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May 27, 2020 9 min read

Want to know the secret to becoming GREAT at anything you put your mind to? Really, it’s possible. It’s not about natural talent or your IQ score. It’s not about luck or money. The secret to becoming great is to  have strong role models

When you’re just starting out at a new hobby, or if you’re just trying to take an existing one to the next level, finding out who’s the best of the best will be your greatest advantage. Find out who’s doing it the best. Read all you can about them and study their moves to learn what made them succeed. Find their email and contact them personally if you have to! Just learn what you can from them. 

Bodybuilding is no different and there are lots of inspirational pros who really know what they’re doing. If you narrow the bodybuilding niche a little further you can find plenty of vegan bodybuilding athletes who can serve as role models who fuel their careers with whole foods. 

What’s the Advantage of Learning about Vegan Bodybuilders?

As you’ve probably learned by now, strength building isn’t just about lifting weights. To build muscle and get seriously ripped you have to combine your strength training with the right nutrition. Those who stay committed to their principals come out even stronger because of  mental dedication.

And that’s where role models can help...

Sometimes it’s just to motivate yourself one day when it’s particularly hard to get up early and go to the gym. Sometimes it’s to spur you on to cook a healthy meal instead of eating a bunch of unhealthy food. 

The advantage of learning about vegan bodybuilders is to prove that building muscle while only eating plants can be done.

Here are 7 vegan bodybuilders you can model on your path to success. 

1. Jimi Sitko

Hailing from Huntsville, Alabama, Jimi Sitko has competed in multiple non-drug tested weightlifting competitions and has placed in the top three in every one. In his hometown, he won first place in the Open Middleweight division. Beloved by America because of his training in the American Ninja Warrior, he’s got a fun personality and a great body. 

Some days he lifts heavy weights, while other days he runs or bikes for several miles to change it up and give his muscles the rest they need in between weightlifting sessions. 

But more than that, he’s also dedicated to the vegan diet lifestyle.

He started reading about veganism in 2007, where he researched more and more about the practice of preparing meat and dairy for grocery stores. He didn’t like the way so many animals are kept in small cages and force-fed to eat hormone-infused food to grow abnormally large without getting proper exercise. It just didn’t sit right with him. So he gradually moved to veganism and is now 100% vegan. 

Here are some habits of Jimi Sitko to model:

  • He gets up at 4 am every day to work out. 
  • He doesn’t eat meat or dairy products. 
  • He’s active in the community to help others train and reach their strength goals. 


Effects of a Vegan Lifestyle on the Body

A vegan lifestyle is known to have great results on the body and support overall health. Many people report that since adopting a plant-based diet they have a stronger immune system, their minds feel fresher and happier, and they’re feeling stronger in their weightlifting sessions. 

Jimi Sitko reported these positive results on several different public interviews. He’s a big advocate of a vegan diet and not only shares his knowledge but also the incredible results his lifestyle choice provides. 

2. Kenneth G. Williams

Following a vegan diet since 2000, Kenneth Williams has won many championships, including the World National bodybuilding Championship in Sacramento.

Here are a few reasons he stopped eating meat and dairy products:

  • Spiritual reasons: He decided he needed a change in his mental and spiritual goals. He needed to have complete control over his actions and decisions, and that included his diet. He decided to stop eating animal protein and move over to plant protein as a result of that. 
  • Health: As a bodybuilder, he wanted to optimize his health in the best possible way. Bodybuilding puts a lot of strain on your long-term health. Working out for several hours a day is hard on your joints, knees, shoulders, tendons, etc. Of course, keeping all your muscles toned, stretched, and strong can help you live a long healthy life, but the effects of extreme weight lifting are hard on the body. Maintaining a healthy diet through your youth and old age is the best way to ensure that your body won’t get worn out and tired too soon. 
  • Animal rights: Williams told Organic Athlete that the ones without a voice are often the ones who need to be listened to. Often in life, the ones who are the most powerful are the ones who are the least ready to understand the weak. Williams sets a good example to always look out for those who are weaker than you and give them your protection. 

3. Denise Nicole

This vegan bodybuilder has come a long way. She started out in a family of meat-eaters with a lot of health problems including high blood pressure and diabetes.

In the early years of her life, she adopted her family’s dietary values, assuming that it was just the way things were. She was led to believe that these health conditions were hereditary and that they’d be coming for her too. 

After some time she awakened to the fact that our food choices determine the outcome of our health and happiness and she began researching the vegan diet. As she trained and became stronger and stronger, she started adopting the vegan lifestyle. After getting into  vegan bodybuilding and she is happily competing in national championships and working as a model. 

Her diet: She’s published her calorie count for off-season and on-season. Off-season she consumes around 1600 calories per day, while on-season (during contests and modeling shoots), she ends up around 1200 calories. Because of the modeling, her calorie intake is quite low. She mentioned that she weighs about 104 pounds. 

It takes a lot of courage to break habits that you grew up with and Nicole is a good example of someone who understood that she doesn’t have to keep doing things the way she always had before.

