Have you been looking for a detailed overview of vegan bodybuilding? Need information to help you accomplish your fitness goals on a vegan diet? You found it!
This is the Total Guide to Vegan Bodybuilding. We will discuss what vegan bodybuilding is, if it’s possible, and common concerns and misconceptions. We will also overview how to use a diet to achieve your fitness goals. Lastly we will overview the vegan diet and its modified version for bodybuilding goals.
In future articles we will dive deeper into the vegan bodybuilding diet, provide a vegan bodybuilding food list, share vegan bodybuilding diet plans for both growth and cutting, etc. Definitely make sure to sign up for our email list to be notified of all articles.
Here we go!
What is Vegan Bodybuilding
You may have heard the term vegan bodybuilding or vegan bodybuilder. This is simple. Vegan bodybuilders are bodybuilders that are vegan and eat a vegan diet and/or practice a vegan lifestyle.
That brings us to an obvious question. What is a vegan diet?
Is Vegan Bodybuilding Possible?
Accomplishing your goals as a vegan bodybuilder is absolutely possible.
The misconception that vegans are weak and frail because all they eat is lettuce and carrots (no offense to lettuce or carrots) is not only offensive, but it is completely false!
The vegan diet has so many food options to pick from. A vegan (or plant-based) diet can be designed to accomplish any and all bodybuilding and fitness goals, from building mass to shredding fat by altering the macros (fat, carbs, proteins) of the diet.
Yes, to those unfamiliar or starting out it might seem harder than eating animal meat and drinking whey protein powders. However, once a familiarity with the vegan diet is gained it is easy to develop a diet to achieve your fitness goals.
Below we will look at an overview of both the vegan diet as a whole as well the vegan bodybuilding diet.
First, let’s address some of the common concerns and misconceptions of the vegan diet.
Misconceptions and Myths About Vegan Bodybuilding
There seems to be a group of common misconceptions and myths about individuals on a vegan diet and the vegan diet itself. As this article is about vegan bodybuilding we will stick to the ones relevant to that topic.
- Vegans can’t get enough protein to build muscle and recover: this is completely FALSE! Protein requirements are easily accomplished by eating plant based foods. These beans and legumes, soy based products, plant-based protein powders, nuts, seeds, etc. See our comprehensive guide to vegan protein sources.
- Vegans are weak: FALSE! Check out Patrik Baboumian, an amazing vegan strongman, and then see if this is true.
- It is not possible to get all necessary nutrients on a vegan diet: Also false. While it is true that removing animal products reduces levels of certain nutrients these can be replaced with plant-based sources or supplements.
- If I eat vegan I will end up skinny: this is also false. Like non-vegans those on a vegan diet come in all sizes, and whether a person is skinny or not depends on their dietary choices. As we will see below there are many unhealthy vegan foods available. It is the individual’s diet and exercise choices that determine their weight and size.
Understanding the vegan diet helps to explain why these misconceptions are not true and how a vegan diet can be used to accomplish any fitness goal.
What is a Vegan Diet?
An in-depth guide to the vegan diet is beyond the scope of this article. The following is a high-level overview for beginners.
In the absolute simplest definition a vegan diet is one that contains absolutely no animal products, whether in food, drinks, supplements, etc. Below are both foods that are common in a vegan diet and vegan diet exclusions.
Common Vegan Diet Foods
Let’s get one common perception out of the way. Eating a vegan diet doesn’t mean you only eat vegetables. Yes, vegetables are a big part of it, but the vegan diet includes so much more!
Healthy Vegan Foods
Let’s look at the most common foods that are included in a healthy vegan diet. There are many sources on the web that pull these lists together, such as this one from WebMD.com.
- Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, cabbage, etc.
- Fruits: berries, apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocado, etc.
- Legumes: a good vegan protein source including beans, bean products such as tofu and tempeh, lentils, peas, etc.
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts
- Seeds: chia seeds, flax meal and seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, etc.
