• Alyssa Fontaine, RD
  • Feb 09, 2024

Vegan Gains : Bodybuilding with High Protein Vegan Meal

Are you into sports, or do you simply want to get toned for the summer? 

However, everything that most influencers suggest seems to contradict your vegan lifestyle. Chicken breasts, steak, eggs, whey protein milkshakes… none of these fit into your diet. 

Is it even possible to build muscle as a vegan? Absolutely. 

In this article, we will present 15 high-protein vegan recipes for optimal muscle building.

Vegan Bodybuilding 101

What is bodybuilding?

The goal of bodybuilding is to build muscle size and definition through strength training and nutrition. There are three macronutrients in general — carbohydrates, proteins and fat. 

In order to build muscle efficiently, these three macronutrients are controlled in your diet. You need carbohydrates to sustain energy expenditure; you need adequate protein for building and sustaining muscle mass; and you need to control fat intake to improve your body composition

Needless to say, exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand.

Are vegan bodybuilders at a disadvantage?

Believe it or not, vegan bodybuilding is easier than you might expect. 

Amino acids are the fundamental building blocks of proteins, and there are a total of 20 amino acids. 

Among these 20 amino acids, 9 are classified as essential. Don’t worry, soy contains all of these essential amino acids. Soy would be your best friend in muscle building for any vegan or plant-based bodybuilders. 

In addition to that, if you can build your body in a healthy way, why not give it a try? Being a vegan also helps with weight management, slimming down and giving your physique more definition. 

Talk to one of our dietitians for advice in building your high protein vegan meals.

What type and how much protein do I need?

As a vegan or plant-based dieter, meat and whey powder are out of the question. There are vegan protein powders out there; made from plant sources such as pea, brown rice, hemp, or soy. 

However, our dietitians advocate eating whole foods rather than refined foods. Whole foods such as soy, beans, chickpeas and chia seeds are excellent examples.

In terms of how much protein you should eat, the amount varies depending on each individual and type of sports. 

Current recommended daily allowance for muscle maintenance called for 0.9 grams per kilogram body weight. 

Strength and endurance training raises the protein requirement to 1.2 – 2.0 grams per kilogram body weight. 

Finding all this information overwhelming? Talk to our dietitians and get professional opinions on creating your high protein vegan meals.

How can being vegan help me on my bodybuilding journey?

  • Lower saturated fat and cholesterol: Adopting a vegan diet is beneficial for cardiovascular health, enhancing endurance and longevity. Consequently, you can increase your lifting capacity and build more muscle
  • High fiber and antioxidant content: Fiber and antioxidants are vital for overall health and nutrient provision, often underestimated in their significance
  • Reduced inflammation: Vegan diets are recognized for their inflammation-reducing effects, expediting recovery and enabling more frequent gym sessions
  • Weight management: Achieving a lean and defined physique is attainable with vegan diets, facilitating weight control and the unveiling of chiseled abs
  • Work hard for a cause: Embracing veganism promotes environmental sustainability, offering a sense of accomplishment and purpose that fuels your motivation to lift and improve both yourself and the planet

What are some deficiencies I might have if I didn’t seek professional guidance?

  • Vitamin B12 (fortified nut milk or soy milk, or nutritional yeast)
  • Iron (beans, lentils while consuming vitamin C)
  • Calcium (fortified plant-based milk and tofu)
  • Vitamin D (fortified cereal and orange juice)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (algae oil)
  • Protein (soybean, tofu, beans, seitan)
  • Zinc (beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains)
  • Iodine (use iodine salt)
  • Selenium (brazil nuts)
  • Vitamin K2 (natto)

It’s always better to seek professional guidance when you first start planning your own high protein vegan meal. Talk to our dietitians and schedule a discovery call today.

What do vegan bodybuilders eat?

Here are some plant foods that are high in protein

  • Soybean, tofu (about 28 grams of protein per cooked cup)
  • Edamame (about 28 grams of protein per cooked cup)
  • Seitan (about 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces)
  • Lentils (about 18 grams of protein per cooked cup)

Do vegan bodybuilders need creatine?

Creatine supplementation can be beneficial for vegan bodybuilders, as they may have lower natural creatine intake from their diet since creatine is more abundant in animal products. 

Creatine plays a crucial role in providing rapid energy for high-intensity, short-duration activities, making it valuable for lifting and explosive workouts. 

While some plant-based sources like beans and nuts contain creatine, it may not be sufficient to meet the increased demands of intense training. Supplementing creatine may be the answer to it. 

Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can enhance strength, power, and muscle gains in vegan lifters. However, it is important to talk to a dietitian before using any supplements, especially when you are unsure.

Wonder if you needed creatinine? Talk to our dietitians about it.

Is peanut butter Vegan?

Peanut butter is generally considered compatible with a vegan diet because it is primarily composed of plant-based ingredients like roasted peanuts and occasionally a dash of salt.

