Jerry Brainum believes it is completely possible to be vegan and still succeed as a competitive bodybuilder.

As the world and culture evolves, veganism has grown in popularity for a variety of reasons. It’s been deemed more and more as a more healthy dietary option. It’s also seen as a moral imperative to save the suffering of animals in factory farms. There have also been studies stating veganism on a larger level can help the environment. But for bodybuilding, is going vegan a realistic option? Can a bodybuilder succeed on the pro stage without eating meat? Those guys that want to be on the Mr. Olympia stage need massive amounts of protein, which leaves many wondering if veganism is sustainable for professional bodybuilders. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Jerry Brainum pulls on past research and studies to help prove that a bodybuilder can succeed on a vegan diet.

We’ve interviewed a few pro bodybuilders in the past about vegan diets. Specifically, we wanted to see if it was possible that a bodybuilder can succeed competitively without eating meat. Most of them find it to be nearly impossible, or just not possible at all. Certainly, a person can build some form of an impressive physique, but most believe it cannot reach the heights of muscle mass required to really leave an impression on the pro stage. However, Jerry Brainum seems to disagree with the idea that vegan bodybuilders cannot do well in the sport.

During our conversation with Jerry Brainum via video conference, we asked about his vegan diet. He explains that his (almost) vegan choice is more due to morals than dietary health, as he finds the almost vegan diet to be a bit more humane. But aside from the morality of being vegan, Jerry has found some interesting things in his research learning about veganism – he’s come across some compelling evidence that suggests a bodybuilder can go all vegan with no sacrifice to muscle.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that a bodybuilder can simply eat animal free products and look like Brandon Curry. Modern science has provided a wide range of supplements to not only make up for the protein that would be missed without meat, but also the minerals and nutrients necessary as well.

According to Jerry Brainum, there are enough supplements, vitamins, and nutrient products available in today’s landscape to fully get everything a bodybuilder needs – all without eating meat.

Can Vegan Bodybuilders Have Good Detail?

Fine lines and details in the muscle mass is something that is extremely important for success in bodybuilding, and past bodybuilders have discussed how certain meats provide texture to the final look of the muscle. During the conversation, Vlad follows up by asking if something will get lost in the details. Perhaps a vegan bodybuilder can go pro and place decently well. But is it possible for a vegan bodybuilder become a Mr. Olympia champion? Would that detail be lost by focusing on just a vegan diet and supplements?

Jerry Brainum believes it call comes down to science. He admits that in order to be a truly successful vegan bodybuilder – a lot more research would have to be done regularly to ensure every single element is firing on all cylinders. So it seems, being a vegan bodybuilder puts you at a disadvantage in one specific way – the pure amount of time you need to focus on your diet more than other competitors.

Bodybuilding diets are already strict and insanely detailed. To add even more complications on top of that can add extreme stress to be sure. So if a bodybuilder is truly passionate about being vegan (for health, morals, or otherwise), they will have to work harder than nearly every other bodybuilder in the league.

Perhaps to some that is worth it. But it also explains why you don’t see very many vegan bodybuilders on the stage. Everyone who competes and goes pro wants to be the best. Adding a vegan diet into the mix can be on thing too many that tip the scales away from champion status.

Maybe sometime down the line this will change as the culture continues to evolve. But for now, while it seems possible to succeed as a vegan bodybuilder, we don’t expect to see too many popping up anytime soon.

You can watch Jerry Brainum explain in full detail in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Greg Patuto
Greg has covered the four major sports for six years and has been featured on sites such as Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, SB Nation,, and FanSided. Now, he is transitioning into the world of bodybuilding and strength sports.