Jon HindsMany athletic men use their very athleticism as an excuse to continue eating meat, even on the Great American Meatout. How, they ask, will they maintain their muscular physiques without animal protein? But a quick look at some of today’s plant powered strength trainers might give them some food for thought. They aren’t the stereotypical skinny vegan guys of popular imagination.

Robert dos Remedios has been training athletes since 1988. In 2006 was recipient of the National Strength and Conditioning’s prestigious Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Professional of the year. He’s also a vegan, and has been for over 20 years. A muscular 245 pounds and 11-12 percent body fat, dos Remedios says “I’ve had no problem maintaining muscle mass and strength and power on a vegan diet.” He also doesn’t buy the hype about the dangers of soy making men more feminine: “Don’t believe the hype, boys…. If you guys saw how much soy I eat, well, let’s just say that I should be Roberta by now.”

Jon Hinds is the founder of Monkey Bar Gym in Madison, Wisconsin. A two-time gold medalist in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the 46-year-old Hinds went vegan near his fortieth birthday. In an interview, he explained “I became a vegan for a few reasons, one, I do not like killing animals, two, I want to eat better for the world and three, I developed intense hand pain from what I thought was purely my decade of training the martial art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.” What does veganism have to do with hand pain? According to Hinds, “all the animal products and their acidic nature that pulls calcium out of the bones, which first shows up as hand and joint pain.” After cutting meat from his diet, his “pain was completely gone in two months.” Today, Hinds says, as a vegan, he can “show people how healthy and vibrant you can be without eating an animal based diet.”

When Jon Hinds wanted to learn more about maintaining strength and muscle on a vegan diet, one of the people he turned to was his friend Mike Mahler. Mahler is a top overall strength and conditioning trainer, and is probably one of the top five or six kettlebell trainers in the U.S. A vegan for close to 15 years, Mahler says he wanted to “do something to alleviate the suffering that animals go through in the world. In addition to not eating meat or any animal products, I do not wear leather, and do my best to avoid products that were tested on animals.” Has going vegan made it difficult for Mike Mahler to stay fueled for his grueling training schedule? Not according to him: “Getting everything I need to fuel my workouts and life is really not that hard at all on a strict vegan diet if you know what you’re doing.”

Three different strength trainers. Three big, muscular guys. All vegans. All of them living proof that a compassionate diet, free of animal products, is no hindrance to a powerful body.

Photo Credit: Jon Hinds (used with permission)