Vegetarianism and Bodybuilding: My Personal Experience

After taking almost a year off from the gym I was itching to get back in and under the bar. It was June of 2012 when I made my debut appearance at a local L.A. Fitness. Armed with my notepad, pre workout, and a good attitude I jammed out my first session ever in a long time. Man it felt good.

Getting back into the swing of things was not the problem, what I faced now was a little extra chub I wanted to get rid of. In my time away from the gym I softened up a tiny bit.

My Introduction To Organic Food

forks_over_knives_dvdNot shortly after I had made the return to weightlifting I was introduced to a movie called Forks Over Knives. One night I sat down to watch it. Not really knowing what it was about other than whole foods based diets and the food industry, I pushed play.

Leaving the experience with a bad taste in my mouth, no pun intended, I decided that I was going to become an overnight vegetarian. And I did. A stint that lasted about 7 months. Which I am more than willing to share with you.

The Born Again Vegetarian

Now that I didn’t eat meat anymore and I knew everything I needed to know from Forks Over Knives along with several pro-vegetarian based movies I was on a crusade to change the world. When I was done everyone was going to hate meat. Or so I thought.

Growing up a carnivore and being accustomed to such delicious dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, new york strip steak and french fries, or even nice chicken cutlets, getting rid of meat became a chore. In the beginning it took me several weeks before I ended up totally committing. I just couldn’t let go.

By the 2 month of attempting vegetarianism I was full force. All I ate was fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, eggs, and fish. With a new outlook on life, I was ready to rock. Buying up vegetarian cook books and reading online about bodybuilding as a vegetarian I figured piece of cake.

Most of my meals constituted of quinoa, beans, eggs, and tuna served with veggies of course. I pretty much just seemed to eat big salads all the time. I felt great though. I felt like I was doing the right thing.

And The Beet Goes On

A devout vegetarian now for 5 or 6 months the boat began to rock again. Going strong for this long I felt there was no turning back to the meat side. I was convinced. Until one day. Sitting in the lunchroom at work a coworker of mine had stepped out to get lunch.

15 minutes later he returned with a Publix bag. The scent escaping from the protective plastic fortress was dancing in my nose. I knew that smell. I was very familiar with it. It was a smell I haven’t smelt in a long time. Quietly I sat and waited. Saying nothing I pretended what was about to happen wasn’t.

vegetarianAs he situated himself at the table and slowly opened the to go box I fought a battle inside me. Restrain. Discipline. Stay strong. All words I kept repeating to myself. Over and over. At this moment I knew I had to be strong. Keeping to my diet this long I didn’t want to turn back. And then all of a sudden a whiff of that delightful scent graced my nose hairs once again and I shattered.

Standing up from my chair with authority I walked over to the table and said “Marcus, lemme get one of your chicken wings!”. He obliged sliding the tray towards me so I could choose for myself.

chicken-wingsBiting into that delicious fried piece of chicken saturated in buffalo sauce would bring and man to his knees. Each bite brought back memory after memory. I could remember all the tastes and times I had eaten meat before. There was no turning back now.

Needless to say I enjoyed the moment very much so. Feeling guilty I knew I had to hide this from others, even my girlfriend. I carried on as if nothing had happened.

The Walls Come Crumbling Down

Power_EatingAfter my chicken wing episode my opinions of vegetarianism began to fade away. Slowly but surely I felt myself slipping back into eating meat. First it was on occasion. Then more often than not. But not until reading Power Eating was when I reset to my carnivorous roots.

Having gained a thorough sense of sports nutrition and really nutrition in general helped me even further solidify my switch back. When you start to understand why we eat certain foods and why everything starts to make more sense.

So, Would You Do It Again

I don’t think I would ever entertain the thought of resuming a plant based diet. In retrospect it didn’t make sense. Personally I felt a lack of balance. Moving forward with my diet I still seek to maintain good balance.

Eating a predominantly plant and whole foods based diet came with several complications for me. At first I lost a lot of weight and was the typical “skinny-fat”. As my exercising began to pick up I felt I wasn’t getting enough food and began to bloat. On top of feeling over worked all the time.

I did not like the amount of sodium that is in most of the grocery store vegetarian items, I had a real hard time eating out. Being on the road a lot that can be a problem. And simply put I just felt the choice was detrimental to my goals.

Now I’m not saying that you cannot achieve a fitness goal as a vegetarian. All I am saying is that I was not successful in the route I took.

About the author, Steve Hall

Steve is a strength training fanatic who geeks out over the best, most efficient workouts, nutrition and gear to help get you stronger and healthier!