Build Muscle On a Vegan Diet

Build Muscle On a Vegan Diet: Beginners Guide

I’m sure you have all heard before that you cannot build muscle on a vegan diet.

You need meat, otherwise, you won’t get enough protein!

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Build Muscle On a Vegan Diet

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I’ve heard it too many times before.

While I myself am not a vegan, I do appreciate the vegan lifestyle. In fact, my girlfriend is vegan. It makes life so much easier when we are trying to decide on what to eat for dinner, NOT!

It’s actually really difficult sometimes, but we manage.

Anyways, end of my rambling.

I want to share with you what kind of foods you should be incorporating to make sure you are getting all of your necessary macros in (protein, fats, and carbohydrates). Yes, I did say PROTEIN!

This is probably the most important one I can cover because of how much controversy there is surrounding this subject. This is one myth that really bothers me.

You can’t get a complete source of protein from a plant-based diet alone!

This couldn’t be any further from the truth!

Our bodies need roughly 22 different types of amino acids (protein), but only 9 of those 22 amino acids are actually NOT produced by our body.

Yep, you heard correctly, the other 13 are produced IN THE BODY!

So, before you let someone convince you that you need meat, meat, meat, just remember that most of these nutrients are made by our body.

My vegan friends, you need not worry because the other nine can easily be found from… a plant-based diet!

Instead, you should be more worried about potential nutritional deficiencies that tend to occur by following a vegan diet. By the way, this has NOTHING to do with protein.

Nutritional Deficiencies You Should Be Aware Of

These deficiencies are vitamin B12, calcium, iron, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, and zinc. That being said, it is important to find a way to keep your body from being deficient in these nutrients.

An easy way around this is supplementing.

For vitamins such as B12, calcium, zinc, and iron, there are multi-vitamins that can easily be taken every day to help avoid these nutritional deficiencies. Just make sure to go with a reputable brand like Garden of life Multivitamins:

For omega 3’s, the most common way we get our daily requirements is through eggs and fish.

Obviously, this isn’t vegan-friendly. A couple of vegan-friendly options are chia seeds, flax-seeds (or flax-seed oil), walnuts, and hemp seeds.

Just make sure you keep your body fueled with these essential nutrients and you will have nothing to worry about.

Now that we’ve covered that…. let’s focus back on…

How to build muscle on a vegan diet

Let’s start with incorporating the correct protein sources.


Soy Products:

Tempeh (1/2 cup)                                      15.4 g

Tofu, Firm (1/2 cup)                                 10.2 g         

Soy Milk (1 cup)                                         9.2 g

Edamame (1/2 cup)                                    8.4 g


Lentils (1/2 cup)                          8.9 g

Peanut Butter (2 tbls)                    11.4 g

Chickpeas (1/2 cup)                       7.3 g

Kidney Beans (1/2 cup)                   7.7 g

Peanuts (1/3 cup)                              11.4 g

Black Beans (1/2 cup)                     7.6 g

Nuts & Seeds

Hemp Seeds (1/4 cup)                                 9.9 g

Pumpkin Seeds (1/4 cup)                              8.8 g

Almonds (1/4 cup)                                        7.6 g

Pistachios (1/4 cup)                        6.4 g

Sunflower Seeds (1/4 cup)                          6.2 g

Chia Seeds (1/4 cup)                                   6.6 g

There are some other great protein options, these are just a few you can choose from. One other REALLY great option is Seitan. It is soy free and very high in protein. Merely just half a cup packs around 30 grams of protein give or take.

The only problem with this particular protein is it’s primary makeup is wheat gluten, so if you have celiac or a gluten intolerance, this is NOT an option!

For those who can consume this great meat replacement, it is an AWESOME source for protein. If you are looking to pack in the same amount of protein but cannot consume wheat products, try using plant-based protein powders.


Some really great options for nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates are quinoa, brown rice, white rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, Yams (look just like sweet potatoes), pinto beans, black beans (yes, it’s a protein and a carb), and squash.

Fruits and vegetables are also needed to help build and tone up the body as well.

Just remember to not OVER DO IT WITH FRUITS! Fruits are naturally high in sugar, so your daily intake of fruit, while necessary, should only consist of 2 portions. This is equal to 2 cups of one particular fruit (berries for example), or 1 cup of two different types of fruit (what I would recommend.

Here are some you should be taking in daily


kiwi, watermelon, grapefruit, apples, bananas, avocado (yes, it’s a fruit), and berries.

While there are many other fruits to chose from, these are probably the best options getting your body on the right track, and these fruits are not as high on the glycemic index compared to some other fruits.

Now for the vegetables. You should be consuming roughly 2 ½ to 3 cups of vegetables per day. What does one cup look like? 

Not all vegetables are created equal. Some are much starchier than others. Depending on your goals (build muscle vs lose weight), certain ones may not be the correct selection for you. Your best bet is to stick to MOSTLY lean greens as they are great detoxifiers, low in sugar, carbs, and calories. I’m not saying ONLY green, just mostly.

Here is a list of some great veggies for toning up.


Beets (slightly high in sugar), spinach, parsley, mustard greens, kale, raw broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, carrots, bell peppers (green bells have the least amount of sugar).

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get the last one over with…


avocados, nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews), olives, olive oil (not for cooking), coconut oil (safe to cook with), flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and cacao nibs.

While it is recommended that roughly 15-20 percent of your calories should come from fat, roughly between 45-75 grams. This is obviously going to differ from person to person depending on their specific goals.

My suggestion?

Trying using this macro-calculator to help estimate your daily intake for all your macros, fats included.

Ok, so there you have it!

See, It’s not impossible to find the right foods for helping you build muscle on a vegan diet. So, the next time somebody tries telling you it can’t be done, remember what you’ve learned here today.

Alright, that sums up how to build muscle on a vegan diet! Trying to figure out a good workout routine can sometimes be difficult without the right help.

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