Can Vegans Play Football? with John Rush





John Rush is a professional Canadian football player, vegan, violence against women advocate and lover of rescue dogs. John and I talk about what it's like to be a vegan athlete and remind everyone you really CAN get all your protein from plants. John also discusses his work with the Canadian campaign to end violence against women. His two rescue dogs make appearances throughout the show which seems quite perfect given John's passion for rescuing animals. John talks about his reluctance to show up on social media but how the The Edgy Veg convinced him otherwise. You can find him on Instagram or check out his videos on Youtube! His food blog is scheduled to be released on July 16th so be on the look out for that!


Please note, this episode has been transcribed by a computer, expect some typos!


Carly Puch

Welcome back to another episode of Consciously cCueless. I'm your host, Carly and I will be your guide on this journey from cluelessness to consciousness and back around again. Today on the podcast, I am joined by john rush. JOHN is a professional football player in Canada, who was an advocate for the vegan lifestyle, ending violence against women, and for adopting dogs out of shelters. You can hear some appearances by his dogs in the background once in a while. Here we go.

Carly Puch

Well, first of all, thank you for joining me on this new adventure. I appreciate you being willing to be like sure that sounds interesting.

John Rush

Yeah, I'm excited to do this with you. It's a it's always fun doing new things and new concepts with new people because you get to learn a lot more from all the different perspectives right so

Carly Puch

yeah, Exactly.

John Rush

So I'm excited to be here.

Carly Puch

Thank you. It's called consciously clueless. And for me that just means, like this honest place to explore those moments that we learn and we feel like we're like consciously moving through life and we're killing it. And then those moments where we feel totally clueless and like, we have no idea what's going on and then like everything in between. Yeah, so given that description, how are you feeling right now? Like, where on that spectrum are you feeling.

John Rush

Um, it's kind of interesting. Because I'm, I kind of feel perpetually clueless. Even though I've gotten to do and experience some pretty amazing things in my life. I feel like that. I'm always just, there's always, I don't want to say someone better out there but there's, there's always someone more knowledgeable. There's always someone that's better at their craft that Does, you know whatever it is that I'm trying to do better than me? So I always find that I'm kind of just always playing catch up in a sense. So I find for myself personally, that I'm always in that kind of clueless state. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing myself. Because it just, it just forces me to keep exploring new things. But it can be frustrating at times when you feel like you're never honestly satisfied, but you're just kind of never there. You're always searching for something.

Carly Puch

Yeah, one of the things I learned when I was going through my yoga teacher training was this idea of being content. And when they talked about it in the training, it was as if this was a thing to aspire to. And my immediate reaction was, Why don't to just be content. That's never something I thought of as being okay with but it's hard to find that balance where you're like, Oh, I'm content with where I'm at. I feel like I'm doing a good job.

John Rush

Yeah. Know exactly and like, especially as an athlete, because just as an athlete, right, you're always looking, you always want to, you know, get a better personal record, you always want to beat that other record, you want to be the best on the team and the best in the league, and so on and so forth. So, it's very difficult to be contented when you're constantly comparing yourself. Right.

Carly Puch

Right. Absolutely. Well, in that vein, full disclosure, I don't know as much about football as I should going into this interview. But I was like doing research and looking up your stats, and I know enough to know that you're a damn good football player.

John Rush

I appreciate that. But, you know, it's interesting, because when I look around our locker room, I just, I don't even I think it's hard to describe, it's just like, I don't even see myself as I you know, a good football player in that locker room because I'm just surrounded by so many amazing football player. So it's kind of it's kind of funny, how that you can kind of get that mentality Sometimes when you're actually good at something, but you're surrounded by so much, you know, quote unquote better people than you, you just don't even realize it yourself.

Carly Puch

So how did you get into professional football in Canada? I should say in Canada for people listening to

John Rush

Yeah, yeah, I know for sure. It's a, it was a long journey for me. I started playing football when I was like nine years old with my brother. It was always, you know, something we always wanted to do was play football professionally, and then went to the University of wealth. As at 17 years old, started and played there. tore my ACL my third year thought I wasn't gonna play football anymore. And I missed my draft year because of it. So I didn't get drafted, had to go back for a fifth year of university. Finally got invited to a camp went to the camp. I got cut, and forget like I took it like not a year. off, but I, I ended up just like finishing my degree and just working out and then they got re invited to the same cap. And I finally made it that year that I've, you know, been in pro sports ever since. Okay, it's been a It's been a long journey, but it's, uh, it's been it's been fun.

