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Name: Joel Rosario
Year of Birth: 1986
Height: 5'6"
Weight: 165
Birthplace: Bronx, New York
Current Residence: Gaithersburg, Maryland
Sports: Crossfit, Olympic Lifting, MMA, Jiu Jitsu, Recreational Football
Max Back Squat: 335
Max Front Squat: 275
Max Clean and Jerk: 225
Max Deadlift: 385

Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have.
My name is Joel Rosario and I’m a 27 year old Firefighter Paramedic for Montgomery County, MD. I’m an adrenaline junkie and an aspiring personal trainer. I have a passion for fitness and health with a natural instinct to help people. Food, fitness and ethical living have is my passion and I hope to share that with the world.

Why did you become vegan?
I’ve been a Firefighter Paramedic for 8 years and have witnessed countless emergencies when the public is at their worse. Every shift I’m reminded of how unhealthy we are as a society when I walk into a patient’s home and witness the countless medications the patient is prescribed. It also seemed unethical to love a family pet yet consume animals as intelligent as dogs. 17 months ago, I began my journey into a Vegan/Plant-Based lifestyle and have not looked back. Throughout my journey, I've developed a stronger bond to all living things and now understand that we all have something in common, that is we all feel pain and suffering. Initially I changed my dietary lifestyle because I was curious and I wanted to lose weight. Since educating myself and continuing to due so, I’ve made it my mission to live Plant-Strong and help lead others to a guilt and cruelty-free dietary lifestyle.

When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I have always been interested in fitness since participating in sports as a child. It wasn't until my freshman year of high school when I began a weight lifting regiment. Since then, I consider myself a "jack of all trades" in the world of fitness. I'm actively involved in Crossfit and Jiu Jitsu. Before Crossfit, I ran my first ultra marathon but conventional workout methods and running routines bore me very quickly. I love Crossfit because of its intensity, unity, anaerobic activity which directly related to my career as a firefighter and its constant variations.  

How would you describe your nutrition program?
My nutritional consumption is primarily whole foods which are whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. I do not cook with any added oils, coconut fruit, avocado, seeds or nuts due to the high fat content of those items. I do not take supplements of any kind with the exception of a B12 supplement once every 3 days. All of my nutrients, macro/micro come from plant based foods and all of my nutrient demands are met. High intakes of complex carbohydrates, fiber and plant protein is what keeps me fueled. People want to be as strong as the ox not knowing that the ox eats grass!

How would you describe your training program?
I would describe my training program as high intensity movements for a short amount of time requiring large outputs of fast twitch muscle fibers. Every workout I do involves full body movement with constant enforcement and concentration on strengthening the core and correct form. Explosive controlled movements designed to increase overall lean muscle and cardiac output.

What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
The most common question I've been asked is "where do I get my protein?" Truth is, Plants contain more protein per calorie than any other sources without the added saturates fats and cholesterol. There are no nutrients you can't obtain from Plants that you can obtain through animal products with the exception of B12 which is stripped from the plant during the cleaning process. That can be easily replaced by a B12 supplement, eating a handful of organic soil (not recommended lol) or fortified non-dairy milks.

Another common misconception is that we consume salads all day, everyday. I LOVE to cook and since I've embraced a Vegan Whole Foods Plant-Based lifestyle, I've been able to cook more often and much more diverse. I have influenced fellow firefighters and my family with my cooking alone!

A misconception I personally had before transitioning to Vegan was the idea that every Vegan was a skinny hippie. That's clearly not the case! It's because of this general idea that I take immense pride in my beliefs and dietary lifestyle.

What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with veganism or training?
I tell them it's ok to do it progressively if they are not capable of doing it overnight like I did. I tell them to educate themselves often and to join support groups to bring together like minded people. If you want to truly succeed, changing your environment is very important so you are not setting yourself up for failure. Reading clinical facts and studies on how animal products affect the environment and our health is crucial during the transition phases because people will always be ready to challenge your choice to live a healthier and ethical lifestyle. The more you educate yourself, the more you will realize that people are prejudice die to fear of the unknown instead of just thinking they are ignorant.

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share? 
I'd like to share that whether you're becoming Vegan for health or ethical reasons, we are all achieving the same goal whether intentional or not. Vegans often judge each others level of Veganism and I think that's the wrong approach. I'm willing to bet that I can walk into almost any Vegans home and find something that isn't ethically animal-free. If Vegans avoid products because they disapprove of certain processing methods, no vegans could ride in a car, drink tap water, live in a house, or wear manufactured clothing. So before we judge each others level of Veganism for self moral superiority, let's not forget the common goal we are trying to achieve.
 As T. Colin Campbell stated in the China Study, "no one profits from telling you to eat broccoli".