One of the most common excuses given to justify meat-eating is that animals are a crucial, indispensable source of proteins — Vegetarian diet simply cannot provide proteins necessary to build six-packs. As you’ll see below, such conclusion is absurd and can only come from a severe lack of critical thinking!
When it comes to dietary choices, most people falsely assume causal relationships having no scientific backing. For instance, they may think, “Arnold Schwarzenegger consumes tons of boneless chicken breasts and egg whites daily. He is also a world-class body builder. Therefore, eating meat builds muscles.” This may be true. But to extrapolate, based on this argument, that some other person is weak and skeletal because he is a vegetarian only displays sheer ignorance.
The fact that proteins exist abundantly in a vegetarian diet is incontrovertible. A recent article in Times of India is worth sharing widely. I searched the link online but couldn’t find it. Seems like TOI hasn’t uploaded it yet. I shall provide a link as soon as it is made available. Till then, here are some excerpts (my comments in square brackets).
Talking about Varinder Singh Ghuman, the article notes:
“The Jalandar-based father of two, who plays the captain of a national kabaddi team in the film [Kabaddi Once Again] is, in fact, the captain of the Indian bodybuilding team. An IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) pro champ and former Mr India, Ghuman was spotted by director Sukhminder Dhanjal at a bodybuilding championship in Punjab in 2010. Here, as he does on various local and international platforms, Ghuman stood in a silky underwear, his long brown hair punished into a tight pony tail and oil-laden muscles flexing so that his web-like network of arteries and veins surface. His body is now a road-map.
Varinder Singh Ghuman, vegetarian
Many find it hard to believe that Ghuman, who has also participated in Arnold Classic, a body-building tournament held by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Ohio, is a vegetarian. Or that his biceps owe nothing to animal protein or egg white. After all bodybuilding is perceived to be the prerogative of vein popping men thriving off meat and artificial enhancements. “Everyone has asked me to eat eggs and meat in order to gain muscle mass, but as I am a vegetarian for religious reasons, I decided to stick to my diet and rely on hard work instead.” recalls Ghuman, a Gurusikh whose staple diet consists of yellow dal, chapattis, green salad, curd and lassi.
Though he does not discount the role of genetics in the sculpting of his broad, movie-screen-wide body, he believes his rippling bodyowes a lot to his intensive research on vegetarian nutritional sources.
The belief that skinless chicken breasts and egg whites are central ingredients for building mass is widespread in the world of bodybuilding. but this is a myth, argues Ghuman, who has built quite a reputations as the first India vegetarian bodybuilder.
Ghuman says he learnt during his research that colostrum, the milk produced by the mammals in late pregnancy and early lactation, is a good source of protein, growth hormones and anti-bodies. Since Ghuman’s father own a large dairy farm, access to colostrum was easy. That along with whey protein shakes and small meals through the day helped him scuplt his body.
While bodybuilding isn’t known for its herbivores, there are enough examples, both internationally and closer home, who prove the notion wrong. Hiralal Dhillan, head constable in the Punjab police force who won the Mr Universe crown last year in Mumbai, says he owes his 18-inch biceps and a fit 65-kg body weight exclusively to the pious platter of soya beans, dal, lassi, and dahi. “The trick is to eat eight small meals a day instead of three big ones,” says 34 year-old Dhillan, who interestingly wasn’t always a vegetarian. It was in 1997 that he decided to shun meat for spiritual reasons. “I lost fat and my weight improved. I gained 10 kgs,” recalls Dhillan.
“That you need meat to build body mass is a misconception,” says Dr Randhir Hastir, who is a trainer at the National School of Bodybuilding and Fitness and has coached, besides Ghuman, many greats such as Prem Chand, Hira Lal, Dalip Khali, Jagjit Singh, Manjit Singh, Nawal Kapoor. “Each individual only needs 1.5 grams of protein per kg of body weight and this is easily available in a vegetarian diet,” he says, adding that lassi, nuts, chana, dalia, and khichdi are good sources of proteins for vegetarians. “Most vegetarian animals you will notice are bigger in size.” he says.
Derek Tresize, an international vegan bodybuilder, used a similar argument in his piece for the website One Green Planet: “If plants have no protein and you need protein to grow big and strong, how on earth do animals like elephants, gorillas and oxen get so big and strong only eating plants?”
While these success stories have inspired many budding talents to follow the green route, foreign visits can sometimes turn out to be excruciating. In countries where plant-based food is not always easy to come by, they feel lost. Two years ago, during the Mr Asia championship in Dubai, Dhillan, for instance survived on a uniform platter of rice and potatoes for six days.” Daljit Singh, who is a Commonwealth silver medalist and ranks no 4 in the world, on the other hand, that nobody comprehended vegetarianism in Hong Kong. “As we are used to combining liquid diet with solid meals during the course of the day, it was especially tough. In the end, they had to arrange a special vegetarian meal just for me,” says the 44-year old Singh.
But vegetarianism has paid in other ways too. Ghuman will soon be endorsing a line of food supplements launched by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Besides, he has also landed a host of Bollywood offers.”
Hopefully, this post will clear all myths and misconceptions associated with the role of plant-based diets in bodybuilding. You can not only avoid unnecessary violence, but also build impressive curves through switching to a wholesome and less violent alternative to meat. Please share widely!