Carly Puch

Yeah, I mean, it's funny because when you when we've chatted so far, you've talked about, you know, comparing yourself and, and it's hard to be content, but it sounds like, obviously, you're good enough to get there and be invited back and like persevere through all.

John Rush

that. Yeah, yeah. Like, I mean, yeah, but at the same time, like it's such a it's such a weird feeling because like, you're when I was like, younger, whenever I was in the university, it was always like, oh, get to the CFL, get to the CFL. Like, not that I've made it, you know what I mean? Like, then I know I made it. But now that I'm in the CFL, it's, it's different. You know what I mean? It's like, right now I'm here. Now it's something else. I have to get somewhere else. And it's like, it was like, Yeah, like I'm good enough. But like, in my mind, I'm not.

Carly Puch

Right. Do you think you'll ever reach that point where you feel like, Oh, I'm good enough? What does that feel like?

John Rush

I, I honestly, I don't know. I don't know if that's just like my personality where I I just can't stop. Like, I can't stop. Whether it's like learning or doing more doing something else. I don't know if that's just like a personality trait because like, I don't I can't remember a time in my life where I haven't been doing something and trying to get better at something. So I don't I don't know if there will ever be a time in my life where I stop and just kind of enjoy the moment right now.

Carly Puch

Yeah, well, and definitely I think in our society, we're taught to have that drive right? Where we're always is that achieve, achieve achieve achieve In our Western culture, which is sometimes really good, but I know for myself is sometimes my detriment because I start treating things like they're just on the to do list.

John Rush

Yeah, no, exactly. You're not you're not enjoying doing them. You're doing them because they're doing something else for you. Right.

Carly Puch

Right. Exactly. And all of a sudden, you look around, you're like, oh, I've done some cool things. Like, I didn't slow down to appreciate it.

John Rush

Yeah, no, exactly. Yeah, it's like even this year when we won the Grey Cup like it. It's such a it was such a surreal feeling. And it was so crazy that it was it was difficult to slow down and appreciate the moment because there's so much other things going on, you know, I mean,

Carly Puch

yeah, definitely. So continuing on with the conversation about football, you also use your social media platforms to talk a lot about being vegan and plant based. So I definitely want to dive into that. But when I think of you being a football player and doing that, I'm really curious, like I love the intersections of people's identities. Like that's part of this too, right? Like, that's a really fun intersection. And I'm curious what that's like on the football team, like, have you gotten pushback? Have you converted anybody?

John Rush

It's honestly pretty interesting because, um, I actually hit it for the entire first year, I didn't let anybody know I was vegan. And we get fed breakfast and lunch when we're at the stadium because we have to, we show up at like, six in the morning. And then we go until like, three in the afternoon, so we don't we don't really have time to make food. Right? Right. So we work with some lunch while we're at the stadium. And like, I would just like pick around the food that I could eat like I always had like a salad bar that had chickpeas and you know, whatever, like that oatmeal every morning that I would eat like I level on the way so it was perfect. So like I never really like said anything the first year I I honestly thought I was gonna get cut for it. I thought yeah, like I thought if they found out I was vegan, they would cut me But then I obviously started posting about it on my Instagram. So like, kinda like words slowly got out into like the next coming years and me playing. And it was actually kind of funny, like no one really had the conversation with me. But then all of a sudden they just started having like vegan options out of nowhere. Like a chef was your say, Oh, hey, we have beyond meat burgers today. And I'm like, Okay. He's like, he's like, there's only two so

Carly Puch

Grab em now John

John Rush

Yeah, like Okay, so that's definitely for me.

Carly Puch

So, what would make you think you might be cut? I'm so curious.

