There has been a lot of news this summer touting the benefits of eating vegan for an athletic edge. Whether it’s ultra runners like Scott Jurek who have been winning races as a dedicated vegan for years or professional NFL players eager to improve their health and their performance, these athletes help build a simple yet powerful narrative: removing animal products from your diet not only improves health but can also give you an athletic boost.
This concept is hardly new. Vegan athletes have been competing — and winning — competitions for decades. Just look at former track and field athlete and nine gold medal Olympian Carl Lewis who attributes the best performances in his career to making the switch to a vegan diet.
That’s why for many of us, news of a team of vegan bodybuilders, known as Plant Built, taking home first place trophies in five out of seven categories at a recent competition in Texas, comes as no surprise. But, in the world of bodybuilding, where protein consumption pretty much means eating animal products — lots and lots of animal products — these vegan victories are setting new and powerful precedents.
Founded in 2012, Plant Built’s mission is not just focused on the sport. According to its website, “As a collective we live, train, compete, and educate in our communities, showing the success of compassionate Veganism.”
Plant Built team member Ed Bauer explained in a recent interview with COK that as owner of Portland-based PlantFit training studio, he sees firsthand how vegan eating can help anyone achieve their fitness goals — and the idea is gaining ground.
“The “Plant-Based Whole Foods” movement is growing rapidly, and we’ll see more veg-friendly fitness and health-based businesses popping up,” confirmed Bauer. And in terms of getting protein, Bauer suggests “building meals around tempeh, beans, legumes, tofu, seitan, or vegan protein powder, add in some kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, chard, collards, asparagus, green beans, mixed greens, or zucchini, then top it with some walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, coconut, or avocado.”
Inspired by these bodybuilding athletes? Consider joining them! The Plant Built team is recruiting new members and plans to compete in the 2014 Naturally Fit Games. Visit PlantBuilt.com to learn more.