Pumping Veganism, Ex-Mr. Universe Now a Weakling

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shutterstock_383449519 Bodybuilder via Shutterstock

So PETA has now enlisted a former Mr. Universe to its vegan cohort. Barnabas du Plessis, the 2014 standard bearer, says he switched to veganism about a year ago, and has never felt better in his life. That's nice. The only problem is with the hidden message — eat like I do and you'll be able to bulk up and win contests too.

Uh, excuse me — Mr. du Plessis won the Mr. Universe contest before he turned vegan. And one little detail is that if you want to show that A causes B, then A must precede B. Just sayin'.

So can one build muscle while abstaining from all animal-sourced foods? Sure — if you take the appropriate supplements such as vitamin B12 which is necessary for building new cells. And of course one would have to eat a lot of vegetable matter to get the large number of calories necessary to support the intense workouts that must underlie any attempt to attain a Mr. Universe-type physique. Iron and zinc are also essential for any muscle-building attempts, and may be lower than needed in a vegan diet.

Mr. du Plessis also makes some strange claims about other supposed benefits he derived from switching to a vegan diet.

For example, he says that hernias that bothered him before he went vegan are no longer a problem. But a hernia results from a defect in a muscle wall, and it's hard to see that such a defect can be fixed by anything short of surgery. He also has said that on a non-vegan diet his body was "too acidic." Not likely, since the pH of the blood is very tightly regulated — no way it would become acidic from anything eaten.

The upshot is that Mr. du Plessis is very happy with his veganism so far, so more power to him. But the idea that a vegan lifestyle can help others achieve a Mr. Universe-type physique is perhaps a subject for an April Fools' story.