John Rush

I mean, like, there's just a there's like a huge stigma around veganism in general. But especially with the whole you can't get enough protein thing. And, you know, I thought, if they if they you know, found I was vegan, and they might just, you know, think I wasn't taking football seriously or something or the other it's sports is a very cutthroat world. That's right. You can get caught for much less than that. So so it's just kind of it was just something I was just very aware of in my mind, you know, I didn't want to jeopardize my income because that's, you know, how I was paying the bills.

Carly Puch

right

John Rush

Because I wasn't eating animals anymore and but honestly, it was like once they found out like, No one said anything. Like, none of the coaches none of the management they all they were fine. And they most of the players just like asked me about it like how do you get enough protein dude? Like, we're just like general curiosity being like, because like obviously in football, you know, in sports in general, but football predominantly is like very testosterone driven very like macho man right? You know, you need State you need the you know, chicken and broccoli at every meal stay lean, blah, blah, blah. And we've been force fed that information since we were like, eight. You know, that's all. That's all a lot of us ever knew. So if you don't actually go out and do your own research, you're just blindly believe that stuff, right? So. So for me now talking to these guys, I'm kinda like educating them and be like, yeah, like it. I'm like, you could be surprised at how much protein there actually isn't other foods, right? We're never told this. Like, you were always told chicken was like a source of protein. That's it.

Carly Puch

But nobody can ever actually tell you how much unless you're like an athlete. I love though, when people are like, Where do you get your protein? And then if you ask them, like, well, how much protein do you get from your meals? They're like, I,uh, I'm not sure. I don't know.

John Rush

Exactly be right. You know, it's like, it's a classic like, you know, someone's you know, crushing like a Big Mac or something. And then you're like, you're being solid and they're like, oh, like where do you get your protein? Like dude, there's like no protein. So like it, it's just kind of like it just we've just been fed this this narrative, right that you can only eat so like they're mostly almost all the guys are just generally curious. Right? So I it's honestly been great like I haven't converted anybody but a lot of the guys eat like a lot more plant based now it's obviously becoming a lot more mainstream now to operate with like the game changers coming out. So cool. A lot of hats. There's awesome, right? And a lot of athletes in the NFL and stuff like that are going vegan too. So I like that trickle down effect right like that. If all the all the biggest athletes in the world go vegan, then like it kind of trickles down to all the other athletes and that's always been kind of cool to watch from my perspective, because I've been vegan for you know, four years now.

Carly Puch

It sounds like to me what you're identified a little bit and correct me if I'm wrong is that connection to masculinity? veganism that like interesting part you said that you know football like macho manly and I think there's such a stigma around those two things like not being able to coexist yeah

John Rush 13:12

yeah 100% like you know guys ask me all the time about like tofu and soy and how you know increases estrogen and and like they're like it's honestly that point almost comical how like one just like uneducated they are on these topics like they just they don't even know but at the same time how crazy the misinformation campaign has been against lannoy in veganism and calling people soy boys and and all this other stuff and I'm just like man like it's like it's such an easily disproven theory that it like sometimes. Like I eat I eat almost a block of tofu a day I love tofu. I eat like a block of it a day. I'm 230 pounds I've been 230 pounds. I've the best shape of my life. I don't know. man boobs I've been doing it for four years you know what I mean?

Carly Puch

Like scratch that off the list it's not

John Rush

Right so i mean i think it's hilarious if soy gave people like bigger breasts you don't think every you know plastic surgeon in the world wouldn't be out of business. Good point. It's so like sometimes it's like thinking about it. Now it seems so ridiculous but at one point I believed all that stuff to come with it. You know what I mean? So like, Huh, it's it's it's crazy to think about it's crazy to see like how you know attached we have this Like this, like this male ego to like the need to eat meat. Hmm. It's crazy. It honestly it honestly is crazy.

Carly Puch

So how, what got you to turn vegan? What? What was that journey like?

John Rush

It was actually kind of funny like I fought it for a long time. I made fun of my brother and his wife did it for a month because Beyonce was like into it. So

Carly Puch

Thanks Beyonce.

