Name: Ahmed El-Ghandour
Birthplace: Sao Paolo, Brazil
Current Residence: Rockville, Maryland
Sports: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (black belt)
I started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) around 1994 in Sao Paola. In 2001, I became vegetarian after a friend I trained with in Brazil said it made him feel better. (He is now a black belt as well). I tried it and stuck with it, but I really felt the difference when I went vegan in 2002. I made the transition to veganism after a new student—who was vegan—started at our academy. I had already been reading about how animals are mistreated in meat, egg, and dairy production, so I was ready to take the step. In 2006, I received my black belt from Fernando Yamasaki (www.grappling.com).
I've been the same weight for the last ten years—no change after becoming vegetarian or vegan. I've never tried to gain weight—I'm at a good strength level and size for jiu-jitsu. My diet and training regimen can be adapted for someone looking to add muscle mass by replacing two of the BJJ classes with weight lifting sessions, and adding two or more protein shakes (30 grams) a day.
- BJJ -- six days a week
- Boxing — once a week
- Strength and conditioning class — twice a week
- Teach BJJ -- two classes a week
Sample Meal Plans
- Breakfast: bagel with hummus and spinach
- Lunch: homemade beans and rice with soy sausage
- Snack: protein bar
- Dinner: Pasta with tomato sauce, salad (spinach, corn, tomato, hearts of palm)
- Breakfast: cereal (Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Multibran) with soymilk (Silk)
- Lunch: sushi (avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, etc.), miso soup, seaweed salad
- Snack: protein bar
- Dinner: Gardenburger “BBQ Riblets” or “Chik'n Grill” patty on hamburger buns, salad
Snacks: soy yogurt, nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, granola bars.
- A vegan multivitamin just to cover my bases.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Some people become vegan really quickly, and others may transition over several years. Do what works for you. There is a lot of great vegan food out there, and it will take a while for you to find what you like, and works best for your body. If you need inspiration to stick to it, remind yourself of the ways animals are mistreated by watching the undercover footage you can find online. A good book to read is “Slaughterhouse” by Gail Eisnitz.