When I started my journey 8 months ago as a Vegan, my biggest worry was about building new muscle. Like others looking to get in shape, I did my research and discovered other vegans like me that had spartan-like bodies that were plant built. Since discovering these exceptional human beings, I have followed their advice, mimicked their diets, and worked hard toward my fitness goals. Now, as I stand here firmly planted in my new lifestyle, my body is experiencing positive changes. Not only is my health improving, I am seeing new muscle in areas I had originally considered problematic. Finding these bodybuilders gave me hope that I can build BEEF without consuming animal protein.
The days of only eating animal proteins to help grow muscles are now over. With the addition of plant based protein powders to the market, you can move away from the whey stuff containing dairy and not lose gains. Meat alternative brands like Gardein, Field Roast, and Beyond Meat are making their way to your local supermarket. There is hope for a better tomorrow America!
So, lets look at some of the individuals that are making "vegan gains" and breaking the myth that you can't build muscle on a plant based diet. That's right! No meat, chicken, pork, fish, or dairy.
What better way to start than with a genuine, plant built, strongman. Patrik Baboumian, who went vegan in 2011, holds world records in the following:
2011 4th place at loglifting worldcup (185 kg)
2011 German record in loglifting +105 kg (185 kg)
2011 German Champion and total winner in log lifting -GFSA
2011 German record in beer keg lifiting (13 repeats)
2011 Germany's Strongest Man 2011
2012 European Champion in Powerlifting Class –140 kg division (GPA)
2012 World record beer keg lifting (150,2 kg)
2012 World record Front Hold 20 kg (1:26,14 Minuten
2013 World record yoke-walk, 550,2 kg über 10 m in Toronto.
He is the proof that you can see significant strength and size gains as a vegan. When Patrik isn't crushing strength records, he works with PETA fighting against animal cruelty.
Barney Du Plessis
A longtime bodybuilder and winner of the 2014 Mr. Universe, Barney Du Plessis felt his body react negatively to the years of ingesting animal proteins. He spoke to Metro UK about this issue:
Around 20 years and 55 shows later, with multiple national and international bodybuilding titles, I finally won the prestigious Mr Universe title in 2014 on my third attempt. After winning this coveted title I became very depressed and lost my motivation. I had nothing left to fight for or prove. I was bored of shows, fed up with dieting and feeling drained all the time. ‘I hated the fact that I was eating so much in the way of meat and animal byproducts. ‘My body felt worn out. For all my adult life I’ve been fighting hard to win shows and get the results I wanted in the gym. That would involve 4-7 days a week all year round. It seemed a pointless pursuit to continue to train with the same focus. Prize money doesn’t motivate me whatsoever. I thought it was the sensible and right thing to do and retire at the top of my game. But when my partner Josie [UK’s strongest woman 2010] and I turned to veganism, everything changed. ‘These days I train half as much, do half as much but get better results. Why? Only one answer, going vegan, GMO free and organic. My body is running perfectly.
Female bodybuilder and team member for Plant Built, Erin Fergus credits her vegan diet for helping her body recover faster from workout sessions, yielding positive vegan gains.
I never get sick, I never have to skip a workout, I can train hard six days a week, I sleep well, I recover very quickly, and most important, I have a clear conscience because I am not contributing to animal cruelty. I think the biggest advantage is that I can educate others that there is a better way. Although I experience some negativity, most people I interact with are genuinely curious and open to learning more about what I eat and how I train. Being a strong athlete is one of the best ways to promote our lifestyle and to encourage others to take steps toward a plant-based one. Especially in the sport of bodybuilding, in which omnivore athletes consume large amounts of animal products in every meal and tend to be quite miserable during their contest preps.
Another member of Team Plant Built is Brooklyn-born Jehina Malik. Now, if you want proof that you can build a muscular physique as a vegan, then look no further. Jehina Malil , an IFBB professional bodybuilder, has been vegan since birth! She defines the term PLANT BUILT.
Fitness expert Jon Venus actually hated vegans when his brother became one first. However, after giving it a try, Jon has seen his body change on a plant based diet. He is not shy about sharing his story with anyone who doubts that you can't make gains on a vegan diet.
Lastly, I want to pay my respects to bodybuilding legend and vegan Jim Morris. He broke barriers as an openly gay bodybuilder when he won the following honors.
Mr. USA (1972), AAU Mr. America (1973), Mr. International (1974), and Mr. Olympia Masters Over 60 (1996).
At age 50, he became a vegetarian and over 15 years transitioned to vegan, a diet to which he credits much of his excellent health. Sadly, Jim was called home this year, but thankfully not before he left us this gift of his life.
These exceptional human beings are proof that you do not need to take a life to build muscle. For more resources on switching to a vegan diet for bodybuilding, check out Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness.