When Dominick Thompson first created his Instagram account, he had no idea how profoundly it would change his life, not to mention the lives of his hugely growing fan-base. His following grew swiftly and organically, thanks to the glimpse he provided into his menu and schedule, proving that even a muscular guy could survive—in fact, thrive—eating nothing but plants. Today, Thompson is pushing nearly 200,000 followers. We caught up with the ardent vegan to chat about diversifying the vegan paradigm, starting a nutrition company, and creating a healthy masculinity model.
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Not your average vegan
Thompson didn’t discover veganism by stumbling across a documentary during a “Netflix and chill” session, as so many do. He adopted a vegetarian diet during a three-year stint in prison for dealing drugs. He realized that the animals people eat were also confined like him, yet they had done nothing wrong. He also realized that even though he would get out eventually, the only escape for animals was death. He empathized with these animals. “My number-one reason for going vegan was for the animals,” Thompson says.
As a former inmate and black man, Thompson is not the stereotypical vegan most people think of. In fact, his work is helping to break down the stereotypes so that there is no one singular aesthetic of what a vegan looks like. Through his clothing company, Crazies and Weirdos, Thompson recognizes and celebrates various body types in all genders. And while he believes there is no one perfect “look” to being vegan, he does believe that a plant-based diet can be used to promote health. Borrowing a line from one of his best-selling designs, Thompson is reaching beyond the clothing business to help others “Eat What Elephants Eat.”
Plant-based health for all
Following a year of development, Thompson’s latest venture launched on New Year’s Day, 2019. Eat What Elephants Eat (EWEE) is a food and nutrition company that helps others discover the “how” of being vegan.
Thompson explains, “I wanted to do more than send out recipes. I wanted to support each individual by making EWEE the best personal one-on-one experience they will have when it comes to learning how to cook and live plant-based.”
His target audience are those who are already interested in the lifestyle but don’t know where to start (or how to afford it). The company’s first line of service is designed to make plant-based eating convenient, accessible, and affordable for everyone. Thompson notes, “If I can go plant-based in prison, anyone can go plant-based anywhere.” While many wellness and nutrition programs are reserved for the financially well-off, Thompson’s version is for everyone. He grew up watching his single mother work two jobs to provide for himself and his two sisters, so he knows what it’s like to live on a budget. He set a fair price at $14 per month, which grants unlimited access to the entire program of recipes and cooking tutorials so that economics is not a barrier to health. “I wanted to simply develop a company that would make plant-based eating fun, tasty, and more importantly, affordable.”
What it means to be a man
Beyond his two thriving companies and ever-growing Instagram account, Thompson is attempting to redefine masculinity through the lens of compassion. Both his physical strength and compassion for others is obvious; there’s no ignoring his chiseled muscles, but he often portrays his strong sense of empathy by sharing photos of himself with beloved rescued farmed-animal friends or his furry sidekick, Scruff McFly. By being a man who is at once someone no man would try to pick a fight with as well as a man who has dedicated his life to fighting for animals, Thompson is a major contributor to the dissolution of toxic masculinity. In fact, he calls his global speaking engagements “Redefining Masculinity Through Veganism.” According to Thompson, power comes from whom or what you protect, not whom or what you destroy—unless what you’re destroying are antiquated paradigms.
“To me, masculinity means to bravely fight and protect the vulnerable and innocent without hesitation,” Thompson affirms.
People come from all different backgrounds and beliefs; there is no standard or qualification to being vegan, healthy, or masculine. However, there is one thing that can unite us all, and it’s stronger than physical power, financial influence, or cosmetic allure. It’s compassion, and according to Thompson, it is accessible to us all.
Michelle Schaefer (VeggieChel.com) has her BA in Writing, MA in Psychology, and is a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator.