My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘vegan bodybuilder’

Frank Medrano: Powered by Plants

FrankMedrano570x299 Frank Medrano: Powered by Plants

Have you heard of Frank Medrano? He’s a body builder, and he does stuff like this.

And his strength comes from plants. That’s right: Frank Medrano is vegan.

Frank, like most people, wasn’t born vegan. He ate meat for 30 years. And though he’s been training for 7 years now, it was a little over a year ago when he learned that two good friends of his, Dan Attanasio and Noel Polanco, were vegan. They were body builders, too, and Frank was intrigued. His two friends helped him get started with a plant-based diet, helped him make meal plans and answered all of his questions, and within 2-3 months, Frank was feeling all the amazing benefits of a plant-based diet. The most notable were the increase in energy – “real high energy” – and quicker recovery times. He calls the benefits of a plant-based diet “super wellness.”

“I thought I was healthy and strong before, but [after adopting a plant-based diet] I started to feel energetic and I was having quicker recovery after training,” Frank said.

Help from friends made the transition easier, but Frank admits it wasn’t a completely effortless transition from an omnivorous diet to plant-based. “The hard part was in my head,” he said. “My head was telling me I was missing something, but I wasn’t.” Through trial and error, Frank discovered his new favorite foods, and within 2-4 weeks, he was on track and feeling great.

After about three months on a vegan diet, Frank approached Dan and Noel about joining forces and spreading the word about the benefits of eating vegan. Together, the trio formed Vegan Calisthen-X. Through their website they share information, answer questions, and create videos of their plant-strong feats of strength. The videos are immensely popular online, and on-site while they’re being filmed. Naturally, Frank gets a lot of feedback from passers by, wanting to know, “How do you do that?!” Frank loves chatting with people about fitness and plant-based nutrition, and people are most often shocked when they find out he eats zero animal products. “90% of the time, the first thing people ask is, ‘What do you eat?’” Frank says. He also states that many people look disappointed after he explains his diet, but that he hears success stories, too. Later he’ll run into someone that he had spoken to before and they’ll report to him that they’re trying to go vegan, or have gone vegan, and with excellent results. Their excitement and success feels rewarding. Knowing that he has had a positive influence on someone, Frank says, “It’s fulfilling to know what you’re doing is right.”

Through the Vegan Calisthen-X website, Facebook, and Youtube pages, Frank answers a lot of questions and shares a lot of information, including his favorite inspirational resources. Among them, the film, Forks Over Knives, rates highly as a must-see. He also recommends those interested in fitness to check out Robert Cheeke and his site, VeganBodyBuilding.com. For those interested in filling their plates with delicious and nutritious plant-based fare, he refers them to NakedCore.com.

So, what more is on the horizon for Frank Medrano? He’s focusing on adding more information and creating more videos for Vegan Calisthen-X, as well as performing at fitness expos. He would love to have more speaking opportunities. Frank recently had two photo shoots for a feature in the new Vegan Health and Fitness magazine. And he will, of course, continue to educate and inspire everyone on how to thrive (and beyond) on a plant-based diet.

Amanda Just

Amanda Just

Amanda Just is a freelance writer, who contributes to This Dish is Veg and other websites. She also teaches cooking classes and works with at-risk youth. Read more about Amanda on her blog, Hungry Vegan Traveler.

10 Brawny & Buff Vegan Men (Plus a Bonus!)

Our picks for the brawniest vegan men.

BY CHINA DESPAIN FREEMAN MAY 25, 2012

If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll hear this question at least once in your life: “But where do you get your protein?!” Despite plenty of scientific evidence to the contrary, there is still a pervasive belief that humans must eat meat — and lots of it — to ingest adequate amounts of protein and build muscle.

