Jay Oliveira, vegan fighter
Jay has made a rapid impact on the martial art of Brazillian Jiu Jitsu as he has fought his way to the very top.
In 2016, fighting in the Brown Belt Masters Division Jay entered five international tournaments sanctioned by the lead federation IBJFF, taking Gold in all 5 tournaments. The tournaments included the Boston Open, the Atlanta BJJ Pro, & the Miami Open, Pan American Championship and the Masters World Championship.
After winning the World Championship Jay was awarded his Black Belt on the podium from the legendary Roberto 'Cyborg' Abreu. This marked the end of a seven and a half year path to black belt that, for those who complete the journey, usually takes ten years.
Soon afterward he started competing in the Black Belt division. By July 2017 he had five tournaments behind him, with three Bronze medals and Golds in Atlanta Winter Open and the New York Spring Open.
“At the Brown Belt level in 2016 I won every tournament I entered and nobody scored a point on me all year” Jay explained to us. “This included prestigious tournaments like Masters Worlds and Pan Ams.”
By the end of the year Jay had been vegan for five years, having made the change on New Year’s Day 2012. Initially his motivation was for his health.
“I went Whole Foods Plant Based for my health after seeing the documentary Forks Over Knives and then reading The China Study,” says Jay “and the ethical aspect just naturally happened soon after. I always loved animals so it just made sense.”
“Now I'm 100% vegan no matter where I am. Ideally I eat 100% Whole Foods Plant-Based as well but that's not always possible when traveling or out with friends. At home though everything is whole foods, with no oil.”
BJJ is a sport that seems more receptive to veganism and vegetarianism than many others. Founder Carlos Gracie was a nutritionist and developed the Gracie diet which was primarily plant-based. Multiple World Champion David Meyer is a long term vegan and so are many other black belts.
Jay joins their ranks, and the ambitious Light Featherweight works hard to achieve his Black Belt ambitions.
“When I'm in my routine training in Miami I'll train at the 11am Competition class daily during week and drill at 4pm during the week. I also lift weights three days a week and try to incorporate Yoga as well.” In adding Yoga, Jay has a head start; his business partner is an accomplished Yoga teacher.
Diet is an important part of Jay’s approach and he eats a low fat, high carbohydrate diet.
“My diet consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and a bit of nuts and seeds” he says. “My dinner staple is big Brown Rice bowls with beans or lentils, greens, guacamole, and some type of sweet chili sauce, salsa, or Sriracha [a hot chilli sauce]. I also eat lots of fruits and sweet potatoes as well.”
Jay jointly runs Thriving Plant Based which helps people to achieve a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle, partly through changing to a vegan diet. However, in training he doesn’t aim to bring up the topic.
“Nobody sees it as a big issue. I never really discuss it I just train hard and let my actions speak for me and my food choices. I'm older than most of my teammates and weigh a lot less as well. They see how much I train and how I stay injury free. It has inspired several of them to eat more plants and a few have actually gone vegan.”
For Jay, reaching Black Belt seems to be a step forward and he has more to achieve.
I aim to keep training daily as this is my passion” he says “and become a multi time Masters Black Belt World Champion”.
While this shows no lack of ambition, with his focus on training, diet and mental approach, it seems entirely achievable.
“My philosophy in life is consistency. Do what you love, eat whole plant foods, and be consistent and results will come.”