Vegan bodybuilding: can you get ripped on a plant-based diet?

Vegan bodybuilding: can you get ripped on a plant-based diet?


Thinking about embarking on a bodybuilding journey might conjure images of chugging raw eggs, chomping on bland boiled chicken, or savouring steak for breakfast. But what about those of us who prefer a plant-powered approach? Can you get ripped on a vegan diet?

What if we told you that you can gain muscle mass, lose fat, and increase your health benefits without consuming animal products?

Welcome to the world of vegan bodybuilding, where plants are your primary fuel source for sculpting a strong and lean physique. Whether you're looking to begin competitive bodybuilding or simply reduce body fat, change your body composition and get into the best shape of your life, this blog will help you to transform your body and your approach to nutrition, one vegan meal at a time.

Breaking Stereotypes

The idea that animal products are an essential source of protein in the muscle-building process is a myth. Research demonstrates that vegan protein supports muscle building as effectively as animal protein, with one study revealing that vegetarian and vegan athletes outperformed meat eaters. A vegan diet can provide all the necessary nutrients for muscle growth and repair. With careful planning and attention to macronutrients and protein intake, vegan bodybuilders can meet and exceed their fitness goals.

The Power of Plants

"You're vegan and you workout... how do you get enough protein?" - every gym bro, ever.

Well as you may already know, bodybuilding not only requires pumping iron in the gym. Nutrition plays a vital role. Many whole plant foods are high in protein and rich in antioxidants and should be included in a vegan bodybuilding diet. These include some of the following:

  • Legumes and beans: lentils, edamame and black beans are all excellent vegan sources of protein
  • Soy protein: such as tofu, tempeh and soy milk (which contains more protein than alternative plant-based milks like almond milk)
  • Grains: such as quinoa and brown rice
  • Seitan
  • Nuts and seeds

    A successful vegan bodybuilding diet will require including a variety of these foods to meet your protein requirements.


    An amazing thing about (healthy) vegan diets is their high nutrient density. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are bursting with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These will not only aid your muscle recovery but can enhance performance and endurance during workouts. By prioritising nutrient-rich foods, vegan bodybuilders can optimise their training and achieve peak physical condition.

    Balancing Macronutrients

    In addition to protein, carbohydrates and fats play important roles in fueling workouts and supporting muscle growth. Carbohydrates provide the energy needed for intense training sessions, while healthy fats aid in hormone production and nutrient absorption. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources of carbohydrates, while nuts, seeds, and avocados are rich in healthy fats. By carefully balancing these macronutrients, vegan bodybuilders can maintain energy levels and promote muscle recovery.

    Essential amino acids and their role in a bodybuilding vegan diet

    Essential amino acids play a key role in bodybuilding as they are the building blocks of muscle protein synthesis, a fundamental process for muscle growth and repair. These amino acids must be obtained through diet, and serve as precursors for anabolic processes and help in building muscle mass.

    On a vegan bodybuilding diet, you can consume the required amount of essential amino acids through a combination of plant-based protein sources. Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent sources of essential amino acids, particularly lysine. Soy products like tofu, tempeh, and edamame provide a complete protein containing all essential amino acids. Quinoa stands out as a complete protein grain, offering a balanced profile of amino acids. Nuts and seeds like almonds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds also contribute essential amino acids, especially when incorporated into meals and snacks. Additionally, whole grains like brown rice, oats, and barley complement legumes to form complete protein combinations.


    A well-planned vegan diet can provide all the necessary nutrients for optimal performance but can be time-consuming to maintain. This is where supplements come into play. Vegan protein powder (such as pea, rice, and hemp protein) is a great addition to your daily routine to help you get enough protein.

    You may also want to use supplements like creatine, BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), and vitamin B12. These all support muscle growth, recovery, and improve your overall health. Avoid whey protein powder brands as they include dairy products.

    If you're currently a meat eater and you're planning on switching to a plant-based diet, some great supplement brands that will help you with your transition include Athletic Greens and Health Xcel.

    Meal Planning

    A vegan bodybuilder's daily food intake requires some preparation to ensure you consume enough protein to support your gains. Plan meals and snacks ahead of time to help you stay on track and avoid relying on processed or convenience foods. Including a variety of plant-based proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in each meal can provide the essential nutrients needed for muscle building and recovery.

    Don't have time to meal plan, or think it's too much hassle? Sign up for a vegan bodybuilding meal plan. There are some amazing options out there, and the food will be delivered right to your door. 

    Training Strategies

    Now we've discussed the benefits of being vegan for bodybuilding, let's take a quick look at how training can transform your physique and help you gain muscle mass.

    Get yourself a well-designed workout program that includes resistance training, cardio, and flexibility work. Focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Consistency, progressive overload, and proper form are key principles for a successful vegan bodybuilder.

    Vegan bodybuilders

    Let's take a look at some real-life vegan bodybuilders who have broken the "need meat for muscle" stereotype and proved that vegan diets can create impressive results. Athletes like Patrik Baboumian, Nimai Delgado, and Torre Washingtonhave become some of the world's best bodybuilders without consuming animal products.

    Their stories show that a vegan diet not only makes gaining muscle possible, but is actually highly effective for achieving a ripped physique and optimal athletic performance.

    How much protein do vegan bodybuilders need a day?

    On a bodybuilding vegan diet, your protein requirements vary based on factors such as body weight, training intensity, how many calories you are consuming and of course, your personal goals. The general recommendation for protein intake among athletes (including bodybuilders looking to build muscle) ranges from 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (g/kg/day).

    For example, a vegan bodybuilder who weighs 70 kilograms (154 pounds) would need approximately 84-154 grams of protein per day, depending on their calorie intake.

    Try to make sure every meal has 30-40 grams of protein as sports nutrition experts advise this is the ultimate dose for optimal muscle protein synthesis.

    Vegan bodybuilding diet: meal examples

    When beginning your vegan bodybuilder diet, get creative! You can still eat all of your favourite meals, just swap the meat for vegan foods instead - there are some amazing options out there. If you're wondering what vegan meals to eat as you begin your bodybuilding diet, here are a few ideas.

    Vegan bodybuilding diet: Breakfast

    • Oatmeal with vegan protein powder, topped with frozen mixed berries and hemp seeds - recipe
    • Tofu scramble with mixed vegetables and whole grain toast - recipe
    • Chickpea flour pancakes with almond butter and fruit - recipe

      Vegan bodybuilding diet: Lunch

      • Quinoa and black bean salad - recipe
      • Tempeh stir-fry with brown rice - recipe
      • Vegan lentil chili with sweet potato - recipe

        Vegan bodybuilding diet: Dinner

        • Vegan chickpea curry with quinoa - recipe
        • Baked tofu with mixed vegetables, leafy greens and wild rice - recipe
        • Vegan lentil shepherd's pie - recipe

          Vegan bodybuilding diet: Snacks

          • Edamame guacamole with whole-grain toast
          • Vegan protein smoothie
          • Protein-packed trail mix

            Is becoming a vegan good for bodybuilders?

            There is no evidence that muscle is built more effectively on a vegan diet, but we do know that it's possible to build it just as effectively by eating plants instead of animals. With careful preparation and plenty of vegan protein sources, you can gain muscle, get ripped, and achieve your vegan bodybuilding goals. So, if you're considering going vegan and worried about losing gains, fear not - your muscles will thank you for making the switch!

            Looking for vegan gym wear? Check out the Apocalypse Club vegan gym tees and hoodies range here.

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