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Is It Possible To Be A Vegan Bodybuilder?

Is It Possible To Be A Vegan Bodybuilder

A question that keeps cropping up…

Is It Possible To Be A Vegan Bodybuilder? 

Veganism is taking the world by storm as more and more people are opting to eradicate not only meat, but also eggs, dairy products and other animal derived substances. 

The reasons for people opting for a vegan lifestyle can be vast, however a couple of the main reasons are…

  1. Improving Health 
  2. Ethics – lots of people feel uncomfortable about eating animal products and believe it to be morally wrong

Both reasons are valid, BUT when it comes to bodybuilding, a sport which has always been known to be a BIG meat eating profession (due to athletes requiring lots of protein to build muscle) – is it possible to cut out animal products and still be a bodybuilder?

Is It Possible To Be A Vegan Bodybuilder? 

Vegan Bodybuilder | LEP Fitness

#1 Protein & Bodybuilding 

There’s not doubt about it, in order to become a successful bodybuilder you need to consume an adequate amount of protein each day in order to build muscle.

Protein is absolutely imperative  because it helps you to get bigger, stronger and a more aesthetically pleasing physique. It’s very difficult to build a physique without protein, unless the person is either genetically gifted or is using performance enhancing drugs like steroids. 

Although experts differ in opinions as to how much protein a bodybuilder should consume each day, the general consensus is around 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, with even more potentially being consumed depending on the athlete. 

Let’s say a person weighs 200lbs (90kg), that means they would need to be eating between 200-300g of protein per day. A 200lb bodybuilder is light, most of the Mr Olympia Bodybuilders weigh a lot more. For example, 7x Mr Olympia Winner – Phil Heath is reported to weigh between 110kg during a contest and 125kg off season.

So for a top bodybuilder their protein intake could exceed 350g of protein per day! Ok, so what’s the point in telling us this? 

The point is this…

That’s a very high amount of protein, ok not all bodybuilders need this amount, but to be the best they do. In order to be a top bodybuilder and consume this amount of protein you would seriously struggle doing so as a vegan – it just wouldn’t be possible and that’s one of the reasons there’s never been a Vegan who’s won Mr Olympia. 

Whilst I understand that most of you (probably all of you!) reading this don’t want to be the next Mr Olympia – I’m just trying to prove a point that being a successful vegan bodybuilder is going to be harder than a meat eating bodybuilder. That said there are lots of vegan bodybuilders, fitness models, and athletes who have incredible physiques, let’s take a look…

#2 Vegan Bodybuilders 

Vegan Bodybuilders | LEP Fitness

Images taken from Great Vegan Athletes Website. 

The good news for vegans is that it’s possible to become a vegan athlete and successfully compete. For example there’s Nimai Delgado, Jehina Malik, Karl Bruder – to name but a few. Check out this post to read more about the Top 18 Vegan Bodybuilders.

It’s reassuring to see top vegan athletes and bodybuilders, and it’s definitely possible to become a professional, however like I said earlier, it’s unlikely that you’re going to become the best, compared to a meat eating bodybuilder. 

Also, whilst I have no proof (it’s just my opinion!) When I look at some of the Top Vegan atheltes/bodybuilders lots of them look to be on performance enhancing drugs. Whilst bodybuilding is rife with performance enhancing drugs in general (especially in the Olympia) it can be very misleading to people out there who look up to their idols but lack the awareness that the person they look up to is taking drugs.

Lots of people have no idea about the drug abuse in bodybuilding – It’s pretty obvious with the Mr Olympia contestants (they look like freaks!), but not so obvious in smaller bodybuilding categories like ‘Mens Physique’ where the guys are nowhere near as big, but most (probably all!) still take drugs to improve performance. 

So be careful and cautious, when you see a bodybuilder (vegan or not) with a crazy physique – most times they are on performance enhancing drugs (Not always!) BUT if their physique looks freakish – like the incredible hulk then 9x out of 10 they are taking a banned substance. 

Whilst most people in the bodybuilding industry are aware of performance enhancing drugs, those on the outside looking in are not, and it can be misleading. People look up to their idols and think “I can look just like that!” – but in reality they have no idea about the drug abuse of the person they idolise. 

Without going to scientific, people on steroids find it much easier to build muscle on a bulking cycle, and also maintain muscle whilst trying to lean down for a show. When an athlete uses drugs like this, it gives them a considerable advantage compared to a natural and unassisted person. This means that a vegan on steroids is going to be much more likely to be able to build muscle than a vegan who’s not on steroids.

For those of you out there who are new to bodybuilding and want to be a vegan bodybuilder be cautious as to which vegan bodybuilders you trust. 

#3 Vegan Protein Choices 

Ok, so we know meat and animal products are out of the question, how else can you get enough protein in? 

Like I said earlier, it’s going to be harder, and you won’t be easily able to consume over 200g of protein per day, but It can still be done. Here are some good vegan protein foods…

  • Tofu 
  • Lentils 
  • Spelt 
  • Wild Rice 
  • Hempseed 
  • Quinoa 
  • Chia Seeds 
  • Soy Milk 
  • Oats  
  • Nuts Spreads

You could also buy a vegan protein powder – check out this post The 9 Best Vegan Protein Powders

You will definitely have to be more creative and it will be far harder getting in your protein for the day, but it can be done. 


So let’s go back to the question…

Is It Possible To Be A Vegan Bodybuilder? 

In short the answer is YES. You can become a vegan bodybuilder, however how successful you can become remains to be seen. It’s pretty safe to say that you can’t be the best bodybuilder in the world without eating meat. I doubt that there will ever be a vegan Mr Olympia – it just wont happen (unless some other protein replacement drug is designed!). 

That said if you want to compete as a vegan, then go for it. You could still do very well and have an excellent career. Just be aware of the limitations of being a vegan when it comes to building muscle, and improving performance. It’s much harder. You will need to be creative with your food choices, be super disciplined and work harder than most in order to excel – but if that’s your decision then go for it and don’t look back. 

What are your thoughts on vegan bodybuilding? It would be great to hear what you think – comment below…

Thanks for reading, 

fitness blogger | the best fitness blog | LEP Fitness

Nick 🙂