Not only that, but there’s also a stigma, particularly for men, that being vegan is somehow less “manly” than following a carnivorous diet. In fact, a recent study found that people tend to describe meat as more “masculine” than vegetables. The study’s authors say that, “To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food. Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”

This is clearly a misconception that needs to be addressed, so we’re doing our part to show that there’s nothing wimpy about vegans. In fact, there are plenty of examples of strong, studly, masculine dudes who abstain from animal products, and we’re here to prove it. So, without further ado, we present our choices for the top 10 brawniest vegan men, with a vegetarian bonus.

Robert Cheeke

Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke has been a vegan since age 15.

Robert Cheeke is a bodybuilder whose vegan diet helps him maintain his ripped physique. He grew up on a farm in Oregon, an experience he credits with helping develop his compassion toward animals, and at age 15, he gave up all animal products. Now he gets his protein from legumes, greens and plant-based protein powders, and considers fruits and nutrient-dense burritos his go-to foods. “Yams and potatoes, quinoa, kale and artichokes are some of my other favorite whole foods. Thai and Indian dishes, especially Masaman and Yellow Curry and vegetable samosas and Aloo Matter, are by far my favorite dinner meals. Avocado rolls are another menu item I indulge in regularly,” he says.

VegNews named him one of its 15 most influential vegan athletes, and in 2006, Cheeke released a documentary about vegan fitness. He has also been involved in animal advocacy campaigns for PETA and VegSeattle.
Photo credit: Mikkei

Mac Danzig

The champion fighter embraced a vegan diet after seeing the plight of pigs in a slaughterhouse.

Mac Danzig, an MMA fighter and UFC competitor who has won numerous titles, including King of the Cage Lightweight Champion and Gladiator Challenge Lightweight World Champion, is a strict vegan who has campaigned with PETA for animal rights. ”Animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses don’t have a fighting chance,” Danzig says in the PETA ad. “I don’t eat animals because I don’t want to contribute to their suffering — it’s that simple. Do yourself a favor, do the planet a favor, and help end animal abuse — go vegetarian. I am a fighter in the best shape of my life.”

In 2008, he was listed as a finalist in Men’s Health magazine’s 25 Fittest Guys in America, and in the profile, he explained how, due to an allergy, dairy was detrimental to his health. “A lot of people don’t realize how hard milk, whey, and other dairy products are on the sinuses and respiratory system, and the dairy industry would like you to believe that you need milk to get calcium. That notion is as oxymoronic as you can get. Although not everybody has as severe an allergy to dairy products as I did, I just wanted to point out that after years of battling with ear and sinus infections, eliminating dairy completely cured my problems. Anyone with similar problems may want to try it for a while,” he said.
Photo credit: PETA

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson credits his 130-pound weight loss to his vegan diet.

He may have suffered a number of ups and downs in his career, but there’s one thing that can’t be disputed: this brawny guy was a really great boxer. A former heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson holds records as the youngest boxer to ever win the WBC, WBA and IBF titles (he was 20 at the time). Now retired from the sport, Tyson lives a much more peaceful life overall, shunning all animal products from his diet.

He credits the diet overhaul with helping him shed 130 pounds (revealing a sleeker, stronger physique), and explained in 2010 that it was part of an overall plan to revamp his life and improve his mental and physical health. “I wanted a different life. I felt like I was dying. I had an incident in life where I lost my 4-year-old daughter in a tragic accident at home. I don’t know. I didn’t want to live anymore. So I said, that in order to go there, I had to change my life. I am going to change everything I dislike about myself. I changed everything that I was as a human being. I started that journey in October or November…I don’t smoke anymore. I wanted to give up everything. I had to change my life.” Mission accomplished.
Photo Credit: CarlaVanWagoner / Shutterstock.com

Brendan Brazier

Brendan Brazier went vegan at age 15 to improve his sports performance.

This Canadian athlete is proof that a vegan diet is more than enough to fuel an active lifestyle. A former triathlete, Brendan Brazier won 50-kilometer ultramarathons twice: once in 2003, and again in 2006 (If you don’t do metric, that’s about 31 miles. In other words, a really long way to run!). An advocate for a plants-based lifestyle, Brazier is also the man behind the Thrive Diet and the Vega sports nutrition line (fellow brawny dudes Robert Cheeke and Mac Danzig are fans).

