Naturally when you think about bodybuilding, you think about protein, and when you think about protein, you think about meat.
However, you may be surprised to find there are actually a lot of champion bodybuilders, such as Kenneth Williams, Robert Hazeley and Patrick Baboumian who live on a vegan diet.
Amateur bodybuilder Kiran Dehal does not feature in competitions but has gone from 63kg to 93kg in three years, having also implemented a vegan diet into his regime one year ago.
I talk to the 20-year-old about the decision behind becoming vegan and how he has successfully adopted veganism into his lifestyle.
Why did you become a bodybuilder?
I was originally introduced to bodybuilding by a friend I went to school with when I was 17. He was very interested in it and invited me to train with him at a nearby bodybuilding gym. From these sessions I developed an appreciation which turned into a dedication then into a love for the process of bodybuilding.
What was your thinking behind turning vegan as a bodybuilder?
Looking at my diet I realised that the proteins I was getting in my diet also came with a lot of fat.
I found it was very difficult getting the toned and cut physique that I wanted.
After doing some research on vegan diets, and athletes who have followed them and thrived, I made the decision to transition into the lifestyle.
Ethical and environmental aspects also came into play through time but the main reason was health and cutting some fat from my diet.
Were there any differences you noticed when you became vegan?
Due to the fact that I was paying much more attention to what I was eating and was cautious to the potential negative effects of drastically changing my diet, I only gained positive effects from this.
I had more energy, less bloating and felt fresh and healthy, keeping my muscle and becoming more cut.
Is it any harder now getting the required protein you need to build muscle?
I have a big appetite and tailored my diet to keep a good amount of protein in it, so no.
I did my research into meals that would be suitable for me to eat and I now know what sort of foods I should be looking to include in my diet.
What do you now eat daily to get sufficient protein?
My diet now contains more beans, lentils and lagooms, I have switched my whey protein for a sunflower protein, although the taste isn’t as pleasant.
I’m cooking more of my own food so I know exactly what’s in it and keeping to a strict regimented diet.
Have you noticed any difference in the speed you build muscle since you became vegan?
I now find it much easier to cut than bulk which has both its benefits and setbacks, but overall I’m happy with the results.
What advice would you have for any bodybuilders who are thinking about becoming vegan?
Commit to it, do your research, plan ahead so you can be prepared for what’s about to come.
It won’t be too long until you don’t even notice being vegan and it all just comes naturally to you!