Veganism and bodybuilding: an alignment

I couldn’t help but notice in The Straits Times the other day that two Singaporean female bodybuilders – Rinn Farina and Sue Suharni – were both awarded gold medals at the World Body Building & Physique Sports Championships in Mumbai. This news first surprised me – Singapore is not really known for its sporting prowess outside of table tennis and badminton – and then reminded me of a video I watched a few months ago. The video is by PETA, and showcases Jim Morris – a vegan bodybuilder who, unbelievably, is 77 (now 78) years old.

Jim’s views on the benefits of veganism from a bodybuilding standpoint are interesting, and clearly put forth. Contrary to the divergence that many people may wrongly assume, there is a clear alignment between veganism and bodybuilding. Indeed, not just bodybuilding, but any sort of body-awareness, discipline and respect. After all, you don’t have to be building your body in order to be in control of it. Such alignment is threefold:

  1. Both veganism and bodybuilding require discipline, mindfulness and body-awareness – in other words, they both require their practitioners to be aware of their bodies, how they feel, and how they respond to various stimuli (notably food and resistance training)
  2. Both veganism and bodybuilding require the careful planning of diet (and exercise) – meal and snack plans are thought about in advance in order to minimise reactive, impulsive eating based on cravings and other mental fallacies (or weaknesses)
  3. Both veganism and bodybuilding require disruptive attitudes and behaviours – it is not good enough to just go with the flow and follow the path of least resistance (or the path into which you are co-opted by your friends or family); both disciplines are about challenging norms, taking control of your mind and body, and working everyday to achieve a higher purpose

Veganism has nothing to do with weakness, femininity or being ‘difficult’. It is about aligning your mind and body with a belief system that enables you to achieve the best possible outcomes for yourself, and for other sentient beings as well. I am not a vegan, nor am I a bodybuilder. But for me the alignment between the two disciplines – and that’s exactly what they are – disciplines, philosophies, value-systems… – is one that is as obvious as it is compelling. The sooner more people realise this, the better.

See also:
Slightly longer (14:28) documentary on Jim Morris by Ryan Vance
Jim Morris’s personal site
The World Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Federation
The Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness website


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