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VEGAN BODYBUILDING & FITNESS Review
 + Lentil Sweet Potato Loaf Recipe!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve admired the athletic bodies of models who graced the pages of fitness magazines and always wondered just how possible it was to sculpt a perfect physique like theirs.

I’ve read a variety of fitness magazines and health books in recent years. I know how much diet effects body weight and how much protein one must consume in order to see any kind of muscle gains.

As a vegan, I’m no stranger to people asking me where I get my protein from (aren’t we all?) and to be honest, I admit I probably haven’t always consumed adequate amounts of protein in my 24 years without meat in my diet.

So a couple of months ago (could’ve had something to do with turning the big 3-0), I decided to challenge myself and start training for my first-ever fitness competition. My success would not be necessarily based on winning the competition but rather adhering to my own three rules: 1) I was going to do this on a strict vegan diet. 2) I was going to do it 100% natural (without the help of fat burners, steroids or whatever else weird crap some bodybuilders use to get leaner/more shredded.) And 3) no backing out—no matter how hard it gets or how disgusting I look with a spray tan.

Naturally, when my pals at The Vegan Project asked me to review Robert Cheeke’s book “Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness,” I accepted.

The original “pioneer” of vegan bodybuilding, I was already a fan of Robert Cheeke’s www.veganbodybuilding.com website so was eager to learn all I could from him as I embarked on my own little vegan bodybuilding adventure.

First off, let it be known that this book is incredibly informative and I still regularly reference it for meal planning ideas. It’s also incredibly inspiring and touching to hear how one vegan activist has turned his love of fitness into quite the empire!

In just a few years, Robert Cheeke literally went from being a skinny kid to an INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Champion. His website has also fast become the go-to onlinespot for thousands of vegan athletes worldwide. In fact, I’m proud to say that I just ordered my very own “Vegan Bodybuilding” tank top which I will be rocking at my gym very soon, representing my plant-lovin’peeps!

You can’t help but fall in love with the author and feel his passion and kind nature through his writing. In fact, the book is dedicated “to the billions of lives lost because of our irresponsible, mistreatment of animals.” Awwwww! There is also fantastic advice on how to take bodybuilding beyond a personal endeavor and use it for activism and outreach.

“Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness” not only includes a lot of info on diet and training regimens, but what I found the most interesting were the chapters on marketing. Being a “marketing manager” myself, I LOVE that he touched on the importance of marketing yourself, standing out in the crowd and how to land sponsorship and turn bodybuilding into a career!

He also gives suggestions on his favourite vegan vendors for everything from clothes and exercise equipment to supplements and restaurants. In fact, I later emailed Robert asking for restaurant suggestions for a Los Angeles trip I was taking and he wrote back with some awesome ideas!

Also super helpful—throughout the book, Robert likes to include “top 10 lists” and summaries to conclude sections and I really enjoyed that “recap” aspect.

My only small criticism would be on the meal plan section and more specifically the portion sizes. Yes, Robert is a bodybuilder and he’s showing us what HE eats, who is obviously going to be eating A LOT more than me who’s training for the bikini division “tight & tiny” look. But it would’ve been cool if he had included a sample meal plan for female fitness competitors too.

All in all though, this book definitely gave me the extra push needed to keep going forward. I’ve been training hard for just over two months now. I’m not going to lie—it’s A LOT of time, work and effort. But I know I can do it. And believe it or not, it IS possible to get enough protein! Below is a super delish, high-protein lentil loaf recipe from Robert’s www.veganbodybuilding.com forum (perfect for pre-competition training.) Enjoy!

Lentil Sweet Potato Loaf (vegan, gluten free if you use certified GF oats, soy free)

Ingredients: Serves 10

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 tsp salt (+more to taste)

2 3/4 c vegetable broth (or water)

1 cup lentils

1.5 cups grated sweet potato

1 cup rolled oats

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp rosemary

1/4 cup organic tomato paste

Organic ketchup (optional)

Method:

1) Heat coconut oil in a large pot, and sautee the onions and celery until soft and the onions are browning — about 8-10 minutes.

2) Add lentils and vegetable broth to the pot, along with grated potatoes.

3) Cook mixture on a simmer until broth has absorbed and lentils are very tender–about 30 minutes.

4) Stir in oats and remove mixture from heat. Add spices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Texture should be very thick, but pliable. If you think it needs to be drier, add some more oats; if it’s too dry, add a little water.

5) Press mixture into a loaf pan. Brush with ketchup if desired. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife finds it firm. If the top starts to brown, cover with foil midway through.

The loaf also makes for some pretty superb leftovers! Recipe originally from http://www.choosingraw.com/lentil-and-sweet-potato-loaf/

Courtesy of Guest Blogger, Samantha (Salsa Sam) Shorkey!

~The Vegan Project

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