Before I jump into this, a word on promoting male stereotypes: We do not, in any way, promote an ideal male or female body type or image (please read these articles on toxic masculinity and why we should recognize what we do to reinforce these cultural norms ourselves) . This is intentionally an article about male competitive body building, and why going vegan is totally applicable to this lifestyle, and also healthier. I have included some names of competitive female bodybuilders at the end, but it is not the focus of this article.
We advocate for health, which definitely does not need to involve body building, in fact, I think many or most body builders do ENORMOUS damage to their body in the pursuit of the single minded goal of bulking up, not to mention stress injuries and other common sports injuries that are a risk factor in any athletic pursuit. I (Suzi) am not a physical trainer, but I have clocked several hours in Rehab medicine, assisted on many studies, read many protocols for treatment and do a lot of research. Therefore, I can say it is likely POSSIBLE to be a bodybuilder, maybe even a competitive one, and to be healthy while doing it. I don’t have the answer, but what I do know is that going vegan responsibly would go a LONG WAY to addressing some of the health concerns that would be generated by ingesting that much saturated fat, and animal protein.
Which brings me to the point of this article, YES it is possible to be a vegan body builder, much like it is possible to be all different kinds of professional athletes while living a vegan lifestyle. Being vegan does not make you weak, less able to work out, or less able to shred.
There are many websites dedicated to vegan athletes that focus on vegan body building:
Great Vegan Athletes focuses on some major athletic categories and features famous professionals and competitors in each category. It also hosts some skills and technique instruction and lists of vegan athletic supplements and foods.
VeganBodyBuilding is more like a social network for the vegan lifting community, featuring profiles from everything from fitness models to competitors and martial artists. This page also serves to post events, news and helpful articles to support an overall vegan fitness lifestyle, eventhough the main emphasis is on bodybuilding (and btw this includes BOTH MEN AND WOMEN!)
A few Vegans on the web:
Brian Turner Who has a fun upbeat personality, and lays out meal plans (with a whopping 4000 calories a day) and the seemingly standard “day of eating” videos that many bodybuilders post to demonstrate their regimens outside of the gym. In fact, if you look at Brian Turner before he went vegan and then after he went vegan you can see that not only was he eating more cleanly (ie more fruit and veg less processed and sat fats) but he clearly packed on MORE muscle, and he is sticking with the vegan diet for years now as you can see from his youtube channel.
Jon Venus is an inspiration. He turned his life around, chose fitness to recover from surgery, and then went vegan. Just watching a clip or two of his progress, shows you that he was body building for a couple years and then after going vegan he conquered a building plateau, packed on more good lean muscle, and maintains a really sculpted long and lean ripped physique.
Cory McCarthy is an incredibly articulate advocate with an impressively large physique. One of the key obstacles he takes on is the accusation that vegans can be all natural builders (ie they must used steroids) and he addresses this head-on. He also, like a few others, focuses on a holistic healthy lifestyle, which includes sexual health and lifestyle choices beyond food and gym routines.
Vegan Gains he makes a living by being a jerk. I find him hard to watch even when I’m agreeing with the things he is saying, or like the things behind what he is saying. His skill videos, and not his Worst of the Industry, are actually pretty good. I can sympathize because I’m sure as a young, ethical vegan, and a man of color, he found it very difficult to find role models in the fitness industry and so he had to carve a path for himself. He does a pretty good job of getting all these meat-eating-heads to take him on, which is well done, but he is also fairly divisive. So… Partial vegan victory?
Robert Cheeke The creator of the above Vegan Body Building website, is a prolific ethical vegan fitness icon, and building title holder. He writes in a very accessible way, although much of it now seems aimed at non-building fitness oriented or health concerns, he is active in vegan activism and generates a lot of good informational content to even competitive builders. Here is a good general muscle-building guide he wrote for a vegan blog.
So, as I was researching I kept hitting the proverbial cornucopia of vegan bodybuilders, and it kept going and going going….And frankly, not being a trainer or body builder I have no authority to tell you which are the best most ripped most competitive yadda…so I hit a limit, and below are a few more for you to look into yourself! PLEASE feel free to post links to additional builders and to supply additional info on these or other builders and I will incorporate it for anyone interested.