Meet Mr. Universe, Vegan Barny du Plessis

By on August 23, 2015



Barny Du Plessis, reigning Mr. Universe, calls himself “a vegan warrior fighting for the animals and our planet.” He’s been a competitive bodybuilder since 1998, and holds a number of other championships and first-place wins in the last 15 years. After 55 competitions, Barny says he’s performing better than ever as a vegan.

A recent convert, Barny and his fiancée Josie Keck began learning more about their food choices last year.

“We’re both loving the lifestyle for so many reasons, and are overwhelmed and humbled by the love shown towards us by the vegan fraternity,” Barny told me.

We were eager to speak to Barny about his new vegan ethic, his training, and of course…where he gets his protein.


What was behind this decision to go vegan?

I was born and raised as a vegetarian until the age of 18. My parents were new-age hippies, and so were all of their friends too. The whole vegan, vegetarian thing was completely normal in my life.

I reluctantly started to eat meat for extra protein, namely tuna, then chicken, then slowly progressed onto the hard stuff. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what I know now about nutrition, nor were there many alternatives available that I could realistically eat in the amounts required, to adequately sustain the level of protein needed to build muscle that I was in hot pursuit of.

Anyway, 23 or so years later, and a wealth of knowledge gained, the notion of becoming a vegan and remaining at peak muscle strength and mass presented itself as a very realistic and viable option.

Several films watched inspired the seed of personal change. Samsara was one, the other very important film recently released is GMO OMG. This struck a very important and powerful chord and started my inner transformation to take ownership and positive action on what I was now understanding to be of vital importance. The whole GMO thing really angered both Josie and I, so we thought, rather than support companies that are screwing this planet up, namely Monsanto, we would not give them another single penny of our money. Because Monsanto is totally corrupt and linked with almost every multinational food company in the world, we made the moral decision to boycott every company that is linked with Monsanto. We decided to go 100 percent GMO free and organic to support the industry that we believe in ethically, environmentally and ecologically.

So with environmental issues at heart, and understanding the fact that we loved animals but were eating them, we became very aware that this wasn’t right at all and in fact we were hypocrites. Knowing we were adding to suffering, misery, and mass murder was upsetting for us. We were becoming brutally aware now of our own actions and the ramifications of our choices. We were especially uncomfortable, as being bodybuilders, our consumption of meat and other animal products is far greater than that of normal people. We couldn’t possibly justify this way of living anymore, now we were aware. It was very depressing to say the least.

So you thought you were doing the right thing environmentally and politically, but then you recognized the animal issue as well. Can you talk about that ethical side?

Why should poor innocent creatures suffer and die in vast quantities for our personal gain, vanity, and lifestyle choices? We all have the power to choose and support the industry we believe in. People can take ownership and responsibility of their life choices, understand the consequences of their choices, and how their choice affects the world. By making ethical choices we can all very quickly take control and ownership of our actions and steer our future away from self-destruction and an embarrassing and pathetic end, steer our future back into a balance, regain our dignity, and hopefully rescue ourselves from extinction.

We made the conscious decision to go full vegan, GMO free, and organic five months ago now, and I have to say we love every minute of it, everything about it and what is. Even better, we feel truly fantastic. It’s the best thing we have ever done – God’s honest truth! No guilt whatsoever, no more murder and suffering. In fact, the more we can consume as vegan, GMO free, and organic, the better it is for us, the environment, the better for ethical industries and people who are doing the right thing. We’re supporting those industries we believe in, and destroying the industry that is destructive and the cause of misery, murder, greed, and the destruction of our beautiful planet.

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What does veganism mean to you? How has being vegan changed who you are as a person?

I feel genuinely happier, spiritually more connected, clean in myself, and now I feel I’m living rightly. My focus is definitely more vivid and more vibrant. I also feel so much healthier in myself, more transparent and filled with light – unpolluted, if you like. Making this very important and conscious choice has had a profound effect on myself and my fiancée. For the first time in our lives, we’re living without guilt of being a human being and adding to an unsustainable future with another mouth to feed, consuming, polluting, doing more damage to the environment and requiring more animals to feed our fat guts, ruining everything in our wake, causing more burden and demand on our mother earth. Now, though, we’re living almost completely a positive lifestyle. The more we purchase and consume, the better for us it is, and the better for the environment.

I am a better person since becoming a vegan. It’s the best thing we have ever done and ever could do. It’s the only thing in this life on this planet that makes complete sense. We will never go back: we’re vegans for life. And what’s so humbling and amazing is that all vegans globally are of the same ethical, spiritual, environmental, health-conscious mindset. It’s the real deal and the whole package. It’s really cool!

How have your colleagues responded to your decision to go vegan? Has there been pushback? Doubters? How do you address doubters?

I have had nothing but respect from our families and no resistance whatsoever. Everyone else who happens to hear that we’re both now staunch vegans on a GMO-free, organic, gluten-free diet are really interested, and somewhat fascinated. They know we are extremely knowledgeable about what we do because of our reputations as top-tier muscle athletes, as well as top prep coaches, where nutrition, diets and training plans is our business, and we’ve had massive success. We don’t do things by halves, or random hope. Everything we do is learned facts and totally understood. Any naysayers who would dare question us, and cast doubt on our knowledge, either don’t know of us or are incredibly stupid to try and challenge our knowledge.

