Sustainability Spotlight: Connor Bagley
Connor is a sustainable millennial from Hillsborough, New Jersey. He has been a vegetarian his whole life, while exercising daily to keep up with his lifestyle as a male model. Connor is the prime example to prove that don’t need to eat meat to get enough protein!
Tell me a little bit about yourself!
I am 23 years old, working in Manhattan in Corporate Personal training, and I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life.
[So in 23 years, you never had meat ever?]
23 years. I’ve had meat a couple times; my friends would pay me like ten bucks to eat a chicken wing. I was like “alright idiots”. I’ve never had fish; I’ve never even tasted seafood. But meat I’ve had five or six times. Last time I had it was when I was… 17? I don’t even remember what it tasted like.
Can you run through your average day of eating?
Every day I wake up and have Greek yogurt with honey and granola. Triple Zero Oikos only. Then I’ll commute to work, and I’ll have a banana and an apple. I get a wrap for lunch. Usually a spinach wrap, avocado spread, American cheese, hummus, spring mix, cole slaw, tomatoes, cucumbers, balsamic, and thousand island. I tell them, “let me put something together.” I usually eat like three bananas a day, I try to. I’ll eat before and after I work out. PB&J. Lentils. For dinner I love quinoa bowls, or sometimes I’ll have a bagel (low fat cream cheese and whole wheat bagels—always). I’ll have pizza if I’m going out, and on Sundays.
So you’re a vegetarian because of your mom?
She just didn’t like meat growing up. She said it was meatloaf *gag* that set her off. She said she would raise a child that was vegetarian and here I am. My dad didn’t eat meat for 15 years, but came home one day and said “Honey I can’t do it”. No meat in the house though, my mom doesn’t allow it. She’s pretty adamant about that. She doesn’t think that an animal should have to die for her to live.
Is there ever a negative reaction when you tell people you don’t eat meat?
I’ve gotten made fun of my entire life. My entire life.
[Do men react differently than women?]
A lot of girls will say oh that it’s cool and they want to try it, but guys give me shit. Like they’ll be eating something like a hamburger and ask me if it looks good and I’m like “No dude. It obviously doesn’t.” If someone asks about it, and asks why, they usually ask me how I get my protein.
[There’s also that ridiculous misconception that we have a protein deficiency/need to actively pursue protein in our diets, which is far from the truth.]
Totally. I’ve had a spiel I’ve given for years. Beans, cheese, nuts, legumes, yogurt. You name it. It’s quite easy.
So you’ve done quite a bit of modeling, can you tell me about that experience?
I love it, you get paid to do a ton of random shit. I always liked working out, but when I got into modeling it gave me a reason to do it. Working out and eating right is essential to being successful in modeling.
Going back to the point of women responding differently to your vegetarianism than men, do you think there is a link between masculinity and eating meat?
Personally I don’t think so. Anyone that takes an issue with vegetarianism, it’s because they’re not comfortable with themselves. When people get on me for not eating meat, and tell me I’m skinny, I just tell them I’m chillin’.
I don’t think it makes a guy more of a man if he eats meat. But I think a lot of guys might wrongly assume that. Maybe if I hadn’t been a vegetarian my whole life, I would feel differently. I don’t ever have an inclination to eat it. I just want a salad with balsamic dressing.
It’s important to consider social stigmas when it comes to choosing diets. Have you ever considered going vegan? It seems like you eat vegan for a large part of the day.
I’m what’s considered an ovo-lacto vegetarian. So I eat dairy and eggs. I think vegan is tough. [Connor eats plant based food 2/3 of the day.] There’s a stigma with being vegan that you’re an earth freak but it’s just another way of living. I think it’s hard. It’s becoming far more common nowadays so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it becoming far more mainstream.
[Cute elderly gentleman interrupts us to ask for directions to a church and Connor gives him directions]
Precious. Precious. He was adorable.
In what other ways do you practice sustainability? You bought a glass bottle which I liked [Kombucha].
[In reaction to my finalstraw]
That’s so sick, I’m definitely getting one of those.
What are some tips you have for aspiring vegetarians/vegans?
Definitely stick with healthy food choices that go with your diet—keep it simple. People claim that being vegetarian is difficult because there is “no food to eat” and that just isn’t true anymore. I eat plenty of salads and sandwiches, with whole wheat bread of course. The amount of veggie burgers that exist and meat alternatives that are now being sold make it incredibly easy now a days.
I would say to space out your meals with snacks in between meals to keep your metabolism running as smoothly and quickly as possible. I eat about 5-6 meals a day with a snack in between each. The snack might be a handful of almonds, Greek yogurt, bananas, food along those lines. Don’t ever think it, just avoid meat and animal products and exchange your cravings with healthy veggies and fruit.
Biggest challenges with being a vegetarian or leading your diet?
There aren’t too many. Honestly only if I end up going to a steakhouse or fish joint where there aren't that many other options. I usually just grab whatever side dishes they have, usually steamed veggies, mashed potatoes, or bread. Not the healthiest choices but that’s only in situations that I can’t control.
Other challenges I’ve faced is just getting flak from other people about not eating meat. I usually just let it go in one ear and out the other. I don't let other people dictate how I live my life. I like being different, it gives me an edge.
We want to applaud Connor for cutting his carbon footprint in half all of these years by not consuming animals. And for being a role model for men, specifically, who want to eat healthier and eat a lower impact diet. Meat has historically signaled affluence, but with factory farms and cheap, low quality meat, it appears that having Chopt or Sweet Green for lunch is now a greater signal of wealth and intellect. BBC launched a handy calculator to help you find out what you are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions with your diet!
Stay sustainable, millennials, and try following Connor’s diet to get those abs. We know we’re trying. Let us know how it goes! You can follow Connor on Instagram, @connor_bagley to learn more about his life. Please like and share this article if something resonates with you.
Written by: Margaret Cyr