Vegan Bodybuilding is NOT an Oxymoron

This is a guest post by my friend, Robert Cheeke. Ever since I saw Robert for the first time, I’ve been amazed at how well he manages to build quality muscle using plant-only foods. Robert is a vegan bodybuilder who is out to spread the truth about a plant-based diet and change our perceptions about the options we have available to us to build lean muscle.

In this article you can learn straight from Robert about how to use your diet to get ripped whilst eating extremely healthy foods that will promote well-being and yes – help to keep disease and illness away. Sound like a good dea? Read on…

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by Robert Cheeke

If there is a question vegans hear more than any other, it is, “How do you get your protein?” I often respond by asking the individual if they know anyone with a protein deficiency. Protein is found in nearly all foods and they are abundant in seeds, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and other plant-based foods.

Robert Cheeke Bodybuilding
Robert Cheeke Bodybuilding

In North America, we are taught from a young age to believe that the only good sources of protein come from animals. This is simply not true. In fact, it is proven by scores of scientific studies that plant-based sources of protein are easier for the human body to digest and absorb. Plus, plant-based foods do not come with many of the negative health implications associated with a diet rich in animal protein such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Another advantage of plant-based foods is that they help promote an alkaline environment in the body. All animal protein is acid-forming, whereas most plant protein is alkaline forming. Essentially, an alkaline diet is the exact opposite of the high protein, high fat, low carb diets that have recently been in vogue. Because our body’s ideal pH is slightly alkaline, our diets should reflect this and also be slightly alkaline. A diet high in acidic foods such as animal protein, sugar, caffeine, and processed foods tends to deplete the body of alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, making us more susceptible to chronic and degenerative disease.


Though a vegan diet is often a topic of concern when it comes to athletic performance, those concerns are unwarranted. As a vegan bodybuilder, I compete in a sport dominated by meat eaters, most of whom scoff at the idea that one could get sufficient protein from plants to be competitive. I do not consume any animal products whatsoever, not even dairy or eggs. Instead, I focus on eating a wide variety of plant-based whole foods. My protein comes primarily from hemp, tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts, seeds, grains, rice, fruits, and vegetables. By getting my protein from a wide variety of sources, I am ensuring my body receives a balance of essential amino acids.

Though I try to get as much protein as possible from whole foods, I often supplement with plant-based protein powders to help me meet my target of 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight for building muscle mass. My favorite protein powder source is hemp. In addition to being rich in complete protein, it is also a great source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and chlorophyll.

Hemp protein is a quality source of arginine, histidine, methionine, and cysteine and also contains all the branched-chain amino acids crucial for repair and growth of lean body mass. Furthermore, almost two-thirds of hemp protein is comprised of edestin, a protein found only in hemp and the form of protein most similar to that of the human body. Hemp protein is also very easily digested and assimilated, making it one of the finest sources of protein in the plant kingdom.

Other great commonly available plant-based protein powders include yellow pea, brown rice, and soy. Though soy protein has been a staple in my diet for years, I have recently reduced my consumption of it because I am concerned about developing food sensitivities and/or allergies. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental to overall health, and my feeling is that soy is becoming overly pervasive in vegan and vegetarian diets. There are so many good alternatives such as hemp, pea, rice, and flax that I feel I don’t need to rely on just soy protein powder anymore.

When I am on the run and don’t have time to prepare a meal, I take a complete plant-based whole food meal replacement called Vega. Formulated by Brendan Brazier, a professional Ironman triathlete and fellow vegan, Vega is a quick and easy way for me to get quality nutrition. It contains many of my favorite foods, including hemp, pea, flax, rice, chlorella, and maca; and I especially like the fact that it contains five sources of quality protein, ensuring a balanced array of essential amino acids. I also snack on Vega energy bars before and after workouts for an extra boost.

Keep in mind that a high protein diet can be taxing on the liver and kidneys so it is important to drink a lot of water (I personally drink over a gallon a day as often as possible) to help the body’s organs process the large amounts of protein. The great thing about plant protein is that it is much easier to digest and assimilate than animal protein, making the body’s job easier and providing a greater nutritional yield. I also recommend eating smaller meals more frequently to ensure your muscles will always be fueled and nourished, providing the best opportunity for recovery, growth, and achieving your desired results.

As a vegan bodybuilder, I want to show others that it is possible to gain significant muscle and strength on a vegan diet, and I want to inspire others to follow this lifestyle. I love being vegan and knowing that I am having a positive impact on our society and culture. I believe that a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health and the well-being of our environment.

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Robert Cheeke is a competitive bodybuilder and the 2005 and 2009 INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Champion. He is also President and founder of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, a company dedicated to supporting natural vegan bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. Check out his website at www.veganbodybuilding.com.

No-Nonsense Muscle Building

Wanna Start a Plant-based Muscle Building Diet But Clueless in the Kitchen?

Whether you’re trying to bulk up or trying to get more lean and ‘cut’, having a muscle building diet appropriate for your individual needs is definitely something you need to do. But of course it’s easier said than done. So if you want a step by step program that will help guide you every day check out this  muscle building nutrition program (yes,it’s got a Vegetarian version).

If you want to take your body from regular-to-ripped in the next 28-84 days with a step-by-step progressive meal plan system...

If you lack proper knowledge of how much protein, carbs and fats you should be eating each meal and clueless on when to change your calories and nutrient breakdowns…

If you’re a complete beginner to nutrition and don’t have a clue on what the best foods are to lose the first 100 pounds of fat (or you need to lose the last stubborn 10 pounds of fat)

Or you’re intimidated by grocery shopping and are ready to cut back on the red meats, heavily processed foods, alcohol, take-out and drive-through food in orderf to get in your best shape ever…

I highly recommend you check out Empowered Nutrition Systems – a collection of done-for-you meal plans designed to transform your body in 12 weeks. Click the collage above to see how you too can transform you physique in the shortest possible time via optimum muscle building nutrition techniques.


Clément Yeung

Founder & Fitness Nerd

Founder of Muscle4Hardgainers. Loves to experiment and teach others the best ways to reach their physical goals.