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August 2006
Myth: Vegans are Wimps

Pumped Up!
The Satya Interview with Kenneth G. Williams


All right you non-believers, renowned vegan bodybuilder Kenneth G. Williams is stunning proof that vegans not only get enough protein, but that it is possible to build muscle on a vegan diet. Although initially ridiculed by his gym buddies, after placing third in the most prestigious natural bodybuilding award at the November 2004 Las Vegas Natural Olympia, Kenneth most certainly got the last laugh.

In addition to bodybuilding, Kenneth is deemed Mr. In Defense of Animals (IDA) and acts as their Vegan Campaigner. When not posing for IDA’s eye-catching “Go Vegan and No Body Gets Hurt” ads, Kenneth campaigns for IDA’s national Go Vegan Days, works with CHOICE (Citizens for Healthy Options in Children’s Education) and hosts Undercover TV, a show exposing the truth of animal abuse. On top of his full schedule, Kenneth is in training for the 2006 Natural Olympia.

Before his workout, Kenneth G. Williams took some time to speak with Maureen C. Wyse about commitment to animals and his sweet tooth.

First off, when and why did you go veg?
I went vegan about six years ago. It was more of a spiritual calling for me. I got up early one morning to get some chicken, rice and salad. I looked at my chicken and something hit me—I saw death. So, I scraped it off my plate, ate my rice and salad and went back to bed. Later, I woke up crying and I didn’t know why. And then it hit me—it was humility. And with the humility, responsibility kicked in. Now I see that my road is to let people know it is okay to be strong, compassionate and vegan.

How did that affect your bodybuilding?
When I decided to be a vegan bodybuilder my workout friends kind of laughed at me saying, “You can’t do that diet!” I told my wife, a holistic health teacher, the guys said I couldn’t build muscle on a vegan diet, and we got busy on some vegan foods. I just feel better in general. My recovery time got quicker. I sleep less. I’m more alert. And knowing that I don’t have to kill anything to eat is like going through different levels to get to the ultimate plane.

You recently generated a lot of attention after winning third place in the 2004 Natural Olympia, with over 200 other competitors, that a vegan could win such an award! What was your reaction?
I didn’t even know I was the first vegan bodybuilder to ever win until my wife told me. I was blown away. I was like, I can touch a lot of people. It was a real victory for vegans.

As a vegan bodybuilder, you also appear on billboards, full-page ads, covers of magazines and television. What’s your mission?
To bring awareness to the masses that being vegan is cool.

We certainly think veganism is cool. What connection do you make between taking off your shirt and generating awareness for animals?
I’m trying to reach the meat-eaters and dairy people—people who have constipated brains that need to be fixed. I think to reach the masses you have to do something that has never been done before. People want to see what is a vegan bodybuilder? It brings light to a situation and people will want to go vegan.

And how do you like juggling bodybuilding and animal activism?
I like it. I’m doing something for my body and for humanity. I sleep well knowing that I make a living doing something I really love and that I’m making a difference—at least I hope I’m making a difference.

What exactly do you eat?
I get up about three in the morning, have my first protein shake, and then wake up about six or seven to have my spirulina drink. I take my vitamin, and go work out. I come home and have another protein shake and pasta with tofu and broccoli. My wife and I cook all kinds of organic stuff. I also have my vegan junk food—cheesecake, soy ice cream, cookies, Powerbars. Give me an ice-cold glass of Silk soymilk and Uncle Eddie’s Molasses cookies and I’m good to go.

Vegan junk food, huh? There certainly are more not so healthy cruelty-free options for vegans today. What advice would you give to vegans—not just wanna-be bodybuilders—about their diets and lifestyles?
If you’re going to indulge in a lot of vegan sweets, work out. You can work out three days a week and be just fine. You just gotta do some resistance training, some cardio—vegans already have the right lifestyle down—and you’ll feel good when you want some junk food because you know tomorrow or the next day, you’ll go to the gym.

What about advice to meat-eating bodybuilders?
I’ve worked with a lot of professional bodybuilders who diet for about 90 days. With the dieting phase you wake up in the morning to have your pastas and chicken, and at two you have veggies and protein. But that dieting just cuts the body up. So these guys call me and say for their 90 days they want to eat vegan. So now they’re living a vegan lifestyle for 90 days, which is awesome because now they’re going to understand where I’m coming from. You don’t need steroids and things like that to build your body.

Would you like to add anything else?
Go vegan and no body gets hurt!

For more information on Kenneth Williams and vegan bodybuilding, visit


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