Brazier discovered veganism as a teenager, and has never looked back, even though he no longer competes professionally. “I’ve been vegan since I was 15, and I got into it just because I wanted to be a better athlete, I didn’t care what I ate,” he says. “At the time I would’ve eaten anything if I thought it would have made me a better athlete. And I just tried different ways of eating…That’s what brought me to it, it was really selfish reasons. I mean, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it. Then I found that a properly put together, plant-based diet was a real performance advantage, and I started racing professionally.” The rest is triathlon history.
Photo credit: Iknowiknowithink

Jake Shields

Jake Shields is a lifelong vegetarian who made the switch to vegan in 2011.

This MMA and UFC competitor is a lifelong vegetarian and current vegan who cites the SunWarrior brand as his protein powder of choice. A middleweight and welterweight champion, Jake Shields is an animal rights advocate who teamed with PETA to support vegetarianism. The Srikeforce champ denounced the way slaughterhouses treat animals, and cited himself as an example of a successful vegan athlete. ”I’m living proof that you can further, train harder, and pack a meaner punch without eating animals,” reads his PETA ad.

Shields has been advocating for a meat-free diet for years. Back in 2009, he explained, “I’m a life-long vegetarian and the diet obviously works. I also have two brothers that are strong and healthy. But you do have to have a good balanced diet and eat healthy foods. There’s plenty of ways to get protein other than eating meat.” Well said.
Photo Credit: PETA 

Rip Esselstyn

Rip Esselstyn is the creator of the Engine 2 Diet, which is featured in a Forks Over Knives companion film.

The success of vegan documentary “Forks Over Knives” helped make Rip Esselstyn a household name (his father is one of the doctors profiled in the film), and now he has his own documentary touting the benefits of a meat-free diet. A former All American swimmer and top triathlete and current firefighter (and Lance Armstrong workout buddy), Esselstyn’sfitness background is impressive: ”[Esselstyn] took first place in many major events, including the 2001 Police and Fire World Games, the world’s largest athletic competition. He also won the Capital of Texas triathlon eight times and was the leader and top-three finisher at many televised events, including the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, where he was first out of the frigid, shark-infested waters six years in a row. Rip still competes in various events, recently winning the master national championships and setting the national record in the process.”

Esselstyn is also the creator Engine 2 diet and hosts its companion film, “Forks Over Knives Presents: Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue” (it streams on Netflix if you want to check it out), which features him teaching two families basics of a plant-based diet. He initially created the Engine 2 diet to help save the life of one of his firefighter co-workers (it worked!), and now works with Whole Foods to spread the message about the benefits of a vegan diet.
Photo credit: Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue

Georges Laraque

Georges Laraque is an animal-rights activist and vegan restauranteur.

Canadian athlete Georges Laraque may have retired from hockey, but the 6’3″ forward made quite an impression on the ice in his day: in 2003, he was named “Best Fighter” by The Hockey News, and Sports Illustrated crowned him “Best Enforcer” in 2006. Despite his tough on-ice persona, Laraque lives a decidedly more peaceful life outside the rink as a PETA supporter and vegan restauranteurIn a PETA video, Laraque says, “I don’t put up with much, and I certainly don’t want to put up with the cruelty of the meat industry. I’m Georges Laraque, and I’m vegan.”

His decision to abstain from animal products came after watching the documentary “Earthlings.” “After I saw that video…I encouraged people to watch it, because I am sure people, like me, are sensitive to cruelty. And when you see that animals go through so much cruelty, why would you want to encourage that?… I felt better, I have much more energy, and I feel even stronger, so the stereotype that says that big guys cannot be vegan, if you don’t eat meat, you can’t be strong, it’s not true,” he says. And not only did the film lead him to change his diet, but it brought on a whole new level of activism for Laraque,including participation in fur protests. Now that’s a fight we’d like to see him win.
Photo credit: PETA

John Salley

Former NBA star believes a raw vegan diet is optimal for good health.

