
an old word. That goes
back to biblical times.
We were all vegans
back then, Jesus, Mosesóand they were
bigó20 times bigger
When you see paintings of the Greek gods,
these guys were humongous. They were
bigger than Shaq, because they were eating great! At the time,
that was the capital of learning where
Socrates studied, where Ulysses trained.
But these guys that we worship, they
didnít even graduate, because the people
teaching them had the wrong information. And eventually, it all fell. Now, weíre
teaching the wrong standards again, and
if we donít stop doing what weíre doing,
this is all going to fall. So we need to make
a statement, and there are a lot of people
that are ready to make the paradigm shift.
HLNYC: And what do you see that shift
Well, pretty soon people are going to be
forced to eat like this, for health reasons.
And I donít think thatís fair. I donít think it
should be forced. It should just be there.
We should be able to go to any store on
the corner and pick up some vegan junk
food if we want to. We should be able to
have that choice, but
we donít. And thereís
so much stuff out
there, and still you
have to go to specific
places to get vegan
food. But it should
be everywhere; you
should have the
choice. I mean, weíre
Americans, right? This
is why weíre here, to
have a choice. So letís
have a choice.
HLNYC: What is
your choice for your
sweet tooth? How
do you indulge?
oatmeal cookies, molasses cookies. Tofootie. You ever tried that?
It tastes just like ice
cream. Yeah, man, an
ice cream sandwich.
They come in all flavors, but I like vanilla.
Thatís my sweet tooth
right there. And I feel
good eating it, because I know itís not
going to be that harmful to me. Rather than
eating a cookie thatís
got all these preservatives and harmful
stuff in it. I mean what
is red number 5? What is that stuff? And
how much energy does your body have to
put into cleansing itself of all that garbage.
No way. Give me a vegan cookie, and Iíll
be happy. But you know, if Iím training for
a competition, Iíll eat a sweet potato. Give
me a sweet potato with some vegan butter, and Iím just a fat, happy kid. But thatís
only for competitions.
HLNYC: You were a personal trainer
for 15 years. You said that you always
have your clients set mental goals, and
obviously youíve achieved a lot of the
goals that youíve set out to do. Where
do you see yourself going as far as
bodybuilding, as a vegan, an activist,
and a human?
I want to keep working with kids. You canít
just push them away because theyíre little.
Theyíve got the Internet. They can go look
up what I say. Itís not a secret. I just want to
be there, to be their big brother, and maybe say something special. I would love to
start a camp, where kids could learn about
being a vegan, and I could take them to a
farm and maybe to the gym to show them
that they can become Supermen if they
want to. Still being an activist. Still doing
Undercover TV. Still doing CHOICE. And as
long as I keep working hard as an athlete,
and keep good people around me, the
rest should fall in place.
If youíd like to learn more about Kennethís
diet and workout routine, check out his website at www.veganmusclepower.com