A team of 28 vegan athletes just participated in this year’s Mr America competition in Atlantic City, NJ, to show the world that vegans can be just as strong, muscular and fit at meat-eaters, if not better.
The Mr America contest includes 4 different challenges for both men and for women:
Bodybuilding, where the judges score each athlete based on muscular development, proportion, conditioning, posing and general appearance,
Olympic weightlifting, where the athlete lifts a 400-600 pound barbell from the floor to an overhead position,
Kettlebell sport, where athletes have to repeat a certain movement with a designated weight in a certain amount of time.
Crossfit, which is designed to test the athlete’s level of physical fitness, measuring strength, speed, agility and overall fitness.
The Belgian female champion powerlifter, Sahyuri Lalime, has just taken home the Belgian national title for the fourth year in a row, and she is vegan. The plant-powered athlete won best overall female lifter, lifting a total of 412.5kgs: 152.5kg squat, 80kg bench, and 180kg deadlift, which shows that you don’t need to eat meat to be strong!
Lalime has been vegetarian for nearly 20 years, and vegan since 2015. She went vegetarian when she left home for college, based on not wanting to kill animals. Having lost her mother as a child, she became very sensitive to death and didn’t want to be a part of causing others to experience the same trauma. At college, she learned about how dairy cows were treated and realized that a vegan lifestyle was preferable. Sahyuri explains that the transition took her a while:
Rocky Luedeker of Oak Creek, Arizona, is a 62-year-old record-breaking powerlifter. She started lifting competitively four years ago and now holds 13 world records, and 26 state and national records.
According to Luedeker, “My best curl is 45 pounds, my best squat is 124 pounds, my best deadlift is 184 pounds.” She does all of this on a plant-based diet. She loves beans and rice, with lettuce every day. “A common myth is we [vegans] don’t have enough protein, and we have more than enough protein” she said.
But it also takes the right attitude to break records. “If I don’t get it this time, I will practice harder and get it next time,” she said. She has inspired her daughter, Bianca, also a vegetarian, who is now in training for the 2024 Olympics. “Definitely, lifting has greatly increased my confidence,” Bianca said. She is proud to be part of the “Lifting Luedekers” and proud of her powerlifting mom.
Strength and Endurance – Scientists tell us what we already know
Scientists at the University of Arizona have just confirmed through a rigorous study what many vegetarian athletes already knew. Vegetarian athletes have just as much peak muscle strength, and even more endurance than their meat-eating counterparts. This is borne out by the many athletes who are choosing to be vegetarian or vegan these days, because they find that it improves their performance.
Take football player David Carter, a defensive lineman with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and formerly with the Oakland and Dallas teams, for example. He became enthusiastic about his vegan diet after seeing the results and learning about the effect of his food choices. Eating an entirely plant-based diet, David experienced more energy and his stamina went through the roof. All his numbers in the weight room actually went up. Read more