- Starches and carbohydrates: sweet potatoes, white potatoes and other root veggies, breads (make sure they are vegan), rice, pasta, etc.
- Dairy alternatives (milks, etc.)
- (Select) plant-based meat substitutes: These can pack a powerful plant-based protein punch. Although included in our healthy list the range of these products is very wide so do be cautious.
- Plant-based oils – coconut, avocado, vegetable, etc.
- Plant-based protein powders: protein powder supplements made from legumes, seeds, nuts, etc.
Unhealthy Vegan Foods
Some people think that becoming vegan means you become inherently healthy, but this is completely false. Just like with any diet a vegan diet can be unhealthy if you eat the wrong foods. In fact, it can be even worse than an animal based diet when a person makes poor dietary choices.
In other words, the healthiness of a vegan diet is dependent on the healthiness of the person themselves.
As the vegan diet has been growing in popularity the amount of foods catering to vegans has grown as well. With it come highly processed and/or generally unhealthy vegan foods.
Unhealthy vegan foods include most processed vegan foods, such as vegan ice cream, vegan desserts including cookies and cakes, vegan mac n’ cheese, vegan frozen processed foods, french fries, etc.
Vegan Diet Exclusions
Let’s break the “animal product” exclusions down into a few components.
First, and most basic vegan diets do not include any animal meat, including any animals roaming the land as well as those in the sea (fish) or sky (the birds and bees).
Second, the vegan diet excludes any product that comes from an animal, such as eggs and dairy (cheese, milk, etc.). Also, animal products include animal fat, skin, organs, blood, bones, hooves, tongues, stomach lining, etc..
Lastly, it excludes any food that uses animal products as an ingredient, such as gelatin, or as any type of processing aid, such as animal based fining agents in wine made from eggs.
The full list of animal products is extensive. If you are interested to learn all animal products, including animal-derived ingredients check out a full list from PETA.
Now that you have a high level understanding of the vegan diet lets talk about the vegan bodybuilding diet.
Vegan Bodybuilding Diet
A vegan bodybuilding diet is a diet that stays within the guidelines of the vegan diet and produces the macro and micro nutrition a person needs to reach their bodybuilding goals.
The vegan bodybuilding diet is developed based on an individual’s bodybuilding goals. A vegan diet can be altered to achieve many fitness goals, such as muscle gain, strength gain, endurance, and weight loss or cutting.
The vegan diet is broad and customizable. A meal plan can be built for any diet and nutrition goals by altering the macros (fat, carbs, proteins) of the diet.
Some examples of vegan bodybuilding diets include those for bulking, cutting or endurance sports. You can also alter the diet to accomplish dietary restrictions, such as gluten free, processed free, low glycemic-index, or a combo of many of them.
We will share diet plans for each of these goals in future articles so make sure you subscribe to our mailing list to receive notifications for them.
Famous Vegan Bodybuilders and Athletes
Perhaps the best way to show that you can accomplish your fitness and dietary goals on a vegan diet is through examples of some of the world’s top strongmen and bodybuilders as well as athletes who just happen to be vegan.
Check out PETA’s list of vegan bodybuilders and strongmen, which includes males and females. Patrik Baboumian, Dominick Thompson, Nimai Delgado, Korin Sutton, Samantha Shorkey, Laurel Fredette, and Crissi Carvalho amongst many others.
What about sports athletes? According to a LIVEKINDLY article vegans currently in the NFL include Cam Newton (Panthers), Andre Patton (Chargers), Griff Whalen, DaQuan Jones (Titans), Wesley Woodyard (Titans), Tyrann Mahieu (Texans) and Theo Riddick (Broncos).
Multiple NBA players are vegans, such as Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Wilson Chandler, and DeAndre Jordan.
Denis Mikhaylove and Scott Jurek certainly prove that you can excel in ulta-endurance sports as vegans.
There are several others. These are just a small sample.
We would love to hear your thoughts…
Let us know your thoughts. Add your feedback below, and tell us your vegan success story or your concerns or questions about becoming vegan.