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Torre Washington is the (rather perfect) embodiment of a contradiction. The man lives, and thrives, in a world where his lifestyle choices don't gel with the norms.
In case you didn't know, Washington is a successful pro bodybuilder, model, author, and social media star. Oh yeah, he's also vegan. Maybe I should have opened with that.
Building an award-winning physique on a plant-based diet is impressive- even more so when you consider that he doesn't participate in typical bodybuilding obsessions like calorie/protein tracking and supplementing.
Like I said: a walking contradiction.
Torre Washington grew up vegetarian, thanks to his mother, who was a devout Seventh Day Adventist.
This gave the young man from Alabama the ideal foundation for his eventual move to a vegan diet when he was in his early twenties.
The switch was inspired by his Ital Rastafarian beliefs - something he doesn't take lightly.
"I couldn't say I'm Rasta while not really living the true lifestyle," he told The Beet . "So, I decided to make sure that I only ate plants and fruits back in 1998."
He loved comic books as a kid - citing Wolverine as one of his biggest inspirations to start training.
The 46-year old was also part of a generation exposed to Arnold Schwarzenegger's transformation from bodybuilder to global movie superstar.
This obsession could easily have led him down a different path - one involving mostly couches, bongs, and cold pizza. But as the man has illustrated before, he's not one for sticking to expectations.
He started training at a young age, picking up some impressive muscle, despite his plant-based diet. He never considered bodybuilding as a career until 2008, when he earned a surprise third place in the SNBF Open Bodybuilding contest.
His performance triggered a new obsession - pro bodybuilding and taking home some trophies.
Not content with the bronze, our hero hit the gym hard while remaining true to his vegan diet. All the while, he was advised on nutrition - mostly that he needed to eat meat or food derived from animals for protein. He ignored them all.
Six months later, he appeared in his second competition. This time, winning not only his class but the overall - earning himself a pro card along the way.
His victory there was followed by several more over the next number of years, all while he resisted the temptation to eat the way other bodybuilders do.
His dedication to building that perfect physique was only matched by his commitment to being a vegan.
As his collection of titles grew, so did his profile among the vegan community. Here was a man excelling in a field where training is accompanied by an established model of nutrition - a model he roundly rejected. He remains humble despite his celebrity status.
"Growth is only feasible when the mind is humble and willing to search of ways to learn,"
he says on his website.
According to the man himself, it's easier than you think. He describes his move to a plant-based diet like he was flicking a light switch. When asked how he'd advise other bodybuilders interested in going vegan, he said:
“A lot of times, people question it and feel they have to do their research. Don't do research. Just dive in. Start eliminating things slowly."
One of the main reasons he feels that nutrition as a vegan bodybuilder is relatively uncomplicated is because he follows a very intuitive approach to eating. While he admits that consuming the right amount of protein and calories is still very important, he doesn't believe in getting obsessive about it.
Torre never counts anything. He knows that he needs to eat frequently and listens to what his body tells him.
What he chooses to eat is mostly determined by his mood. He believes this to be one of the benefits of an entirely plant-based diet. There's no need to measure what you eat.
So, what does a vegan bodybuilder eat? For Torre, it's all about maximizing his calorie intake. He follows almost no eating pattern whatsoever, saying that his options are so incredibly wide as a vegan.
Tofu is one of his favorite sources of protein, and will often start the day eating a bowl of it with banana. Oatmeal, peanut butter, and vegan cereal also feature prominently in his breakfast menu.
When training for a competition, he admits to thinking a little more about what he eats in the morning.
Although, this entails simply adding some greens and Japanese sweet potato - hardly the level of nutritional analysis you'd expect from a pro bodybuilder.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus are his favorite greens, but he admits to eating pretty much any green he can lay his hands on.
To spice things up, Torre loves adding cayenne pepper. He's a big believer in spicy food, saying that it boosts his immune system and metabolism. In fact, in the same interview with The Beet, he calls cayenne pepper the one ingredient he can't live without.
If you are having trouble getting all the necessary nutrients from your plant-based diet, our vegan bodybuilding meal plan might just do the trick.
Training while living a meat-free existence is, unsurprisingly, not much different to regular training. Putting on muscle is dependent on food, sure, but it's also about putting in the long hours at the gym.
Torre is a fan of the superset workout circuit, hitting all the areas he wants to focus on: quads, hamstrings, back, chest, biceps and triceps.
He typically does 12 reps on each muscle, resting when the full circuit is done and then repeating it.
While he admits to not being huge on cardio, he does do sprints twice a week - something he retained from his time as a runner in school.
His workouts are as varied as his eating. He likes to keep things flexible, going with his intuition and focusing on the muscle group he feels needs work. He works out six days per week and will often do so with a partner who helps push him harder.
Reading the man's words on his plant-based diet, I can't help but feel energized. There's an authentic passion for cruelty-free eating that shines through in every sentence.
One of the main takeaways from this article should be how uncomplicated life as a vegan bodybuilder can be. When you're free from animal products, a new doorway opens, showing you the vast amount of nutritional options you can enjoy with a clear conscience.
I loved reading and writing about this remarkable, inspiring man.