Sidebar to Vegan Lifter Project

What do you think of the proposition that being big and strong and meat-eating are such a package deal that, just on the surface, it seems odd and even incomprehensible that a large and muscular male (I don’t mean “fit” – truly large) might be a vegan?

Satish Sundarrajan

I know, right! What are the chances that one would arrive at veganism through religion? That being said, I think there’s plenty of religious motivation within philosophical Hinduism for one to be vegan (based on the concept of an all-pervading divine essence). It is indeed a matter of sadness and irony that most people in my community do not interpret the philosophy of Hinduism based on today’s reality anymore. Same with the Jains whose entire philosophy revolves around nonviolence, but they don’t see the problem with dairy.

I think the thought of being big and strong being associated with voracious omnivory is a well-justified proposition. Nutritionally speaking, meat is indeed more conducive for building muscle and size than plant food, as the amino acid responsible for building muscle is found in slightly larger quantities in animal protein than in plant protein. So vegans have to eat slightly more protein than non-vegans, adjusted for bodyweight, if muscle-building is one of your goals. Also, most vegans do not plan their diets properly and end up becoming deficient in several micronutrients.

Veganism is healthy (arguably the healthiest diet) only if you are eating a whole-food, well-planned diet and you have a healthy microbiome profile. And yes, a healthy vegan diet includes supplementation of certain micronutrients like vitamins B₁₂ and D3; DHA; EPA; and minerals like iodine if you’re not eating iodized salt or other sources of iodine.

As far as the differences between the White American and Hindu/Indic culture, there is a significant difference in how they approach pursuit of muscle-building and size. It’s almost like Hindu/Indic communities pride themselves on being average/skinnyfat when it comes to physical stature and any pursuit to become big and (powerlifting) strong is perceived as “extreme” – depending on your family, even actively discouraged. The only pursuit that matters to Indians in the West is to be academically accomplished. Or at least that has been my experience.

On the other hand, Americans (not just Whites) as a whole see being big and strong as nothing extreme and an acceptable, common pursuit.

Joe “Monk” Coleman

Well, I don’t think (obviously) that is a package deal. The biggest, strongest animals on the planet are plant-eaters. These myths have already been debunked.

Scott Shetler

It’s a misconception, and I understand why. The fitness and nutrition industry has been pushing a high-protein diet for a long time now and the idea is that the protein should come from animal sources as foods such as meat and eggs are “complete proteins” meaning they contain all essential amino acids. This is also the reason people feel that a plant-based diet is not optimal, particularly for athletes.

What they don’t understand is that the idea that we need to eat complete proteins at every meal is a myth and assumes we are only getting amino acids from one source. No one eats this way. People eat a variety of food sources, and as far as amino acids are concerned the body stores them after they are ingested and they are used as needed. As far as body mass it is not hard at all to gain size on a vegan diet. The individual simply must consume an appropriate amount of calories to gain weight, as well as enough protein, fat and carbohydrates to ensure muscle repair and growth.

However, it’s important to note that the amount of protein required is much less than the fitness industry, in particular protein-supplement manufacturers, want you to believe you need. The challenge with gaining size on a plant-based diet is whole-plant foods, while incredibly nutrient dense, tend to be calorie-sparse. It is important to include more calorie-dense foods to make gaining weight easier.

Outside of actual food sources I think there tends to be a “manly” fantasy around eating meat. It’s utterly ridiculous, but many lifters and strength enthusiasts tend to romanticize going to the gym and lifting weights as some sort of warrior pilgrimage to slay dragons.

Tobias Sjösten

I think, of course, that it’s complete bullshit – usually perpetuated by metrosexual guys in skinny jeans and perfectly trimmed moustaches, trying to live up to some prehistoric archetype of masculinity. Which takes its expression in buying neatly pre-cut meat pieces from the shopping mall. Ridiculous.

It’s further compounded by the fact that the general population have such poor understanding of nutrition, they’ll fall for whatever they’re told, like no meat = no protein = weakness = girly.

But, yeah, it’s a tricky question also because of how masculinity has developed in modern Western society. Social science shows that the more egalitarian a society becomes, the more extreme its gender roles are expressed. When you have that drive for expression, coupled with almost a taboo around traditional masculine roles, you get funny results. You get hipsters and carnivores.


I don’t think they’re a package deal. You can get fat eating anything, meat or vegetables.

Tobias (VeganLifter)

It’s because of iconic moments like Arnie in Pumping Iron guzzling steaks and eggs. That and similar images instilled it into people that the two are mutually exclusive. But we need to realize he took steroids, lived in the gym, had tremendous discipline, and trained his ass off. And he could have been guzzling beans and rice and made equally impressive gains. In fact, the only differences are he would have saved money, been healthier and probably taken some easier dumps.

Richard Arsenault

Yeah, I agree that for a lot of people they think of a vegan as skinny, but they are starting to see that you can be big and vegan. More people will start realizing that it’s not the truth, you can be an unhealthy vegan you can be a fat vegan… any shape or size can be a vegan, just the same as a meat eater. It’s just another misconception.


I think it’s just a horrible mindset made by IFBB pro bodybuilders and magazines. People think meat makes them big, while in reality it’s genetics that determines that at the end of the day.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2018.11.29 13:39. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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