The Challenges of Being a Vegan Athlete

Strong vegan powerlifter

Recently, we spoke with Randy and Julia, both living in the Denver area. Randy is a powerlifter and Julia is a bodybuilder. Both are athletes and both have chosen the vegan lifestyle. While being a vegan athlete has it’s challenges, Randy and Julia have succeeded where others have failed. Because of their success, we thought it would be a great opportunity to speak with them and capture advice for our readers.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started lifting.

Julia: “I was born and raised in the Denver area and started working out with my dad when I was only 14. He always pushed me to compete in sports and hit the gym so I could be at the top of my game in competition by staying in shape. While I started out playing volleyball, I soon gravitated towards bodybuilding as I enjoyed seeing my muscles grow and working to improve my physique. When I was 19, I competed in my first bodybuilding competition and I’ve never looked back.”

Randy: “While I’m originally from a small town in Wisconsin, that changed when I joined the U.S. Army at the age of 17. From there, I traveled all over the world and started lifting weights with other soldiers. With a lot of time on our hands, we often would compete in the gym to see who could lift the most. I found that I had a natural ability to move large amounts of weight and that I really enjoyed deadlifts, squats, and bench press. Once I became a veteran after 8 years in the military, I chose to compete competitively in powerlifting competitions. I enjoy hiking and snowboarding as well, which is why I chose to move to Denver permanently.”

When and why did you begin a vegan diet?

Julia: “Ever since a young age, I always loved animals and although I came from a family that ate meat on a regular basis, it always felt wrong to me. I was around the age of 16 when I made the decision to lay off animal products and begin a vegan lifestyle. It took me a while to transform into a full-time vegan as it was a huge change for my body, but I am so glad I did it. I feel great and I look great.”

Randy: “I didn’t start preferring vegan foods and products until the end of my time in the military. It was around the time that I made the decision to become a powerlifter that I also decided to change another part of my lifestyle and go completely vegan. For me, although I found that were massive benefits to eating meats, I found it even more beneficial to eat vegan. It wasn’t what I expected, but I felt stronger and my personal records went up and up.”

What are some of your favorite vegan products and foods?

Julia: “I try to use as many natural food items as possible, so I eat foods such as potatoes, lentils, and chickpeas. And of course I eat lots of healthy vegetables as well! The greener, the better!”

Randy: “I find that it can be difficult to get all the necessary nutrients from vegan products. However, it’s not impossible! I find myself eating most of the food items that are popular with vegans, such as nuts, vegetables, and oats. However, I do use supplements every day to make sure I get the necessary protein so these muscles can grow. I like eating protein bars from the good! snacks brand as well as making protein shakes with vegan protein powder from Sprout Living. Sprouts’ Green Kingdom flavor is without a doubt my favorite.”

Do you foresee yourself staying vegan for the rest of your life?

Julia: “Absolutely. Eating vegan is a lifestyle just as much as bodybuilding is a lifestyle. I’ll do this ’til the day I die.”

Randy: “To put it simply, yes. I’m as strong as ever and I believe I can place some of the credit on my vegan diet. If for some reason my doctor were to tell me I need to quit, then obviously I would. However, I get routine exams and I’m as healthy as ever!”

Do you have any tips for our readers that may be on the fence about switching from meat protein to vegan protein?

Julia: “Just do it. You won’t regret it. You’ll not only feel great, but you’ll also know that you’re doing the right thing by sparing animals from being on the chopping block. By eliminating your need to eat chicken and cows, that’ll be less money in the hands of the meat industry. Instead, place tastier and healthier foods on your plate. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth it.”

Randy: “If you can’t handle it, take your time. If you’re used to eating 8 ounces of chicken a day, simply cut that in half and replace that meat protein with vegan protein. You can easily satisfy your taste buds and receive the necessary protein with a vegan product such as veggies and potatoes. Your muscles will thank you. The animals will thank you. After a while, you’ll be able to switch to a full vegan diet and you’ll never look back.”

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