Life is about knowing what you want and not letting anyone stop you. So don’t be afraid to shed bad habits and build new, stronger, healthier habits that will get you where you want to go in life. 

A strong man.

4. Robbie Hazeley

Robbie Hazely was a championship bodybuilder who went vegan in 1989. Prior to that he weighed 224 pounds and was eating meat, fish, eggs, and all the animal protein he could find and it came at a cost to his body. After tearing several ligaments, multiple times he was in a lot of pain and suffering from arthritis. He endured several operations and couldn’t get through the day without pain killers. 

Finally, he met up with a friend who owned a gym and happened to be a vegan. This friend convinced him of the health benefits of veganism and got him to give the diet a try. Hazeley started out with the vegetarian diet and then progressed to veganism just a little while after that. 

As a result, he totally recovered from his injuries! He was quickly able to go back to his previous lifestyle of lifting and enjoying days free of pain killers. In 1994, at age 39, he went back to competing and won second place in the Mr. England competition, and 6th in the Mr. UK competition. These are just a couple of highlights. There were many more competitions, many more wins, and a strong immune system

In the early nineties, veganism was not as popular as it is now and it took a lot of guts for Hazeley to make the switch. The condition his body was in after years of training drove him to make a drastic change for the sake of saving his career, but props to him for believing in its ability and giving it a try. 

5. Andrea White

This vegan bodybuilder is not only vegan but also a raw vegan. As a long-time fitness instructor and dietician, she’s always been passionate about healthy eating and fitness. She graduated with a degree in fitness and has always felt her responsibility to encourage her community to participate in health events and to stay healthy. 

She actually started out as a dancer. She danced through high school and college and won a lot of competitions doing that. When she advanced her career even further, she started working as a professional trainer and entered bodybuilding competitions. That became her true love and she dedicated her life to competing and training others to compete. She won the very first two competitions she participated in! 

All her life she loved animals, especially cats, and after quite some time of hearing all the cruelties that go on to propel the meat industry, she gave up meat and dairy products forever. Recently, she took a step beyond that and decided to eat all raw food - fruits and veggies - for good. She claims that she doesn’t take any supplements but that vegetables and smoothies, whole foods, are all she needs. 

It’s certainly possible to be a vegan bodybuilder on a diet of just fruits and vegetables because many vegetables contain a lot of protein, especially spinach, kale, mustard greens, and other leafy greens. 

No matter what lifestyle you follow it takes dedication to structure a weekly meal plan. For those who still have a career or family on top of their bodybuilding goals, a daily  protein powder supplement or a protein shake can go a long way towards making your goals more achievable. 

If you're looking to really increase your muscle mass with plants, cooking up some lentils, quinoa, or soy protein like tempeh is a great idea.

6. Dominick Thompson

This vegan bodybuilder is also an ironman triathlete. When asked by PETA if transitioning to the vegan diet was difficult, he told them that he feels so passionate about the issue that making the switch wasn't hard at all. 

Many years ago, Thompson was in prison putting a lot of thought into his life until that point. He had some existential realizations. One of them was the fact that he was contributing to a billion-dollar industry that put poison into innocent bodies and then sold it for profit. He realized he needed to make a big change. After that, he committed to stop using animal products to fuel his body but to fill it with only natural, healthy plant protein sources. 

Thompson helps put to rest the stereotypical image of a vegan and shows the world that veganism can be for everyone and you can make the diet work for you no matter where you are in your life. 

For those who are focused on bulking, eating large quantities of brown rice, chickpeas, and quinoa will really help you load your body up with whole grains and plant foods.

A strong man.

7. Nimai Delgado

He’s never eaten meat his whole life. He shared his background with Plant Based News, with details of how he came through his vegetarian diet journey to switch to veganism. As a mechanical engineer, his entire career was based on developing machines to create better efficiency and smoother processes. 

He had always considered giving up dairy, but had always thought it was fine to eat it since the animals weren’t being killed to produce their milk and eggs. When his mom showed him a video of the terrible living conditions where these animals existed, he realized the meat industry in America isn’t fostering happy chickens and cows that roam free in the fields and then turn in for milking time in the evening. 

They’re usually  kept in tight spaces with little room to move, let alone breathe fresh air and forced to produce way more than they should naturally be expected to put out. He thought about all the machines and contraptions the animals get hooked to, and realized guys and girls like him, engineers, are contributing their skills and talents to this industry. 

He decided he wouldn’t contribute to that industry anymore and quit eating dairy products after that. He still maintains his intense bodybuilding and promotes it adamantly on his Instagram page. 

Prime Examples of Vegan Food to Boost Your Muscle Growth

If these 7 vegan bodybuilders haven't inspired your muscle-building journey, we don't know what will! For additional examples of great ingredients for whole foods that will jump-start your bodybuilding career, here are some valuable examples:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Walnuts
  • Flax Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Avocado
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Seitan

Remember to keep a varied diet, experiment with recipes that you like, and don't be afraid to consult a nutritionist to make sure you are getting enough calories and all your essential amino acids to make up the macronutrients your body needs to be getting   enough plant-based protein