Anyone who is uncertain about being a vegan should learn the reasons why they choose to be one. Once fully understood, they should stand up for what they believe in, and not get swayed by idiots and ignorance. They shouldn’t have to explain themselves or justify their actions to anyone. When something is either black or white, it doesn’t need explaining.


How do you get your protein? But on a serious note, can you share how you get adequate calories to maintain muscle to compete competitively on a vegan diet? What does your diet look like while you’re training?

For off season, I eat about 6500 calories per day, 350 protein, 700-800 carbs, 80-100 fats. Pre-competition, like at present, it’s 5000 calories, 320 protein, 600 carbs, 80 fats.

Josie does all of my food prep, and her cooking is absolutely amazing. I am truly blessed and extremely lucky to have her in my life. She buys, cooks, weighs and preps all of my food every day, and it tastes better than anything you could buy from a restaurant or a shop. All I gotta do is put it in my mouth, munch and grow! Her treats are wonderful too. She makes amazing gluten-free, wheat-free, GMO-free, organic, vegan cakes, sweets, etc. for cheat days. Her healthy stuff is just as tasty. I haven’t got any preferences these days. It’s all good. I’m a very lucky chap.

My staples are, rice, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables from our local organic and GMO free green grocer, plus vegan protein shakes. Another essential is creatine. I supplement daily with 20g now that I’m vegan. I also take multivitamins and minerals, antioxidants, herbs, spirulina, chlorella, and branched-chained amino acids.

If people are curious, watch our new YouTube channel, Powers of the Universe TV, we have and will be putting up loads of meal videos, recipes, etc. along with hardcore training, tips, and general life stuff. If you watch that, you will see what awesome food we eat.

What has been the biggest difference in training as vegan? Recovery? Strength?

I am the best I’ve ever been. I feel fantastic, no aches, pains or niggles. No delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs) after heavy sessions. All my workouts are on fire; endurance and energy are awesome, strength and power are as good as I want them to be. I feel really healthy, fit, and buzzing with energy. I feel lighter, and not bloated, but I’m still as heavy as I was when eating meat and animal products. Being leaner on more calories – that’s always a good thing!

I used to feel tired all the time. Now, I’m really awake. I used to wake up every morning feeling like shit. Now, I feel awesome. It’s truly amazing. I’m so impressed with the physical, mental, and emotional changes.

Getting ready for the [Professional Mr. Universe competition] on 5000 calories plus, with no particular specific effort, is a dream come true. When I smash the competitions, big, full, ripped, and healthy – without even any particular effort, on mega calories – people will have to listen and take the vegan thing very seriously. That’s my next goal, to win the Pro Universe as a vegan. That will be something else! A win for the animals, the earth, and all you awesome, amazing vegans around the world whom I have so much love and respect for.

Do you have any advice for someone considering going vegan, or who is newly vegan, and interested in bodybuilding?

Train smarter, not harder. Allow plenty of rest time after breaking down tissue Don’t overdo training; do enough to stimulate a response, and then leave it alone until the next workout.

Eat massive amounts. To what a normal bodybuilding diet would be in calories, add another 1000 just to maintain, and another 1000 to gain/grow. It’s a lot to do, but basically you simply have to eat huge to grow, more than a normal bodybuilding person would. Eat like a gorilla, a horse, a rhino. You won’t get fat if its good, whole foods. And make sure you get your fulfillment of protein from as many different foods as possible.


What are your future plans? Continue professional bodybuilding?

I hope I can have a positive effect upon this earth. I want to be a part of a significant change, and help, even if it’s just a little, and hopefully justify my existence a bit.

We’re also setting up our new Powers of the Universe shop and business next year for energy healing materials, crystals, and related things. I’ll be doing tattoos – protection tattoos, sacred geometry tattoos, energy tattoos, fine portrait tattooing, and original artwork. We have our own plot of land by the coast in Spain, and grow our own stuff, so next year we plan to move there. I’ll still do competition bodybuilding and keep spreading the word on a global scale about the virtues of veganism. It’s the only way to really live.

What kinds of activism or campaigns are you focused on?

We’re not directly involved with any particular organization, but we actively support what we can when given the opportunity. We’ve made it our lives’ duty and purpose to raise awareness as to the virtues of veganism, saving animals, fighting GMO companies, we’re devoted to raising awareness of these very important issues and passionate about educating as many people as we possibly can. Our YouTube channel is a very useful vehicle for our crusade too.

Being elite bodybuilders in the public eye, demonstrating veganism in real time and entering bodybuilding competitions, winning them as vegans, is a massive incentive for others to follow – seeing is believing, after all. Being at the very forefront of this is something we are taking very seriously. We are responsible for a lot of potential new recruits, so to speak. Many people from all over the world are learning about a pro bodybuilder going vegan. My duty is to show them all the way.






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