We are constantly hearing about the importance of protein for bodybuilding and fitness however, much of the time this solely refers to animal meat protein which is hailed as the ultimate and unparalleled source. How biased of us! Check out these vegan bodybuilders and fitness competitors who are setting out to defy the myths surrounding vegetarian and vegan diets in the bodybuilding industry and proving to us all that meat isn't always king!
Age: 38 Height: 5’7” Weight: 55kg
Monica Parodi was involved in sports since childhood but had to re-prioritise and put sport on the back burner when she had children. She first became vegan after a cancer scare motivated her to pursue a healthier lifestyle. After adopting the vegan diet Monica says she no longer craves meat and feels ill whenever she does eat meat! A typical diet for Monica consists of 6-8 small meals a day (varying depending on training intensity) sticking to 75% raw foods, smoothies and shakes. For supplements she mainly uses 'superfoods' and raw vegan protein products and claims that her diet means she is fatigued as it facilitates full recovery from extreme workouts. Due to the time restrictions of being a mother she strives to make every minute of training count and opts for high intensity workouts to maximise the time. Workout routines include Insanity, Asylum and yoga accompanied by outdoors activities such as hiking and biking on days off. Monica says that being vegan is a challenge due to the misconceptions surrounding it but wants to help educate the public and dispel negative myths about vegans being nutrient deficient and extremists. She says you can’t have optimum health without fitness and these is nothing more important than your health and aÂ fitter lifestyle has allowed her to be more productive in other areas of her life, as well as improving her general mood and confidence.
Monica’s Advice for new vegan athletes: "Stick to plant based foods. There are a lot of vegan, processed, junk foods that will compromise your performance."
Monica’s Motto: “I train like a man and never give up or back off. Fitness is not about looks – it’s about HEALTH.”
Age: 23 Height: 5’1” Weight: 50kg
Amanda is a personal trainer, nutritionist and gymnastics coach. Her nutrition programme is strict with the added challenge of having to avoid gluten and peanuts due to allergies but she exercises the most discipline with her portion sizes and meal timings with typical meals involving a lot of oats, vegetables, protein powders, coconut oil and tofu. ForÂ supplements those she uses most regularly are Aloe vera, probiotics, flaxseed oil, garlic and vitamins. Amanda splits training into five days of weight training working one muscle group at a time alongside six days of cardio (with some gymnastics also thrown in to the mix)! For her the most critical part of training is maintaining consistency, commitment, hard work and self discipline. She says without full commitment, there are too many things that will get in the way and disrupt your progress however if you commit and dedicate yourself fully then you will succeed. Her favorite thing about being vegan is the cleansed feeling and amazing improvements in energy and healthy skin!
Amanda’s Advice for new vegan athletes: "Educate yourself as much as possible via books, guides, documentaries, role models etc so that you are 100% emerged in the vegan lifestyle and can make your own educated decisions about it." Amanda’s Motto: “You need to give it your all everyday whilst building inner and outer strength in order to be the best you can be.”
Age: 34 Height: 5’7” Weight: 80kg
Torre Washington first became interested in the bodybuilding world whilst living in Jamaica and starting to work out around the age of 15 becoming interested in veganism as a way to do something different from everyone else. His typical competition prep diet consists of protein shakes, protein bars, oatmeal, peanut butter, rice, tofu and vegetables.Â In order to help his training and maintain physique Torre uses Noni juice and soy protein shakes for supplementation. Typically Torre works out 4/5 days a week varying weight training between muscle areas and included some sprinting. His main frustrations with being vegan are the misconceptions that they are malnutritioned and can’t get enough protein which isn’t the case at all. However he gets the most satisfactions out of enjoying the challenge of eating healthily and achieving the vegan diet where many people can’t. Torres says that he has rarely been ill since he started the vegan diet and can’t even remember what it even feels like to be ill anymore!
Torre’s Advice for new vegan athletes: “Never quit, always stick to it, it is hard in the beginning but take your time and learn how to eat properly.”
Torre’s Motto: “The most critical aspect of fitness is health and consistency but always keep pushing yourself to the limits.”
Age: 30 Height: 5’11” Weight: 84kg
Jimi Sitko participates in natural bodybuilding and first became interested in fitness whilst living in a rough neighbourhood making the decision to build muscle as a form of self-defence. After his love for bodybuilding developed he began the vegan diet for general health and to lose stubborn body fat. The deciding factor in adopting for Jimi was when he read about how animals are treated on farms and how disrespectfully they are slaughtered.Â His typical diet is strict and he sticks to avoiding meat, dairy, eggs, any foods with hydrogenated oils, high fructose foods and gelatin.Â To help achieve optimum results he uses L-Glutamine, L-Arginine and Glucosamine supplements to help with recovery and joint health as well as vegan protein powders. In order to keep motivated during training and to prevent plateauing, Jimi rotates his workouts every few months focusing on mixing compound with total body exercises. To Jimi it is key is to enjoy working out. “You have to love doing it in order to get the most out of it and see the best results.” His favorite part of being a vegan is being different to everyone else, the interest it sparks when people find out, and the pride in knowing that the meals he eats hasn't harmed any animals.
Jimi's Advice for new vegan athletes: “Make sure to educate yourself on the lifestyle so that you are doing it for the right reasons and make sure both the exercise and diet are correct for you personally as each individual will have different requirements. Be patient and take time achieving your goals.”
Jimmi’s Motto: “Strength comes from dedication. If you start a programme - finish it - whether that is exercising or dieting. And always to strive for improvement.”
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