Joel Kirkilis is a bodybuilder, animal activist, longtime vegan and most importantly a very nice guy! We spoke with him this week about his vegan journey (so far) and got his take on vegan fitness and strength. Enjoy our chat with Joel.
How long have you been vegan and how did your journey start?
I have been vegan for over 13 years. I initially tried it as a means of getting healthy after years of not looking after my health at all. After a while I decided to begin bodybuilding and went back to eating some animal products, however, something didn’t sit right with me, it felt like it was going against my ethics. I made the decision to see if I could start this training journey as a vegan and have never looked back.
That was obviously a great decision for you! What do you do now in terms of ‘activism’ for the vegan movement?
As much as my training is a form of activism, my other form of activism is going to slaughterhouses and giving water and love to the animals being trucked in, documenting it and sharing it. I have been visiting for the last 6 years.
That’s incredibly hard but important work you do at the slaughterhouse, well done.
In terms of vegan health & fitness, what are some foods or supplements you think are great for maintaining vegan strength?
Along with B12, Vitamin D, and algal DHA, I would suggest creatine monohydrate and beta alanine. Both of these may be lacking in a vegan diet and may have a positive influence on training performance.
Meat eaters often claim you can’t maintain muscle on a vegan diet, what is your most common response to this kind of question or thinking?
I have always said that consistency and variety of the protein source is the key, so getting a variety of plants will provide the body with the building blocks to grow. I believe that getting in enough good fats is just as important as protein, ensuring optimal hormone levels are maintained.
If someone who ‘lifts’ is thinking about going vegan, what advice would you give them?
Try out a variety of protein sources, tempeh, tofu, lentils, black beans, lentil burgers, mock meats etc, then choose the favourite three, four or five to base meals around and rotate them through a weekly meal plan. Add in the fats, vegetables, fermented foods, and starchy carbohydrates and there is a muscle building meal there. Variety, yet simplicity is the key, so making muscle building meals can be a relatively simple process but one which will create positive physical changes.
What are some of your favourite vegan brands?
What is your vegan cheat meal?
Sweet – ice cream, usually a sorbet. Savoury – pizza or nachos. Hard to choose one thing!
Best vegan restaurant or cafe in Melbourne?
Who should we interview next?
My friend Matthew Sipala
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Joel. If you would like to see how a vegan bodybuilder works out every single day, be sure to follow Joel’s Instagram Account Here for all his tips and footage.