John Rush

Like I made fun of them endlessly like, you know, five or six years ago when they did Oh my god, you can't get a protein like us radio, blah, blah. I had a trainer that just happened to be vegan. I didn't even really know he was vegan, actually, until he started talking to me about it. Like, probably six months into it. I need I need to lose weight. I need to lose like 25 pounds in a couple months. He's like, Dude, why don't like Why don't you try and go vegan. And see, right? He's like, you've literally tried to do everything else. He's like, you've tried everything else to lose weight. It's not working. Like go vegan. I'll help you do it. Like if we do it right. You'll be able to keep your strength and if you like try for a month and if you like love it, just keep doing it. If you hate it, just stop like He's like, no, trying low stakes. Yeah, exactly right. So I tried it and like within the first week, I just like, I felt I hadn't lost any weight, but I felt like I lost 10 pounds. I was like, Damn, like, I feel great right now. And then like, so like, I have arthritis in my knees through football, right? Like, it's just like wear and tear on the body. It's terrible for you. So my knees are shot. And they get they hurt all the time. But like once I once I went vegan, like they stopped hurting. So yeah, I get my body part. Sorry, feel amazing. I was like, this really weird thing happened to like, where no one's actually been able to tell me why but like I was for the first month I went vegan. I was only sleeping like five hours a night. But I was like waking up like I slept like 12 like I woke up so refresh. It was like a really weird thing. Like I was dating a girl at the time. And I kept saying I'm like, man, like I didn't get to bed till like three last night but I feel amazing right now. Like I thought it was like all gonna catch up on me and stuff and like, yeah, like you're gonna crash Yeah, we're gonna just never did. I'm just like, man like, what the heck and like I was lifting weights like more weights in the gym and I was recovering faster I was never store after work. I was like, Oh my god, like maybe these guys are onto something and like obviously I can be huge like dog lover

Carly Puch

We can hear in the background.

John Rush

Yeah. So I started doing research on like, I started doing research on all that stuff and, and animal rescues and, and how cows how best friends and pigs are smarter than dogs. And I'm just like, man, like, That's tough. Like, like, how can I talk about dogs and save dogs? And you know, all this stuff about dogs, when they're the other animals suffer in the exact same way. Right? You know what I mean? And then, like, not only that, that was that was actually a greater on the time like, the UN released they're like, the world has, like I don't always like 10 years to like reverse climate change or like we're all like fuck, basically Yeah, and I was like, I was like, oh man, like, it's becoming really difficult to like have an argument against this. You know what I mean? I was just like, I was like the only argument that I ever understood for the first year of being vegan was the tasting. I guess a lot of like, man like, like vegan food just wasn't tasty right I would write I was crushed like a you know, a Domino's Pizza with extra cheese and like, I'm sorry, but like vegan cheese is trash like it just it's not the same as crushing a, you know, a pan pizza from Domino's, for sure. But I also didn't necessarily explore and it was on it was my own fault. It was it was really my own fault. I didn't explore out of my, my my box in my area. And like that was the problem that I wasn't like trying all these new recipes. I wasn't trying to you know, garner a new a new palette and a new kind of appreciation for food because really, you You have to reteach yourself how to cook and how to yes do everything right like what what foods go with what foods because like how you associated food before it was always like, okay what goes with me? What right what right this meal like what in this meal is going to go with me what is going to go with chicken? Where's gonna go with this steak and all of a sudden you don't have that anymore. And then all of a sudden the what is going with it is the main part. And you're like shit...

Carly Puch

Like what is what is even going on this plate? I'm just used to making a bunch of sides.

John Rush

Yeah, exactly. Right. Yep. Well, so it was like really difficult. But then I after like a year went by, I actually ended up meeting the edge of edge. And I got connected with her. And I bought her cookbook and I was the first cookbook I ever bought, actually. And it's a pretty good story. Yeah, exactly. Right. So I was like, Oh shit, like vegan foods good. You just have to like pre teach yourself. How to Cook and how to you know what goes with what and and from there it was like a lot easier and I kind of brought me to now where I'm making my own recipes and kind of doing a flute food blog myself.

Carly Puch

Um, yeah, your Instagram. Like let's talk about that you're killing it like you're a turning into a home chef. Let's just let's just call it.

