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Are vegans weedy?

2010 September 7
by sampablokuper

Vegans may incorporate weeds into their diets, but are they, metaphorically speaking, weedy? Put another way, is it possible to be both vegan and physically strong?

Anecdotally, vegans and even vegetarians have a reputation for being anaemic and physically weak, and it may indeed be easier to become anaemic from iron deficiency on a poor quality vegetarian or vegan diet than on a poor quality diet featuring meat. However, no poor quality diet is good for health – poor quality meat-based diets may lead to other problems – so let’s restrict our focus to those who are more careful about what they eat. Can a vegan who eats well and keeps fit gain or maintain respectable functional strength for sports or health?

The answer, emphatically, is yes. What’s the evidence? Vegan athletes.

I recently discovered that Jon Hinds, who operates Monkey Bar Gymnasium – a gym whose website I’ve been using for exercise tips – is vegan. Moreover, he has made veganism a core component of Monkey Bar Gymnasium’s approach to health and fitness.

Jon’s no slouch, and neither is his vegan bodybuilder friend Mike Mahler. Here’s a video of them performing 56kg kettlebell snatches; Mike goes first (NSFW):

Read a little more about Mike Mahler and you’ll soon learn about one of his protégés: champion mixed martial arts fighter Mac Danzig, who is also vegan, and whose diet hasn’t prevented him beating a string of fearsome opponents in the ring.

But is that it? These three white men who move in the same circles? Of course not. There are notable vegan athletes of every shade and gender. Here are a couple of handy lists: at Wikipedia and at Best Vegan Guide.

So, if you’re considering a vegan diet, but you’re afraid it will leave you weak and puny, worry not. Just be sure to maintain a good intake of essential nutrients, and you may find, as Jon Hinds did, that you actually improve your performance! (Skip to 6:10 in the following video to see him discuss this.)

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