Despite what you may think, people who eat vegan diets actually can bulk up and get a totally ripped and sculpted body. Mustafa Shakir, who portrays villain John “Bushmaster” Byrne in Netflix’s hit series “Luke Cage,” attributes his fantastically chiseled physique to his die-hard vegan diet.
“I’m very strict,” the Harlem-born actor told Men’s Health about his completely animal-product-free diet. In addition to eating mostly whole fruits and vegetables, raw foods, beans and nuts, he has also cut alcohol and caffeine out entirely. However, he does admit that he follows his diet “about 85 percent” of the time — “because sometimes I just got to eat the french fries.” We totally get it, Mustafa.
To get in shape for his role as what he describes as the “squirrelly” Marvel character, Shakir dropped 15 pounds with intense twice-a-day workouts that didn’t only take place in the gym. He leaned out with hot yoga and signed up for formal capoeira training — an Afro-Brazilian martial arts practice that incorporates dance and acrobatics — in order to master his character’s martial arts skills.
To train for the fighting scenes, he opted against taking hits at a live human, instead enlisting the help of a BOB (body opponent bag), which is basically a boxing bag that looks like a mannequin. “I got a lot of workouts in on that,” he said. “That pretty much prepared me to go to the fight choreography, so I could follow along and do the majority of my own stunts.”
In case you are curious about how a plant-based diet can fuel an intense workout regimen such as Mustafa’s, it’s totally doable — however, it may take quite a bit of diligence. It’s important that vegan diets maintain a healthy balance of proteins and carbohydrates and that a sufficient amount of calories are consumed to fuel training. Vegans also might need to take supplements — such as vitamin B-12 — as it most commonly occurs in animal products.
Shakir isn’t the only male actor who makes veganism look good. “The Office” star Craig Robinson (aka Darryl) recently revealed that ditching animal products and booze helped him lose 50 pounds.
If you are considering a vegan diet, it’s always best to speak with a health care professional or dietician in order to get advice about nutrition planning. But Mustafa Shakir is living, breathing (and sweating) proof that veganism and hardcore training can go hand in hand!