Why after 3 years of being vegetarian I gave it up for bodybuilding

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I am a buddhist at heart - it hurts me more if I was to hurt others.

On boxing day in Dec 2014, I finally made the decision to become vegetarian. I had been procrastinating this for too long and I had to go cold turkey. It made me happy knowing I was making progress into my spiritual journey. It wasn't easy, actually it was very hard to live this lifestyle. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian which meant I consumed eggs/dairy but no meat (no chicken/lamb/fish or any other meat).

Being a true vegan was too big of a jump for me and having eggs/milk in my diet helped me meet my protein requirements. When I would meet my friends, I would have to think carefully where we were going to eat out and if there was no suitable place, I would have to bring my own veg food. It wasn't a problem to be honest and my friends/family respected my decision and would adjust their cooking for me (bless them), not that I demanded this but they'd do that for my sake.

Not being able to be in a calorific surplus

I'm naturally skinny. I wanted to change that. To put on some muscle and to look good in my own skin and not have my clothes look baggy on me.

You need to be eating a little bit more to increase your lean body weight. It's usually 20% of your daily calorie intake. So if you see your weight hasn't changed in a while, then you'd count how many calories you're having in a day and surplus that to put on weight. I'm not going into the details of this as it deserves a post of its own (which I'll write soon).

Anyway, I am not a big eater to start off with. I get full quite quickly. I found I didn't have much appetite for the vegetarian dishes I was cooking. It was plain and I was having to force feed myself most of the time. I hated this. Sometimes I'd be able to meet my calorific surplus and other times no. My nutritional requirements were inconsistent and I wasn't making much progress with putting on size.

Issues I was facing

When I sat down to think about the situation I was in, I observed the following:

Eating the same food over and over again diminished my appetite

I tried planning ahead and would prepare food for lunch/dinner to eat for the following day and day after but honestly you really get bored of eating the same thing and with my body accustomed to function on tiny meal portions since birth, I always felt it natural to eat less than more.

I am not great cook

Okay I know how to cook a few nice meals for sure but I'm not a chef. At the very least, I needed to have a balanced diet. More importantly, I needed to be consuming enough protein to sustain the muscle growth. Try eating pulses day in/day out and you'll know the feeling. I was buying all sorts of beans - pinto beans, butterbeans, lentils, kidney beans, yellow peas etc but the meal I was making was not very appetising. I dreaded meal times.

Not enough time in the day

I have a 1.5hrs commute to work each way (provided I don't get stuck in traffic which happens on most days) and by the time I get home, I'm already knackered and don't have the energy left to cook myself a nice meal. I have to fit in exercising, on top of looking after my side business plus the other activities in my life. There's so much you can do in a day!

Plant protein is expensive

Whey which is derived from milk is cheaper (even if you were to buy the top branded products like Optimum Nutrition). Vega, a popular choice amongst vegans, costs around £25 for 500g and for that price I can get double the amount of whey. It's not like you buy a tub and that's it; you have to consume quite a lot of protein so the bills become very significant quickly.

Giving up vegetarianism


I knew I was spreading myself too thin. You see when actors do it, they have a team supporting them. Food is cooked by top chefs and calorie intake per meal already calculated for them. I was having to do this myself. When they are training, they have the encouragement of great mentors and they are focusing on pretty much just one thing - getting in shape for their role. If I was doing just one (or two) things at a time, then it wouldn't be so much of an inconvenience. But this is real life for normal people that we are talking about here. I have a lot of other things to take care of. And I'm not wealthy enough (yet!) to delegate these to other people.

Conflict of Interest

A decision had to be made. I had to choose between building up my body or letting go of the vegetarian diet. It wasn't easy. I spent weeks contemplating what was more important to me. In the end I chose bodybuilding.

It would be more convenient for me if I started eating meat again as I could easily get meals from pretty much anywhere. I wouldn't have to worry so much about making my own meals. It would take off a lot of stress from me. My plan was to build my body up to a certain level and then go back to being vegetarian.

Growing muscles is a difficult thing just like any other creation in life. Out of nothing, you're trying to make something new, something that was not there in the first place. Destruction is much easier. I believe losing fat is relatively easier than growing muscle because to destroy something takes less energy than to create it. That's why a nuclear bomb can do so much damage in a very short amount of time but it takes nature centuries to repair the damage and bring the life back.

Does this not go against what I believe in

I'm not the purest soul on this planet I have to admit and I also still have some clinging to the material world. I have a vision in my head that keeps me awake at night and I need this realised for both me and other people.

Achieving a body of my liking is something I've always wanted to do, it will give me satisfaction (this is the selfish part of me). Using myself as guinea pig and writing about my experiences as I chisel my physique is what I'm giving away to others. I'm hoping what I will be sharing will help skinny guys overcome their inferiority complex and stop them being bullied, long after I'm gone.

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices in life, this is mine.

gices Level 6
I'm a Software Developer and the co-founder of Clever Dodo. Born in Mauritius and now living in the UK, I usually blog about fitness, music, spirituality and driving topics to pass on my knowledge.
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