Name: Alexander Dargatz
Height: 186cm (6'1”)
Weight: approx. 86kg at the moment (190lbs)
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Current Residence: Frankfurt, Germany
Why did you become vegan?
In short: for ethical, ecological, spiritual and healthy reasons (in that order)! *laughs*
I read a couple of good books and realized the ethical implications of eating meat and the countless other ways of abusing animals and nature. It made me cry. There simply is no need for us to consume animal products and we cause a lot of harm by doing so; that is the definition of crime. I couldn't be anything else but vegan after understanding that.
When and why did you become interested in bodybuilding?
I guess that was when I was 16. I had bad knees and wasn't good in most sports, except swimming, but when we did push-ups in school, I was among the best. So I started doing push-ups and sit-ups everyday. After a year or so I added some dumbbells and ultimately I was hooked
I continued to workout in our basement, until I joined a gym nearby at the age of 18. The problems with my knees also vanished when I strengthened my leg muscles, and I was finally able to enjoy other sports such as running and martial arts as well.
I just love bodybuilding! I love working out, I love lifting weights, and I love being exhausted afterwards. I love every aspect about it. That's the way it should be for everyone there's a sport that suits him/her. For me, it's always been Bodybuilding, though I still enjoy others, like swimming and martial arts.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
Program? *laughs* I don't really have a program anymore! I used to be very strict on my diet before becoming vegan, but now I just eat whatever I can find, as long as it is vegan
Nutrition science has always fascinated me and been a hobby long before I started studying.
I have some guidelines, but no actual “program”. I don't eat industrial foods and try to eat as much organic food as possible. I never eat anything that has artificial flavour, preservatives, hydrogenated fat, flavour enhancer or that sort of crap in it. In general, I try to eat fresh and nutritious vegan foods, lots of fruits and veggies, nuts, lentils, seeds and so on, and add protein to it (soy and wheat products). I also enjoy vegan treats, but I try not to eat too many sweets (except self-baked cakes).
How would you describe your training program?
That varies. Some principles stay the same, though. I tend to do too much, so I design programs that prevent me from exaggerating. I do training cycles that last 6-8 weeks, after that I change my program again. I favour whole-body workouts, but I also enjoy split training. I prefer heavy weights, but I know the benefits of high reps also, so I do them both.
What kind of supplements do you use?
Not many, really. I believe supplements are overrated. They can never replace a healthy diet and when youe diet is healthy, you don't need them. At the moment I take only a multivitamin/mineral tablet per day, brewer's yeast and creatine. I'm still not sure about the efficiency of creatine, though. I take it in cycles of 6 weeks.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Oh yeah, there are some. Those false ideas keep a lot of people from becoming vegan, that's why it's so important to make the truth commonly known.
One popular wrong notion is that vegans are frail and skinny. *laughs* My power has increased since becoming vegan, especially my endurance, and I almost never get ill anymore. It's true that I lost some pounds, but to most people that would mean no harm
Another misconception is that veganism means to eat only grass and fruits all day. It couldn't be further from the truth! People imagine their usual meal without the meat, the dairy and the eggs, and wonder what's left. But there is a whole new world of taste to discover and savor! I really learned to cook, and nobody could say “No” to my girlfriend's vegan Tiramisu!
What do you think the most important aspect of bodybuilding is?
Patience. Patience and perseverance. Bodybuilding takes time, you cannot force your muscles to grow. You can't make them grow twice as fast by eating twice as much, or working out twice as much. It takes time, persistance, dedication and love of what you're doing.
What do you like best about being vegan?
Everything! I was the best choice I ever made in my life to become vegan! I enjoy every single meal. I also love the communication with like-minded people, people who are compassionate and optimistic. The atmosphere at vegan gatherings is incredible, so peaceful and energetic.
What do you like best about bodybuilding?
Everything! *laughs* Yes, I love it.
I have to think on that, what do I like BEST? Probably the workout itself. I like lifting heavy weights and feeling strong. I like putting up new personal bests.
Another great thing about being a vegan bodybuilder is that you can eat everything without getting fat I love to eat, too, so that pair is really unbeatable! ;D
What are your best muscle groups for bodybuilding and strength.
My upper body, excluding the arms. My chest is my best bodypart, and my lats and abs are okay, too. My shoulders are weakest, followed by calves and every other body part really.
What advice do you have for bodybuilders who are just starting out?
Keep it simple.
As a beginner, you don't need a stack of supplements, a complicated training program and a nutrition plan. Just work out regularly and make sure that you are improving by writing down your training weights in a log.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Don't think about it, do it. I became vegan from one day to the other, I think it's the best way.
For information, search the internet, join a vegan forum. If you want to, there a tons of good books around veganism. If you know people who are already vegan, maybe you can learn from them. And cooking together is fun.
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan bodybuilder?
My love to the sport. And I feel the need to prove that vegans are neither frail, nor skinny, nor weak! In every workout I compete against every other bodybuilder on the planet. Meat-eaters and roid-users alike. The former have no advantage on me, the latter I can only pity.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
I always thought I must be the only natural vegan bodybuilder in the world
It's so great to meet the vegans here on the board, joining from all over the world, discussing and chatting. There are quite a few great athletes here, and it motivates me to compete with them as friends. We'll prove true vegan power!
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan bodybuilding lifestyle?
Those two things, bodybuilding and being vegan, are the two best things in my life. They define who I am, in body and spirit. That doesn't mean my life is all about my workout and eating, but I find my strength in life in those two aspects.
Veganism is about love and respect to your environment, and bodybuilding is about love and respect to yourself.
Thanks Alex! You are awesome!
The Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness Team
To contact Alex, write: [email protected]