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The Rise of Vegan Bodybuilding

The Rise of Vegan Bodybuilding

Professional bodybuilding often comes with serious physical implications — high stress on bones and joints, grueling workouts and high-calorie, high-protein diets that are less similar to your typical breakfast/lunch/dinner and more reminiscent of a tiger gorging on an entire antelope. But an increasing number of bodybuilders reject the conception of what a serious weight-lifter “must” eat and are forging a new path into vegetarian– and even veganbodybuilding.

Mary Pilon of the New York Times recently delved into the world of vegan bodybuilding, asking Jimi Sitko about his lifestyle and why he chooses to live simultaneously as a vegan and an elite athlete. She writes, “Jimi Sitko gets up at 4 most mornings, works out two to four hours a day and can bench-press nearly twice his weight [...] but what is most surprising is what is inside Sitko’s stomach: tofu, fresh greens, and protein powder.”

As Sitko, and the nearly 5,000 registered users of, demonstrate, it is possible to be a vegan bodybuilder — but it is tough to get enough of the protein essential for building huge muscles and mind-boggling strength. Vegan bodybuilders cannot rely solely on natural sources of protein such as rice and beans and peanut butter, as they would have to eat literally tons of these foods in order to absorb sufficient quantities of protein. Vegan protein powder and hemp-based protein supplements are key to the success of an aspiring vegan bodybuilder.

My question is: why would anyone want to put themselves through the extra challenge of being a vegan bodybuilder? Bodybuilding is difficult; veganism is difficult. The two together are nearly impossible. But Sitko and others like him are dedicated to both lifestyles and are unwilling to compromise on either end. For some, the extra challenge may be part of the fun.

I was a vegetarian for about a year during high school, but since then I have not experimented with restricted eating in any form. I sometimes view my athleticism as an excuse to eat anything I want (probably not a healthy attitude!) and I admire the discipline of athletes who perform at a high level and are conscious of what they eat.

Are you vegetarian or vegan? How has it affected your exercise habits? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Photo credit: greg westfall

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2:12AM PST on Feb 9, 2015

Thanks for good blog. This is most attractive for all and sundry. Have big thanks!
build muscle burn fat

9:58PM PST on Feb 4, 2013

Bradford: vegan food does not take more time or effort to be prepared at all! Just put a variety of fruits in a blender, fruits alone have everything! Sorry I cannot help you with sites with vegan recipes, since English is not my mother language I don't know any, just google "vegan recipes"!
When you quit eating meat and anything from animals, you feel a lot better a shotr time after, that is your body telling you how much it needs meat and milk. And how logical it is for humans to drink milk for calf.

5:44AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Not for me ...I wear leather shoes,,,,,

1:46PM PST on Jan 31, 2013

I'm interested, & would like to go vegan, but so far one of the hurdles is that to prepare vegetarian foods seem to take a lot more time & effort.

With a busy schedule, sometimes it's a choice of eating the old diet or going hungry because of time constraints.

Can someone recommend web sites with good tasting simple recipies for a newbie? Thanks.

1:41PM PST on Jan 31, 2013

Hugh W

If you've never tried it & are not interested in it, then why are you posting here?

5:28AM PST on Jan 31, 2013

This is something i want to do

5:47AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

6:48PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

thanks for sharing! ^o^

5:34AM PST on Feb 16, 2012


That's awesome that your asthma is better. There was a study in Britain where about 24 people with asthma went vegan for a year. By the end of the year, 22 of them experienced significant reduction in the frequency and severity of their asthma attacks. So I wouldn't be surprised if your improved asthma and vegan diet were related. Most animal products are pro-inflammatory, and dairy products are mucus producing. Best of luck in the future.

4:02AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

i decided to go vegan about two years ago for health/ethical reasons. i went for an asthma check up the other day, not only has my asthma gone into remission but i was told i am well above average health wise. not sure if they are related, but i've never felt better.

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