John Rush

Yeah, I'm basically I'm basically as domestic as it gets at this point. I don't know, like, during quarantine started, I had a ton of time and I do love cooking. I always like growing up I like I cooked in the kitchen with my mom all the time. And then recently, when quarantine started, I just started cooking like, a lot more. And then, you know, people started asking me for recipes and stuff like that. And I'm like, man, like I should really start a food blog. I always I always vowed to not start a food blog because I've heard it was I'm just like man like I do not want to do this.

Carly Puch

And yet here you are.

John Rush

Ya exactly. Right now I'm doing it. But it's honestly it's been a lot of fun so far. I have about I'm trying to look, I have a list right here beside me of all the recipes I'm working on. And I have a list of about 150 recipes that are like, like, not like ready to go, but like in the bank and like I've been working on, and then I have I have about 25 that are ready to get uploaded. I just like the hardest part is like taking the pictures. That's what I'm not good at. Yes. So like, you go to these other polls, like you go to canvases website, or Instagram, and like, they're like, the nicest pictures ever. And I'm just like, Yeah

Carly Puch

I know whenever I make something and I'm like, Oh, I want to share this. You take a picture and I'm like, oh man, he's just like, like shitty waffles. Like I was so excited

John Rush

Oh, exactly. Right. You're like wow, these tastes so good, but they Not photographs well and and that's what I'm kind of trying to do now

Carly Puch

Sounds like you're basically on your way to a cookbook

John Rush

Well, I don't know I don't know about cookbook but maybe one day it's gonna be fun though because like I have a job so it's always fun doing all this stuff like this like influencer stuff because like I just think it's hilarious because I have a job and so that I don't care about it but like I don't it's not my full time job so I only support brands do brand deals with brands I actually right like and enjoy like, there's like promoting whatever like the other day I promoted beyond meat. It's now at Safeway right? Like, yeah, I literally at beyond meat again yesterday. I eat beyond meat like almost everyday.

Carly Puch

You're doing it because you believe in the brand.

John Rush

Yeah, exactly. Right. So and I'm like, I'm able to do that because I have a job. I'm actually when I started this food blog and I'm going to have like ads on it and stuff like that. All the adsense revenue from the blog is going to go to rescues Yeah, totally rescue kitchen and all the all the AdSense made from it like after after I pay off like you know the hosting service and you know all the expenses of buying groceries, all that excess revenue goes to goes to a dog rescue and we're gonna kind of, we're gonna I gotta figure out still how that's gonna work like how we're going to pick the who it goes to and when and where kind of thing but, uh, but yeah, that's that's kind of the plan right now.

Carly Puch

That's amazing. So how did you get into rescue work? I know that Bone takes up a lot of your Instagram and as he should.

John Rush

He's great. I love him. He's one of the best things that's ever happened to me, that's for sure. But how I started actually I started when I was nine. I um, I was a needy little kid. Honestly, I don't know how my parents dealt with me. I was a lot.

Carly Puch

I relate.

John Rush

And I beg them for a dog bag them for a dog like so for so for years, I begged him for a dog and I'm the baby. So eventually they conceded. But there one stipulation was that we had to adopt it. And at that age, I was kind of just okay I don't care.

Carly Puch

Yeah, like I am getting a dog. Okay.

John Rush

Right, like, but then, uh, you know, when we adopted him and then it kind of then I grew up with him. He was my dog. Mm hmm. it all became it started to make more sense to me the whole adopt, like adopt don't shop thing. And then just kind of flourish there. He lived till he was 14 after that. He was a sweet dog. Yeah, he was great. He died when I was in my third year university. So that was tough. I didn't I didn't I didn't get another dog until bone actually. I just I couldn't do it. Yeah. So um, so that was, that was kind of where it started. I was just like, I was just needy.

Carly Puch

What a cool thing though, for your parents, like, you know, at, it's becoming more and more popular to talk about adoption and stuff, but even just to say like, Okay, well, if you want a dog we're going to adopt, like, what a cool thing for a young kid to learn because that obviously planted a seed.