It takes a lot to fuel 6’11″ of muscle up and down a basketball court, but former NBA starJohn Salley knows the key to a healthy diet is abstaining from animal products. Salley has had a varied entertainment career since he retired from sports, but his real passion is health, and he’s an outspoken raw vegan who has worked with PETA and the PCRM and who has his own line of organic, vegan food products.

Salley’s discipline is both physical and mental; he considers his body a temple, and takes care of it through fitness, diet and spiritual study. And he believes it’s up to adults to spread the message of good health to our children. “As a former athlete, I know that the nutrition of the food I eat has a direct impact on my physical and mental performance on the basketball court. More fruits, vegetables, and other vegetarian foods help you stay healthy, fit, and alert. Adults influence kids’ eating habits. We have to improve kids’ eating habits — and re-educate adults about what is food and what is not food. People can have pizza and pastries without dairy products and eggs. They can have tofu mozzarella cheese or egg substitute and they should use agave in place of high-fructose corn syrup and refined whole sugar,”he said back in 2010. Here’s hoping his suggestions catch on.
Photo credit: Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

Bryan Danielson

Bryan Danielson credits his meat-free diet with helping him succeed in the WWE ring.

Also known as Daniel Bryan and the Red Dragon, this vegan WWE superstar has a litany of credits to his name, including: “former Ring of Honor World champion, two-time Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World champion, a one-time Westside Xtreme Wrestling Heavyweight champion, a one-time FIP Heavyweight Champion and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion in WWE.” He’s also integrated veganism into his villainous wrestling persona to elicit crowd reactions.

Like many of the athletes on our list, he’s partnered with PETA to promote the benefits of a vegetarian diet. In a video for the animal-rights organization, he says, “As a WWE superstar, staying healthy and having a lot of energy helps me succeed in the ring, and that’s why I choose to be a vegetarian. My vegetarian diet allows me to lead a healthier lifestyle, reduce my carbon footprint, and save the lives of more than 100 animals every year. I’m stronger and healthier than ever, and I feel good about doing something positive for myself, animals, and the planet.”
Photo credit: PETA

Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis's most successful year as an athlete happened when he adopted a vegan diet.

Carl Lewis is one of the United States’ most decorated athletes. Standing tall at 6’3″, this former track and field athlete competed from 1979 to 1996, racking up nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, eight World Championship gold medals, one World Championship silver, one World Championship bronze, and three Pan American Games medals (two golds and a bronze). He was also drafted by both the NBA and the NFL, although he opted not to play in either league. All this and he’s a vegan — now that’s what we call impressive.

So, just how did his meat-free diet enhance his career? Lewis says, “In the spring of 1991 – eight months after beginning to eat vegan…I was drinking 24 to 32 ounces of juice a day. I ate no dairy products. And I had my best year as an athlete ever! You have total control over what you put in your body. No one can force you to eat what you don’t want to eat. I know that many people think that eating a vegetarian diet – and especially a vegan diet – will require sacrifice and denial. Jannequin Bennett demonstrates…that eating vegan does not have to be tasteless and boring. As she says, ‘vegan eating is a truly indulgent way of life, as vegans regularly partake of the very best foods that nature has to offer.’ Your body is your temple. If you nourish it properly, it will be good to you and you will increase its longevity.” Well said, Mr. Lewis.
Photo credit: Manfred Werner

Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan says he's stronger as a vegetarian than he was as a meat-eater.

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan is the 11th guy on our list, and we’re including him as a bonus. He’s not a vegan (yet!), but he adopted a vegetarian diet three years ago, and is a prime example that meat is not necessary to maintain a strong, manly physique (according to Wikipedia, he’s 6’5″ and 315 pounds). The star recently teamed up with PETA to advocate his animal-friendly diet, which helped him lose weight and improve his overall health.

