Can you still get BIG while on a vegan diet?

Calling all athletes, bodybuilders, and gym rats alike – if you’re getting bored with your diet of meat, meat, and more meat, but are constantly worried about losing muscle mass without it, we’ve compiled a list of protein packed alternatives that’ll keep you meat-free, dairy-free, and nutrient-full. The best part? No meat doesn’t mean no muscles. You’ll be forgetting in no time that you ever thought meat was the only way to get your daily fix.

I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “How am I supposed to gain muscle on a diet full of vegetables?” And you’re right, you probably wouldn’t – they hold hardly any caloric content. That’s why vegans include beans, lentils, grains, nuts, seeds, and meat alternatives in their diets to go along with all the vegetables. This way, vegans are just as capable of gaining muscle as someone who’s chowing down on chicken, steak, and pork all day – plus you’ll be chock-full of fiber and all sorts of vitamins and nutrients. 

It’s not a secret that meat substitutes have had a bad rep for years, but for no reason! Tofu, tempeh, and seitan can taste just as good as meat if prepared the right way. Seitan has been dubbed the best tasting meat alternative out there, and it packs a punch with 75 grams of protein per 100 grams. There are seitan burgers, tacos, ribs – the options are endless. Lentils and beans are also amazing ways to get the protein you need. One cup of boiled lentils gives you 18 grams of protein, while other beans typically give you anywhere from 12-14 grams per cup. Throw a cup of boiled lentils (18 grams of protein), a half cup of seitan (31.5 grams of protein), a cup of chopped broccoli (2.6 grams of protein), and a side of mixed nuts (27 grams of protein) onto your dinner plate and you’ve got just under 80 grams of protein in one meal.

Don’t get us started on the world of protein supplement options. Soy, pea, and hemp protein are all complete proteins, which make them a great substitute for whey based protein powders. They’re packed with the same amounts of protein without all the fat and cholesterol. Pea protein is great for increasing muscle thickness, is also cholesterol-free, and is easy to digest. Hemp protein is packed with Omega-3s and fills just about half your daily fiber requirement in one serving.

Being aware of your levels of iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12 is important. Many vegans can lack in these departments if they aren’t consuming the right foods. Spinach, kale, and collard greens are great for supplying iron and calcium to your body while nuts and seeds supply your body with zinc (and protein, remember?) There are also hundreds of supplements that can help you out as well.

When someone hears the word “vegan” the absolute last thing to come to mind is muscle, but we’re here to change that. If you’re still doubtful of all the benefits, just ask the hundreds of athletes and bodybuilders who have already made the switch and are absolutely loving it. 

Always consult with your doctor before going on a new
diet or exercise regemine.