A vegan victory
Former Mr New Zealand Dusan Dudas is proof that a vegan diet can provide enough protein for even elite athletes.
The Forrest Hill vegan body builder has maintained his physique on a diet entirely void of meat and dairy.
"There is no reason why an All Black couldn't be vegan as long as his diet is maintained properly," he says.
"If a gorilla can be that powerful on plant protein then a human can be too."
Mr Dudas has been bodybuilding since the age of 17 and has won multiple titles in Europe and Australasia.
"I began because I was a very skinny teenager. It was a huge handicap for me and I desperately wanted to be bigger."
Mr Dudas won his first competition within six months of training in his home land of Slovakia without the use of modern aids like supplements and steroids.
Mr Dudas says it is now very rare for young men to build muscle without artificial assistance.
He says steroid use is getting worse and worse every year in New Zealand as young men endeavour to get big quick.
"When you go to the gym you see these guys who are impatient. They want to look good in a few months and there is so much competition regarding appearance."
Many steroids on the market are identical to those used by farmers on their animals, he says.
"These guys don't realise that they are doing permanent damage to their bodies. A male is not an adult until he is 23. If he uses steroids before then he is ruining his natural hormone levels."
Mr Dudas says it is all unnecessary if people commit to a healthy diet.
There are many professional athletes that swear by a vegan diet including NFL players, ultra-marathon runners and power lifters.
Mr Dudas says there is a common misconception that plant protein is second class and that all vegans are skinny, weaklings.
"Animal protein is processed. Animals eat plants and then we eat them. Raw protein is best."
Vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli, nuts, seeds and grains can provide the building blocks for a strong and powerful physique, he says.
Mr Dudas moved to New Zealand in 1994 and says he encountered severe heart problems that saw him hospitalised on more than one occasion.
"They wanted to put me on medication, but I refused," he says.
It was then he decided to overhaul his diet and less than a fortnight after turning vegan he says his problems disappeared.
"I started sleeping better, I wasn't snoring and my heart problems went away," he says.
He won his third title as a full vegan in 2009, surprising much of the New Zealand bodybuilding fraternity.
Mr Dudas admits he was an avid meat eater for many years but now says he would never consider turning back.
He has written a book, Naturally Amazing, as a guide to training on a vegan diet and runs a personal training business out of his home gym in Forrest Hill.
North Shore Times