In the video for the campaign, he says, “The best thing about being a vegetarian for me, number one, is I know I’m not harming any animals. The number two thing is increased strength. I’m a lot stronger than I was when I was eating meat. Most of your most powerful animals in the wild are vegetarian, so I’m trying to get my strength to that level…Don’t think that you have to have these gigantic steaks to get your protein. The protein you put in from the beans, legumes, fresh fruits, and vegetables will last way longer, and you’ll get more out of it than you will in that 12 ounces of meat.”
Photo credit: PETA

::

This pretty much proves it — there’s nothing un-masculine about abstaining from meat. On the contrary, these guys all concur that it’s not possible to be healthy, fit and strong on a vegan diet, it’s actually easier! And not only are they taking care of themselves, they’re also helping to save lives and protect the planet. That level of kindness is just plain hot.

Featured image: Shutterstock.com

About China DeSpain Freeman

China DeSpain Freeman is an Atlanta and San Antonio based writer and blogger. She loves pop culture, animal rights, health and fitness, international travel, books and wigs. You can find more of her work at themodernista.comand writefork.com. Follow China on Twitter: @ChinaDeSpain

THE BEST RAW VEGAN PLANT BASED PROTEIN SOURCES ON THE PLANET

The Best Raw Vegan Plant Based Protein Sources on the Planet

Woman Running on Beach

Could there be a greater controversy in the health realm than the vegan vs. omnivore debate over protein? If you’ve been living a plant based lifestyle for a while now, you probably chuckle when someone makes a comment like “there’s no way you can get enough protein from vegetables”, or the alternative, you might get a little bit annoyed after hearing it for the 100th time. But let’s face it, there’s a ton of confusion surrounding what we should eat in the world, and some of us have been downright convinced that vegetables are nothing more than water.

My intention is to show what’s possible if you’re choosing to go plant based and opt out of animal protein, for whatever reason. Maybe you’re hoping to heal a dis-ease or health condition, lower your blood pressure, lose weight or increase your energy. These are all common reasons for choosing plants over flesh. But before we get into it, let me be clear that this post is in no way pushing plant based living as the only way to live. In this world, we must live according to our individual paths, and for some of us that means consuming animal flesh and for others it means consuming plants.

My greatest concern when it comes to consuming animals, is the disregard we’ve developed for the animals life, the abuse and suffering that goes on in factory farms, and the inevitable consequences on our bodies when we consume the stress, hormones, anti-biotics and fear based energy of those animals. I could go deeper into why some animal products don’t contribute to healthful living, but this post isn’t about that. For a lot people living in modern urban areas, hunting for food or purchasing from a local organic farmer is not an option. This is a problem, and the solution is going plant based. It’s far safer for you to consume a plant based diet, than to consume factory farmed meat, eggs, milk or dairy.

So What Are Some Reliable Plant Based Protein Sources?

Sprouts

  • Sprouts of all kinds are nutritional powerhouses with a high protein content ranging from 20-35% protein. Not only that, but they’re also excellent sources of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
  • Broccoli sprouts contain 35% protein
  • Pea Sprouts contain 25% protein

Bunch of Pea Sprouts

Bunch of Pea Sprouts

Greens

  • Dark Green Vegetables will serve your protein needs and provide your body with calcium, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and amino acids
  • Broccoli contains 45% protein
  • Spinach contains 30% protein
  • Kale contains 45% protein

Green Kale

Green Kale

Nuts & Seeds

  • Nuts & Seeds are also sources of good healthy fats like omega 3, 6 & 9′s. There is a concern however surrounding the overconsumption of omega 6′s and not getting enough 3′s. For this reason, eating nuts and seeds as part of a raw, vegan or vegetarian diet shouldn’t be considered the main protein source but used in addition to other foods with a lower fat content like sprouts & green vegetables.
  • Hemp Seeds are the only food known to have a perfect harmony of omegas 3,6 & 9. They’re also 22% protein.
  • Pumpkin seeds are 21% protein.
  • Almonds are 12% protein per ounce.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds

