Are Vegans Stronger Than Meat Eaters?


If 2 people strength train and live the exact same way, but one eats a vegan diet and one doesn’t, will one be stronger than the other?

Assuming the diets are both well planned, they’ll have the same strength.

Muscle building and strength comes down to the nutrients in food, not the type of food itself.

It doesn’t matter if you get your protein from lentils or chicken, as long as you’re getting enough.

Although different protein sources have different amino acids in them, a well planned diet mixes multiple protein sources so that you get a full spectrum of essential amino acids, whether from plants or animals.

In theory, a vegan should be no stronger or weaker than a meat eater.

In reality, some people feel they get stronger after going vegan, while others feel they get weaker.

Reasons a Vegan Might Feel Weaker Than When They Ate Meat

If you’re feeling significantly weaker after going vegan, there’s something wrong with your diet.

A lot of people get very defensive their nutritional knowledge for some reason, but you need to accept that you may be doing something wrong.

Typically when I’ve heard stories of vegans feeling weak, it comes from non-weight lifters who have spent next to zero time actually studying nutrition.

They usually have an obvious issue like:

  • Not eating enough – A lot of vegan foods have extra fiber, which means it’s easy to eat less than you’re used to if you’re not paying attention to caloric intake.
  • A vitamin or mineral deficiency – Some vitamins are harder to get on a vegan diet, and you may need to take certain supplements like iron or vitamin D (on top of vitamin B12).
  • Stress – Some vegans get stressed about animal welfare, others are stressed about maintaining their diet or being in new awkward social situations. Stress has a negative effect on most things, including those surrounding strenght and energy levels.

Finally, while it’s typically not a big deal, vegans don’t get creatine from their food. If you’re a powerlifter, you might want to consider getting a vegan creatine supplement.

Reasons a Vegan Might Feel Stronger Than When They Ate Meat

There are also many stories of vegans feeling stronger than before.

The science is still unclear about most of these things, but it’s possible that being vegan results in better performance for certain people.

Here are the main reasons why:

  • Lower inflammation levels and faster recovery – These are common benefits that multiple vegan NBA players have cited. Personally, I didn’t feel this, but I’m nowhere as large as an NBA player, and they are more prone to inflammation issues in the first place.
  • Feel like they have more energy and feel lighter – This is another thing that people often report after going vegan. There’s no evidence that clearly explains if this is true or just a placebo.

  • More motivated to work hard – Since many people think that vegans are weaker, vegans who weight lift often feel more motivated to work hard and break stereotypes.

In summary, a person on a vegan diet can be just as strong, maybe stronger, than an omnivore. Maybe not as strong as gorillas though, who are essentially vegetarians.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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