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:
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.