Yet, for vegans, scrutinizing product labels is crucial, particularly when opting for flavored or enriched varieties, as certain brands may incorporate non-vegan additives such as honey or dairy-based substances. 

Always ensure that the ingredient list is devoid of any animal-derived components to align with vegan dietary principles.

Are there any famous vegan bodybuilders?

Old legends like Jim Morris who won Mr. New York City in ’66, Mr. East Coast in 67′, Mr. Los Angeles in ’69, turned vegetarian in 1985 and became vegan in 2000. He won other titles even going into his 70’s.

Newer bodybuilding stars like Maddie McConnell, won the WBNF Figure World Title being a vegan. Despite her opponents not being tested with steroid use, Maddie still won State Figure Champion. Later she won WNBF Pro in Fitbody and Women’s Bodybuilding and WNBF Monster Mash Figure Pro Champion.

Being vegan and bodybuilding is definitely being practiced by famous people.

What are some vegan-friendly pre-workout and post-workout snack options?

Pre-Workout Snacks (30 minutes before workout):

  • Bananas are a great source of natural carbohydrates, and they also provide potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramps during your workout
  • Other fruits provides a boost of glucose, which is essential for optimal performance

Post-Workout Snacks (30 minutes after workout):

  • Hummus with veggies is a good protein source for muscle repair
  • Smoothies made from blended fruits, greens, plant-based protein powder, and nut milk are amazing refreshments to hydrate and replenish your body with proteins and essential micronutrients

Having trouble finding recipes for these foods?

Check out these High Protein Vegan Recipes below.

vegan bodybuilding with High protein vegan recipes

Vegan Protein Pancakes

Serving size: 1 pancake = 1/4 recipe

Calories = 104 kcal, Protein = 9.2 g, Fat = 2.4 g, Carbs = 12.5 g

This recipe offers a high-protein breakfast option to support muscle development and recovery. Want to express your creativity? Add your favorite toppings on these vegan protein pancakes. You will easily meet your protein needs while having a nice, hot and fluffy breakfast.

Source: Vegan liftz, Jason Hughes

Aromatic Lentil Soup

Serving size: 1/3 recipe

Calories = 405 kcal, Protein = 21.1 g, Fat = 2.1 g, Carbs = 80.1 g

Looking for a way to warm yourself up in the coming winter? Look no further, this soup recipe has a rich source of plant-based protein. 

It contains 21 grams of protein which helps your muscle growth and repair. It’s also packed with 80 grams of carbohydrates for sustained energy output during workouts. Perfect for one of those days when you are contemplating skipping a workout.

Source: Vegan liftz, Jason Hughes

Mujadara, a Middle Eastern dish

Serving size: 1/3 recipe

Calories = 579 kcal, Protein = 23.5 g, Fat = 6.8 g. Carbs = 107.3 g

This recipe has lots of proteins and carbohydrates. A whopping 107 grams of carbohydrates, served in caramelized onions and fluffy rice is the powerhouse for your next workout. The 23.5 grams of protein is going to help your muscle development. Overall, a perfect, filling dish for all the vegan lifters out there/

Source: Vegan liftz, Jason Hughes

Vegan Bodybuilding with High Protein Vegan Meal plan easy

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Serving size: 1/4 recipe 

Calories = 514 kcal, Protein = 26.1 g, Fat = 3.1 g, Carbs = 101.6 g

Shepherd’s Pie offers a savory and satisfying taste that can help you adhere to your vegan bodybuilding regimen with enjoyment. 

Lentils are a rich source of plant-based protein, containing around 18 grams of protein per cup when cooked. This can also help maintain heart health and prevent unwanted weight gain.

Source : Vegan liftz, Jason Hughes

Vegan California Burger Recipe

Serving : 4 

Calories = 530 kcal, Protein = 30 g, Fat = 28 g, Carbs = 42 g

When you are hungry after a day of training, you just want to stuff your mouth with tasty food. This vegan california burger is just for you. It has 30 grams of protein per burger, and the recipe yields 4 burgers. 

A great post-workout meal for you and your buddies.

Source : Trifecta, CHEF SKY HANKA 

Vegan Savory Grilled Tofu, Broccoli, and Rice Bowl

Serving: 4

Calories = 470 kcal, Protein = 29 g, Fat = 17 g, Carbs = 55 g

Tofu, seasoned with the rich and savory goodness of nutritional yeast, expertly grilled, and presented on a bed of brown rice, black beans, and crisp vegetables, all delicately coated in a vinaigrette dressing. 

Soybeans are an excellent source of protein which provides all the essential amino acids which helps you build muscle.

Source : Trifecta, EMMIE SATRAZEMIS, RD, CSSD 

Vegan Mexican Beyond Meat Quesadilla Recipe

Serving: 4

Calories = 410 kcal, Protein = 28 g, Fat = 16 g, Carbs = 41 g

Down for some Mexican food? I know I am! A whole-grain tortilla, paired with your preferred plant-based cheese, beans, and some crumbled Beyond Meat, creates a truly fantastic vegan quesadilla. 

