Former football player turns to filmmaking to tell story of broken dreams and rediscovered health as a vegan athlete
When Santino Panico, once a rising sports star, realized that he would never achieve his dream of becoming a big-time American football player, he took a close look at his diet. Poor health had forced him to give up the sport that he loved – including a place on the team for the University of Nebraska – even though he thought he was doing everything right in the kitchen and the gym. Panico went from devouring copious amounts of steak and eggs to a plant-based diet that bemused and confused his Italian, food-loving parents. Now, as a first-time film-maker, he tells the story of his journey to “rediscover the athlete within,” in the documentary, From The Ground Up. The film features leading athletes talking about their own adherence to a dietary lifestyle that many of their contemporaries shun. In this in-depth interview Panico re-lives the days when he was booed by fans and forced to give up his dreams; he explains how he came to the conclusion that the conventional wisdom about developing a strong body is “nonsense,” and talks, in emotional terms, about achieving “the why” when living for longevity.
Notes and quotes
00.00 In From The Ground Up former meat-eating college football player Santino Panico goes on a journey to rediscover his strength and athleticism, as a vegan. He interviews vegetarian and vegan elite competitors and challenges the social norms and impacts of food choices. Watch the trailer here.
07.56 Panico left the Nebraska football program in 2005.
08.20 Panico’s Huskers bio: “Panico earned Illinois Gatorade Player-of-the-Year honors and was a first-team all-state selection by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The News Gazette, The Pioneer Press-News and the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association.”
16.20 Dr. T. Colin Campbell is the co-author of the bestselling book The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health. His latest book is the New York Times bestseller Whole, and The Low-Carb Fraud.
40.32 “Rock star vegan” and ultra marathon runner Scott Jurek features in Panico’s documentary.
42.37 Former pro UFC fighter, Mac Danzig, inspired Santino and is part of the documentary.