UK Vegan bodybuilders Barny Du Plessis (Mr Universe 2014) and Josie Keck (former Strongest Woman in the UK) had much to celebrate on April 1st - they celebrated ten years together, one year since adopting the vegan lifestyle together, and they also got married!
So why do they have hearts of gold? Well, not only have they relentlessly advocated the benefits of a meatless diet over the last year, but they opted to spend their honeymoon doing exactly what they did on Christmas day: putting their muscle to good use by volunteering at their local animal sanctuary!
Over the last year they have used social media and their features in mainstream media to be very vocal advocates for veganism, most recently joining forces with PETA for a new ad campaign to promote healthy and humane living.
In the world of bodybuilding, largely dominated by whey protein and meat, Barny and Josie’s physiques clearly show that consuming countless animals is entirely unnecessary to build and maintain strong, world-class bodies, and that it’s a much better idea to fuel and build our bodies without the suffering and death of other bodies. And it’s also much better for our health and the planet too: in a recent study from Oxford University it’s estimated if the world went vegan it would save 8 million lives by 2050 and cut greenhouse gases by 66%.
Barny sums it up well:
“I truly believe that the only way we can ever survive as a species on this planet is to adopt a gentler, healthier, less-selfish approach to our existence, and that means adopting a vegan lifestyle.”
Barny and Josie are two of the many vegan bodybuilders and athletes helping to break the vegan stereotype all too commonly used in the media - that vegans aren’t able to build muscle and are weak and unhealthy. Those days are now dead and buried, and people are slowly starting to realise that plant-based nutrition not only helps you achieve your fitness goals, but replacing the meat with plant-based proteins reduces the risk of contracting many diseases that develop in middle age such as cardio vascular disease, strokes and cancer.
“I decided to become vegan namely due to the love of animals. The mass factory farming happening these days is just unethical and I don't believe in it. You do not need to eat meat to grow muscle - it's absolute bollocks. Protein is a protein no matter where it comes from. It gets broken down to amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle tissue.
So whether it comes from a nut or a chicken it's no greater or lesser protein. The body doesn't care where the protein comes from. Amino acids are amino acids. You do not need to eat or kill animals for your personal gain. It doesn't need to happen. You won't waste away being a vegan, in fact you'll be better than ever.”
Barny is correct - there's absolutely no need for animal protein in the diet. In fact, animal protein sources have been linked to a shockingly wide range of negative health effects from acne (see also here) to cancer, female infertility, infant sleep apnea, autism, Parkinson's, crib death, and premature puberty. Meat has been linked many times with a shorter life span. The presence of industrial carcinogens, xenoestrogens, arsenic, steroids and hormones in animal fat and protein may be partially to blame.
And why don't we hear more about all these negative effects of meat? In the last few years more information on the health benefits of giving up meat and adopting a plant-based diet is slipping into the mainstream, but the meat and diary industries are very powerful and have huge advertising budgets. They lobby hard to make sure they can always influence the governmental dietary guidelines. For instance, in 2014 the industry spent approximately $10.8 million in contributions to political campaigns, and another $6.9 million directly on lobbying the federal government.
Food is a package deal. You can’t get the protein in meat without the cholesterol, for example.
A study has shown that on average vegans are consuming over 70% more protein than they need per day - there's really no shortage - so cutting out animal protein and with it all the negative health effects just makes so much sense. Particularly when you consider how the animals live in terrible conditions suffering simply for our tastebuds.
So basically, if we can live happy and healthy lives without harming others... why wouldn't we?
So congratulations Barny and Josie on getting hitched! And congratulations for not being afraid of breaking the norm; pursuing what’s right and relentlessly fighting to make the world a better place.
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