The irony of Conor McGregor’s fight against Nate Diaz was not limited to a bursting of a hugely inflated ego – but to McGregor’s use of predator symbolism. Before the fight, he spoke of Diaz as a heavy-footed and wounded gazelle and he, the lion, the king of carnivores, would hunt Diaz down. In a bloody sport dominated by machismo, meat-eating is seen by many as both a necessary staple and a potent symbol of strength. However, Nate Diaz is a long-time vegan. In McGregor’s allegory, the herbivorous Gazelle has now beaten the lion – a role reversal that challenges some very deep-seated beliefs about masculinity, strength and athletics. For a man with a tiger tattooed on his stomach, a man who clearly goes to lengths to identify as a carnivorous predator, a loss to someone who actively chooses an herbivorous diet hurts in was more than physically.
According to Rise of the Vegan,
“Ido Portal, one of Conor McGregor’s coaches leading up to the fight once famously stated: “I can’t view vegan diets as something healthy. I’ve never met a vegan who was able to perform with the same energy levels as I see with someone with a more carnivore diet. I actually refuse to work with vegans”. One can only assume Ido Portal is now eating some humble (vegan) pie.