Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Power plant: Meet the vegan strongman busting myths about health and diet

The ‘Vegan Badass’ was nervous about ditching animal protein and maintaining his incredible strength

Samuel Webb
Sunday 23 January 2022 18:11 GMT
Watch 'world's strongest vegan' flip a car

Powerlifter Patrik Baboumian has won the title of Germany’s Strongest Man and was seen flipping a car onto its roof in Netflix documentary The Game Changers.

He’s also vegan.

Now the 42-year-old Iranian-born German works to inspire the next generation of athletes to swap meat protein for a plant-based diet – using his own success as an example of what can be achieved.

At 26 Baboumian, who had already been in training for 14 years, was living near a forest and grew enchanted with the animals who lived there. At the time he was eating meat and dairy for protein as part of his fitness regime.

He said: “I put time and energy into helping these animals and I began to feel there was something wrong. I was eating animals and saving them at the same time.

“It made me reflect and I became vegetarian.”

After Baboumian won Germany’s Strongest Man in 2011, he decided to go vegan after receiving praise for his stance on animal welfare because of his enhanced media profile.

He began to feel nervous. Being a strongman who didn’t eat any animal products was largely unheard of at the time.

“I wasn’t convinced it would work,” he said. “I didn’t think it was possible. I was really shocked at how easy it was.

“It took discipline. I had to study every food package, but as an athlete, I was used to doing that.”

He ate calorie-dense nuts, seeds, and legumes to maintain weight and power and credits his vegan diet with improved performance.

So how do athletes in the strongman, powerlifting, and bodybuilding world feel about Baboumian’s diet?

“The community is divided into two groups,” he said. “We have guys who have been in the game for two decades and are very hard to convince. I sometimes struggle to understand them but then remember I was once in the same place.

“The other group is younger athletes. There is a ton of impressive vegan athletes, powerlifters and bodybuilders and I’m convinced that will continue to grow.”

Baboumian is the brand ambassador for Greenforce, a plant-based meat alternative that has just launched in the UK.

“It’s easy for someone to feel tiny and think their decision to ditch meat won’t change anything,” he said. “I think psychology is holding people back.

“I want people to understand that their decisions are more important than they think, that by trying to better yourself you can inspire others.”

He added: “It’s getting easier for the majority to become vegan with meat-free alternatives.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in