In this recipe, wheat from the quesadilla, plant-based cheese, beans and beyond meat all provided protein for your workout needs. Additionally, broccoli and other cruciferous veggies have the potential to significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer


Source : Trifecta, CHEF MARIO LIMADURAN

Vegan Korean Bibimbap Bowl

Serving: 4

Calories = 490 kcal, Protein = 24 g, Fat = 18 g, Carbs = 62 g

These fresh vegetables are abundant in vitamins, particularly carrots and zucchini, known for their Vitamin A content. Cucumbers, with their high water content, are excellent for maintaining moisture in the dish when your mouth is dry after exercise.

Source : Hurry the food up, Dave Bell

Tangy Veggie Wrap

Serving: 1

Calories = 378 kcal, Protein = 21 g, Fat = 16 g, Carbs = 42 g

Spinach plays a crucial role in both bone health and blood clotting. During strength training, your bones are what supports your heavy squats besides your muscles. Keeping your bones healthy is really important as well.

Source : Hurry the food up, Dave Bell

White Bean Salad with Quinoa

Serving: 2

Calories = 430 kcal, Protein = 19 g, Fat = 11 g, Carbs = 66 g

White beans are a fantastic addition to a vegan bodybuilder’s diet, as they offer numerous benefits for meeting your protein needs and supporting muscle growth. A one-cup serving of cooked white beans can provide around 15 grams of protein. This recipe is high in fiber, vitamins A, C, E, B2 and B6 as well as iron and calcium. It also takes less than 20 minutes to prepare.

Source : Hurry the food up, Hauke Fox

Vegan Tempeh Sandwich

Serving : 2

Calories = 547 kcal, Protein = 21 g, Fat = 32 g, Carbs = 51 g

Tempeh is a type of fermented soybean. As a plant-based protein source, tempeh has 21 grams of protein per every 3.5 oz serving. This Indonesia’s favorite also contains iron and other essential trace nutrients that help optimize oxygen transport to muscles. This tempeh sandwich recipe is a great addition to your diet. A must-try for all the vegan lifter readers.

Source : Hurry the food up, Dave Bell

Vegan Fajitas with tortillas

Servings: 4

Calories = 152 kcal, Protein = 14 g, Fat = 8.1 g, Carbs = 4.8 g

This Mexican recipe is a great addition to your bodybuilding recipes. It has colorful vegetables like sliced bell peppers, onions. Plant-based proteins such as tofu or seitan can also be included in this recipe.

This fajitas recipe is pretty amazing for how much protein it contains despite the low calories it has. Fajitas contain fiber content and also helps with controlling your weight. This could help give your physique some more definition and stabilize weight fluctuations. 

Source : Simple Vegan Blog, Iosune

Vegan Irish Stew

Servings : 6

Calories = 383 kcal, Protein = 35 g, Fat = 7 g, Carbs = 45 g

This vegan Irish stew has legumes, potatoes, and vegetables. All the vegetables stewed into warm and tasty goodness. These veggies also offer complex carbohydrates for sustained energy output during your lifting sessions. 

Lentils or chickpeas provide a whopping 35 grams of proteins. These veggies can be of use  in your muscle development. From my tryouts with this recipe, I definitely enjoy how hearty this stew is. The potatoes really add to the creaminess of the stew.


Source : The Curious Chickpea, Eva

Southwest Tofu Scramble

Servings : 3 ~ 4

Calories = 181 kcal, Protein = 15.6 g, Fat = 9.9 g, Carbs = 13.5 g

This southwest tofu scramble is another secret recipe I had up my sleeves. Not only was this recipe fast and easy to make, the 15.6 grams of protein in such a low calorie package is perfect for any vegan lifters looking to slim down while building muscle.

Veggie goodness such as bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes have the essential trace nutrients that are beneficial to the overall health and muscle function.

Source : The Simple Veganista 

Tofu Jambalaya

Servings : 6

Calories = 239 kcal, Protein =  12 g, Fat = 4.3 g, Carbs = 38 g

If you had been reading my blog, you would know that tofu is my go-to plant-based protein source.

This Louisiana-born recipe was given a new spin to it by going vegan. Similar to fried rice, you can really add any veggies to your liking.

Another big plus is that it has 38 grams of carbohydrates which supplies an ample amount of energy during your lifting sessions. It is an excellent choice of entrée dish for vegan lifters.

Source : Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Vegan Bodybuilding with High Protein Vegan Meals workout

Start your vegan bodybuilding journey now!

Looking to bulk up or cut down?

Our dietitians are specialized experts in helping vegan bodybuilders like yourself. Our specialty includes addressing potential nutrient deficiencies, optimizing your protein intake and balancing your macros. A high performer like you should leave the thinking part to us. We are firm believers in collaborations with professionals. 

Still hesitating? Schedule a discovery call today and see how we can help you.

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