John Rush

No for sure that that's just kind of like it goes to show like how much like impact parents can have on their children just by showing them how to, you know, live their lives in the right way. You know what I mean? It really doesn't take that much. It's all like my parents had of this, like, big long conversation with me about the importance of adopting, like, when you're that young you you just like pick up on things like inherently right, like, you adopt a dog you just understand that that's like, and then you grow to love them and, you know, as they grow up, it's just like, man, like, yeah, this makes sense. Like, everyone should be if there's a dog in a shelter, Everyone should be adopting first right you should be like a law that you have to prove that you try to adopt a dog before you go buy a dog. Yes. Like that like that's like that's how it should work like it won't because capitalism and whatever but that's like if we if people were serious about wanting to you know help dogs and stuff like that like dogs what we should be lobbying politicians for

Carly Puch

That's a really interesting, Are there kill shelters in Canada?

John Rush

Yeah yeah there are I know Quebec's really bad for kill shelters still. But most most places only kill if it's necessary like I know Winnipeg Winnipeg like especially the way a paid Humane Society is technically a no kill shelter. So they won't kill a dog if they don't have to. But if that dog has, you know, if it's bitten somebody if it's been, you know, super aggressive towards other dogs and showing that and there's just there's nothing they can do or it's that the situation was so bad that you know they have to put it down. That's like that's when they'll do it.

Carly Puch

Right

John Rush

Which is it's still super unfortunate but at the same time at least you know, I know there's a lot of places in like other like states and provinces villages fog, because it's been in the shelter too long, right? Yeah, yeah, that's actually that's bone bone was in Quebec and he was in a shelter for too long. And he was about to be euthanized and another shelter from Ontario picked him up and brought him back.

Carly Puch

Oh my god, how was that sweet dog in a shelter for too long?

John Rush

I honestly, I don't know. I don't know how I got so lucky with him. Like, he's literally like, the best looking like he's super calm. He's great with kids. He has zero correction. Like the family that got him purebred said he had six months was too big and that's why they were giving him up.

Carly Puch

Oh, that's like one of my pet peeves. Like you got a dog and didn't realize it was gonna grow.

John Rush

Especially a giant breed dog like him like Yeah, you got a St. Bernard. Great Pyrenees mix like pardon. Literally, they're the two biggest dogs you can get. Oh my god, but you can get bigger than these two and you you're upset that he got too big like, but yeah, so that's kind of where bone came from. And I don't understand how no one else picked him up like he just big chills he sleeps like 23 hours a day. Maybe the biggest children I've ever met Bally lunatic. Absolute lunatic. She's a puppy though, right? Oh, yeah. Okay. She I think she's she turned seven months next week. So she's she's still super young like hundred percent, but like lunatic. I love her. I love her to death, but she's a lunatic. What kind of dog is she? She's the same as bone. They're both great here at St. Bernard mix. Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah, we're just like super weird. Like I adopted them both. And they're just the exact same breed somehow. Oh, wow. That's funny.

Carly Puch

Yeah, they're both beautiful. I highly recommend people go and search through and find them on your Instagram because they're so fun.

John Rush

Yeah, they're, they're a good time. That's for sure.

Carly Puch

Yeah. One of the other things that I when I started following you a while back that I was really impressed with and excited to see was your work with campaigns to end violence against women. And it looks like it's through the football team. So can you tell me a little bit more about that I've I work and have worked as an advocate for survivors. So seeing again, those intersections of that work coming from athletes from male athletes like it makes a huge difference and a huge influence on people.

John Rush

Yeah, for sure. It's a it's actually pretty interesting. Because I honestly I just didn't know much about it before I started this program. So I come from a family where my parents are both married and have a good marriage and I lived a relatively sheltered childhood in Niagara Falls, they just nothing really bad ever happened. I didn't make I wasn't really exposed to a whole lot. Mm hmm. And then I got to Winnipeg, they asked me they're like, hey, do you want to be a part of this program? You know, only a couple guys on a team do it are selected to do it and they're like, we think you would you know, you do well, and you you can do that you should do this. So I said, I'm not sure that God seems like a good opportunity it. If nothing else, I'll learn something. And I know we get to try, like part of the part of the program is we traveled to Northern Manitoba and give these talks Like, well, at least I'll get to travel in