Algae sources

  • Spirulina is about 68% protein and also helps detoxify the body. It’s packed with vitamins and contains EFA’s (essential fatty acids).
  • Chlorella is about 60% protein and is known for it’s rapid tissue repair properties. It’s a great food if you’re very physically active or have higher protein requirements. Use it in your shakes to help speed up recovery times.

Spirulina Powder

Spirulina Powder

Gabriel Cousens discussed the use of spirulina and chlorella for protein supplementation in an interview with Dr. Mercola. He gave an example of someone who wanted to consume 45g of protein per day (which is almost twice as high as what the American Nutritional Journals and World Health Organization recommend). If you were to consume 2 tbsp. of spirulina or chlorella with each meal (let’s say in a juice or smoothie), you would easily hit this mark for protein.

Our Protein Powder of Choice

Sunwarrior Raw Vegan Protein

Sunwarrior Raw Vegan Protein

Visual Examples of Fit, Muscular Vegans

I’m excited to share these examples of super fit, muscular looking vegans that Caleb and I have come across in our googling adventures. Since coming across these amazing examples, we’ve begun to connect with some of them as well so we can continue to give you insight into what their diets and lifestlyes really look like. Stick around to watch this protein discussion evolve in the very near future.

Click here to an interview with Frank and CutandJacked.com

Vegan Bodybuilder Frank Medrano

Vegan Bodybuilder Frank Medrano

Click here to read an interview with Marzia Prince and SimplyShredded.com

Female Vegan Bodybuilder Marzia Prince

Female Vegan Bodybuilder Marzia Prince

Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice. There are many different lifestyles you can follow, some will make you look really good and fail you when it comes to nutrition, and some will serve you not only through physical results, but through internal results.

A plant based lifestyle can provide a host of benefits, many of which I touched on already and in aprevious post on protein. Some people will be quick to judge and say this cannot be true, but those same people have likely never tried a vegetarian diet, let alone a raw vegan diet. When we open our mind up to possibilities, we gift ourselves the chance to experience optimal health, whatever that looks like for us. The key is to be open to experimentation. If your current lifestyle isn’t working for you, considering giving a plant based lifestyle an honest shot. Even a 7 day trial is a great place to start!

I’d love to hear some of your favourite protein sources in the comments below!

Learn how to integrate raw foods into your lifestyle in our 3 months course How to Go Raw, Not Crazy!We’re taking a few more student testers, if you’d like more details on how you can get a discount on registration you can  email us with the subject line “how to go raw”.

AUTHOR:Sheleana Breakell -Young and Raw

Sheleana is the co-founder & chief blogger of YoungandRaw.com, a self taught raw vegan chef and big time animal lover. Like many, her path to a high raw and plant based lifestyle came through a series of challenges and discoveries. After healing her body and spirit of chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalance and shedding over 45lbs of weight through raw foods, Sheleana was inspired to help other people take their power back and re-build more sustainable relationships with the food they eat. As the author and co-creator of a 3 month raw food program for beginners called How to Go Raw, Not Crazy! She and her partner Caleb take students on a journey of self discovery, raw food preparation, meal planning, weight loss and conquering cravings. Rather than suggesting everyone be a raw vegan, she simply chooses to share the information that resonates with her at her core in hopes that it will reach the people who are meant to receive it. There is never any pressure to adopt a certain diet or lifestyle 100%. Sheleana is a free spirit and fully embraces all aspects of life’s’ challenges as lessons and opportunities for growth. She knows everyone is on their own journey and what works for her may not work for others. The Young and Raw philosophy is based on unconditional love, self awareness, compassion for all life and radical authenticity.

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