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Part-Time Vegans In The Fitness Industry?

  • 8 min read

by Christian Duque

What the hell is a part-time vegan? Lol. Apparently, there are folks who secretly drink milk, eat meat, wear leather and, maybe, also hunt, but they’re vegans for the cameras. Since when is being vegan such a sought after dietary preference? Well, since Subway, Burger King, and even Kentucky Fried Chicken rolled out plant-based options.

All of a sudden, we don’t have just one or two vegan protein powders, either. It seems every company has one. In fact, there’s entire companies that are vegan-based, now!

We’ve always known that the body needs amino acids and we’ve always known that the body doesn’t really care where it gets the building blocks of protein from (whether animal or plant-based), but animal protein has always been the norm.

We’ve always associated red meat with virility. On the flipside, who the hell wants to be a “soy boy?” That’s the definition of weak, scrawny, & soft-spoken. But that was also yesterday’s perception of vegetarians and vegans. Today is a different day.

You have mass monsters and strength freaks, talking about lentils and pea protein, scarfing down bowl’s full of kale and taking wheatgrass shots with the same level of hair on your back bravado as taking whiffs of ammonia. The marketing of today has long done away with the generalizations and stereotypes that drew many away from the green lifestyles. In fact, you’ll hardly ever hear anyone even raise bunk arguments like those of the danger of feminization side effects to diets heavily reliant on soy. Granted, soy has largely been overshadowed by other highly processed animal-alternatives, but it’s still around, and it’s still kicking.

I became a vegetarian in 1994. While I was never vegan, I can tell you that back in the day, my options were extremely limited. If I wanted meat alternatives, I could choose from Morningstar Farms or Boca. That was pretty much it, and while the offerings were pretty good, only a moron would confuse them with actual meat. They were good, but there was simply no comparison.

I stopped eating meat for moral reasons, though I consumed dairy and eggs. Today, there’s blind studies and countless surveys throughout social media, where lifetime meat-eaters cannot tell the difference between real meat and Beyond products. These results are by no means, flukes. It happens over and over again.

Technology has gotten so advanced that meat alternatives not only have nailed the taste, but the texture, too. Fake chicken is stringy just like real chicken. Fake turkey can be made moist, but still has that signature bit of dryness that comes with real turkey. I don’t care how much you smother turkey in gravy, it will always be a somewhat dry meat – and mad scientists have been able to treat the soy, pea, or rice based protein concoctions they’ve made, to follow suit just like the real thing. All the senses are duped. The only place where the difference is still pronounced, would be the wallet. Many of the plant-based meats are astronomically expensive, and nothing gets the supplement companies’ attention more than money.

Just because an industry likes profits, doesn’t mean it’s, necessarily, greedy. If raw materials are expensive, then it only makes sense that producers pass on the cost to consumers. Otherwise, businesses would go belly up. However, what if the raw materials could be gotten cheaply, but the market is accustomed to consumers getting ripped off?

I mean, who complains that the Impossible Whopper is a whole dollar more than the regular one? Vegans are just happy to have it. They don’t complain about the price. Look at some of the most popular vegan protein powders at GNC or Walmart. They’ll charge you twice as much as a 2lb tub of whey protein for half the amount. Consumers are used to it. Therefore, why would companies rock the boat and suddenly charge less? Don’t say conscience – not in this industry!! They’ll just keep up-charging.

That being said, one look at Walmart’s Equate Vegan Protein – and you’re left scratching your head. It’s rich, tastes amazing, and packs 30g of protein per serving. It sells for all of $15 a tub, but unless you’re shopping at Walmart, you’ll never see this option. Even Wally World seems to keep it in short supply, so as to not starve out the expensive vegan options on their shelves. All that said, the demand is insane!!

Society has evolved.

Times have really changed since I became vegetarian in 1994. For years, I took abuse for not eating meat. Some thought I could never gain real muscle, that I’d stunt my growth, that I’d be perpetually obese, weaker, and maybe develop anemia. Where would I get my protein? Was I cutting my lifespan short?

To really make my my point, get this!! When I first started, I was in Catholic high school and my theology teacher gave me the impression that what I was doing defied God. Ironically, the first page of the Bible, back in that place called the Garden of Eden, everyone was on a vegetarian diet. I guess my professor forgot to read that. Lol

In any event, back when I first became a vegetarian, it was very easy to be socially ostracized for not eating meat. Today, I find myself writing an article about part-time vegan meat-eaters, who pretend to be vegans because they want to be influencers, want to be successful, and want people to turn to them for life advice, diet tips, and training suggestions. How ironic, huh?

You’ve got people today, with bacon stains on their shirt, talking about how much more holistic and ecologically sound it is to live off fruits and vegetables. There’s any number of charlatans who eat everything off a cow but the hooves, talking about sustainability and the carbon footprint the cattle industry leaves behind. It’s all a bunch of bullshit, nothing but hypocrisy and lies just to cash in. Others who have tried the lifestyle, only do it for the cameras. They’re about as much vegans, as I’m a meat eater. If fast food chains weren’t lining up to the jump on the bandwagon, these influencers wouldn’t be trying to put on a show for social media.

There are plenty of real vegans who build muscle. There’s guys like Robert Cheeke who have been vegans for many years, winning pro cards, and big titles. There have also been hugely successful (real) vegetarian bodybuilders like the great Bill Pearl. There’s any number of great DVD’s, books, and magazines that are available on backorder and online.

You most definitely can build muscle on a plant-based diet, many supplements are vegan and/or vegetarian friendly, and many of the alleged side effects of yesteryear have amounted to little more than old wives tales, when studied scientifically. That being said, there’s a growing number of bullshitters out there, who usually are the loudest people of all, not only lying about their vegetarianism / veganism but also making any number of baseless claims and drumming up bogus hype around products they allegedly use. All they want is your attention and your money. As I’ve said throughout this article, they’ll charge you prices that are nothing short of outrageous, and many times, they’ll get away with it.

Do your homework!! Read up on these folks, study the ingredient labels, run from proprietary blends and don’t reward companies that gauge you.

Keep in mind that vegan options are going to be more expensive, but anything beyond 15-25% mark-up and chances are, you’re being ripped off. And any company that would rip you off, price-wise, won’t have any moral scruples ripping you off quality-wise, either.

It’s only a matter of time until the embarrassments of animal-based proteins (e.g. amino spiking) start to be felt with plant-based ones. When enough people start buying plant-based supplements and only a few see results, then we’ll start seeing vegan proteins getting lab tested. In fact, if I was to compile how many vegan proteins have been tested to accurately disclose their fat, carb, and protein contents, I think I’d be hard-pressed to find a dozen. I don’t even think I’d find half a dozen!! There’s just not enough people buying these supplements, now, to shine any kind of spotlight on shady companies taking subpar products to market.

Be careful out there. Be careful with part-time vegans, snake oil, and amino spiked products at top dollar. You don’t always get what you pay for and many times, things are not what they seem.