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PlantBuilt Vegan Bodybuilding Team Showdown


Last weekend HappyCow member, Christy, shared the stage with a group of vegans that formed to compete in a natural bodybuilding show in Austin called the Naturally Fit Super Show. It would be the largest gathering of vegans at a bodybuilding show ever.

Though I wasn’t on the team I thought it would be a fun goal to work toward and I busted my butt in the gym to attempt to get in the best shape of my life. I succeeded and talk about my journey on my blog if you want to check it out! It was a fun-filled weekend and the PlantBuilt team took home most the trophies! I sat down with Giacomo Marchese, mastermind behind the team and co-owner of VeganProteins.com, to talk more about the competition.

HC: What inspired you to form PlantBuilt?

Although vegan bodybuilders have shared the stage together in the past, there has never been a large scale gathering of the vegan masses. Our mission was to foster a welcoming environment to recruit new talent alongside seasoned veterans in vegan bodybuilding and form a vegan muscle team. The goal was to infiltrate a bodybuilding competition together with so many talented vegan athletes that our accomplishments on a cruelty-free diet simply could not be denied. This past weekend we smashed the myths that we are at a disadvantage and proved that a vegan diet can put you at the top of your game, provided you do the work. Due to the overwhelming effectiveness of our activism, we are already planning and recruiting our vegan muscle team for the next meet up in 2014! Instant bonds were formed on this trip and our efforts were that much stronger in a group setting due to the camaraderie fostered from each and every competitor. I knew this was going to be a success and something big as everything came together but the results far exceeded my expectations, even though I set the bar very high.


HC: How many competitions have you been in before and how did you do in this competition? How did the team do as a whole?

I have been in 3 competitions before this one and for this show, I was definitely in the best conditioning I’ve ever been in for a show. There were approximately 150 competitors from various backgrounds and we showed up with 14 competitors who hit the stage. We absolutely dominated the show, locking down 4 of the top 10 overall winner spots. Bodybuilder Torre Washington won the lightweight division and the Men’s Qverall bodybuilding title, Derek Tresize who also won his division earning him a spot in the finals. Bodybuilder Sara Russert won her lightweight division and the Women’s Overall bodybuilding title. Figure competitor Pam Kalstad won her division and overall title, earning her pro status, and bodybuilder Will Tucker won his division and overall title for master’s bodybuilding (over 40 years of age). Bodybuilders Austin Barbisch and Marcella Torres finished second in their divisions and Giacomo Marchese finished 3rd in men’s middleweight bodybuilding. Figure competitor Stephanie Rice finished runner up and Tiffany Burich followed in 3rd. Men’s physique models Ed Bauer and Chad Byers finished second and third of two dozen competitors. Mindy Collette placed in the top 5 in the bikini tall class of a dozen plus competitors. Yolanda Presswood and Christy Morgan both had powerful display’s of vegan muscle and grace in the bikini short class, which had even more competitors.

HC: What is your favorite thing about competing?

The discipline involved and changes to your body that happen as a result of it. Although it is unhealthy to stay in competition shape for more than a couple of weeks out of the year, when you are show ready, your presence is powerful, along with the message you are there to make. Ours is of course to show what is possible on a vegan diet and to inspire others to make the switch to a compassionate lifestyle. Competing is my outlet to make a statement and create awareness for a vegan lifestyle.


HC: Do you feel that you have advantages as a vegan competing in the world of bodybuilding? What are some of those? What are some of the disadvantages if any?

The obvious advantages are that plant-based food is loaded with nutrition and is cholesterol free. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, meals are much easier to digest and micronutrient rich foods are simply a superior source of fuel for your body. Sure you can survive on less but wouldn’t you want to nourish yourself with the most nutrient dense food all the time? I don’t see any disadvantages to competing in bodybuilding or any sport for that matter on a vegan diet. It is quite the opposite.


HC: I know you have to eat a pretty strict diet to get ready for a bodybuilding competition. What kind of treats did you eat post show?

Post competition, I give myself a week to eat as much I want, even if it isn’t what I normally eat on a weekly basis. It is a pretty common practice amongst bodybuilders and a mini celebration of sorts for all the hard work dieting down. Afterwards, it’s back to the meal plan to prepare for your next competition season or show. We all agreed on various vegan cupcakes, cheesecakes and cinnamon buns from Capital City Bakery. They were nice enough to custom deliver some sweet treats after the finals to us and boy were we happy about it (as you can see from the photo above)!!!

HC: What was your favorite vegan establishment you visited in Austin and why?

This is a tough questions because there are so many great places in Austin that are vegan friendly. To narrow it down though, our two favorite spots and food choices from each are: Arlo’s Food Truck and their vegan bacon cheeseburger and Sweet Ritual vegan ice cream parlor’s peanut butter chocolate sundaes with all the fixins. I believe we stopped by both of these establishments two days in a row after the show because they were that good!


HC: Do you use HappyCow.net or our phone app when traveling to find the best vegan restaurants? How is it helpful?

We use HappyCow online as well as the app on our phones and find it to be the gold standard in searching for veg-friendly restaurants no matter where you are. It is better than just finding a search of veg friendly places on a site like say, Yelp, because HappyCow rates just how veg-friendly each establishment is and it’s catered to the veg community.

Don’t forget to leave reviews for your favorite establishments on HappyCow.net!

Big Congrats to the PlantBuilt team and thank you for taking the time to speak with us and for all your hard work making the world a better place for the animals! If you’d like to donate to the 2014 team they are accepting donations through their website where you could buy a vegan muscle team t-shirt, too.

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