Health & Habits
Q&A With IFBB PRO Nimai Delgado
Posted April 17, 2021
Nimai Delgado is a natural, vegan IFBB professional bodybuilder and creator of veganfitness.com and co-founder of Vedge Nutrition.
He was raised with a vegetarian diet since birth and has never consumed any meat in his lifetime. In his early twenties Nimai decided to transition to a fully plant based diet after he recognized the unethical exploitation of animals for human convenience.
Nimai uses his social media and professional platforms to enlighten hundreds of thousands about the benefits of plant-based lifestyles. He has quickly risen to the top of the ranks of the bodybuilding world while disproving common misconceptions about veganism, becoming the first vegan to be on the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine and also featured in James Cameron’s film “The Game Changers”.
What started as a personal mission has transformed into an endless effort of educating the masses about the benefits of a plant based diet and showing them that it is not only about the size and strength of your muscles, but the size of your heart and how you use your strength.
In this Q&A we go over everything supplements & Vedge Nutrition.
NIMAI Q&A ON BRAND & PRODUCTS
What made you wake up and decide to start Vedge Nutrition?
I would say that the idea for creating Vedge developed after I went fully plant based in early 2015. I was a vegetarian athlete before going vegan and I heavily relied on whey protein because I thought that whey/casein protein from milk was the best available protein source. After seeing a very heart wrenching and disturbing video that showed what really goes on behind closed doors in dairy farms, I immediately made the decision to never consume any dairy products again or fund any industry that exploited or commodified animals. I was left feeling conflicted because as ‘selfless’ as my decision was to help reduce suffering of these animals, I selfishly still wanted to continue making gains and feeling good about my progress in the gym. The answer was simple: I would just switch over to a plant based protein powder to complement my new, fully plant based diet. I remember gagging after trying out the first plant based protein I bought off of amazon. It was a 4 pound, unflavored pea protein that had a very attractive price point, and I quickly realized why it was so cheap. I figured that it must have tasted so badly because it was unflavored, so I decided to try the most popular plant based protein brand at that time (won't name any names) and I was also disappointed with the flavor, texture, and mixability. After that, I just kind of accepted that Plant-Based proteins just didn’t taste that good and had gritty textures.
I spent the next few years trying out different brands as I continued on my bodybuilding journey. I continued sharing my journey on my social media and my following kept growing and eventually, I became the world's first vegan IFBB pro. After that, I was approached by many of the top supplement brands with offers to represent their company. I was excited that I was being recognized by these brands, but I refused to represent any company that wasn’t fully plant based. I wasn't going to use my platform to send traffic to a supplement company that sold 99% non-vegan products and only had 1 vegan protein powder (that also tasted like sh*t). So I held out until I finally signed with an up and coming, fully vegan brand. I stayed with them for a few years before realizing that I had all of these ideas for products and how to improve them. My social media was being flooded everyday with questions about how to go vegan, what key nutrients needed to be considered when going vegan, how much protein to consume, etc. So I had a very good idea of what people were looking for and what their pain points were.
By this time, I also had gotten certified in plant based nutrition by ECornell University and coached hundreds of people online on how to optimize their plant based diets while enhancing their performance, recovery, and overall health. I saw a huge gap in the supplement industry. The most popular brands were not vegan, and they only offered vegan products that “checked the boxes”. There was clearly no consideration or concern for people who were actually vegan. They clearly didn’t understand the community either (based off the many conversations and offers that I received from these brands). I thought to myself, “ If I only had the right resources, I could create something much better than anything else on the market. (including the company I was sponsored by at the time)”. Not only that, but I could create a brand that was more than just a company trying to make profits. I could create a company that was fully aligned with my core values and dedicated to doing things the right way, with intention, and with the consideration of our customers, animals, and the planet in mind. I could ensure that everything from the team, the ingredients, the branding, the packaging, the flavor, the texture, and the formulation of products were all in alignment with my vision of making the world a more compassionate, healthier, & sustainable place. I couldn’t shake the thought of creating a brand after that. I felt like it was my duty to create Vedge because once you know better, you should do better. The rest is history.
What bothers you the most about the supplement industry?
The landscape of the supplement industry has changed a lot in the past 6 years since I first went vegan. Back then, there were not many vegan sports performance products available. The ones that were available were not necessarily the types of products I was looking for, being a professional vegan bodybuilder. I needed aids to help my performance, but most of the vegan brands were more focused on lifestyle and health. That’s great and all, but it just wasn’t what I needed. Just because I was vegan didn’t mean that I didn’t want juicy pumps at the gym, a pre-workout that kicked and made me tingle, a delicious protein powder to drink after my intense workouts, etc. That forced me to scour the market and find non-vegan brands that offered vegan products that just “checked the boxes”. I could get a “decent” vegan protein from brand A, a crappy pre workout from Brand B, and buy the individual vitamins from brands C, D, and E. They clearly didn’t care about creating quality vegan products. They just wanted to fill a gap and have something available for people to buy. Most of the time they could have easily created a great, fully vegan product, but they decided to add in 1 (useless) non-vegan ingredient. Not only that, the quality of the ingredients and taste were just not up to par. These companies think that just because vegans eat only plants, we want products that taste like plants. I liked the taste of reeses cups, birthday cakes, sour patch gummies, popsicles, and all of those things before I went vegan. I would like some variety like that in the sports supplements that I used as well, just like the non-vegan counterparts. Instead I (speaking on behalf of all vegans) got products that tasted like wheatgrass.
Another thing that bugs me about the supplement industry is that they promote their products as the panacea for health and performance. That's just bullsh*t. Supplements are supposed to SUPPLEMENT your daily nutrition and lifestyle. No supplement is ever going to make up for unhealthy lifestyle and dietary choices. Every few months a brand will come out with a “revolutionary” new product that is supposed to “incinerate fat while you sleep” or “double your gains in weeks”. It’s all questionable, proprietary blends that don’t have any substantial evidence to support their claims paired with clever, misleading advertising to uneducated, naïve customers that think this brand has their best interest in mind. Vedge is dedicated to being transparent with our products and only using ingredients that are natural and have substantial, scientifically proven data to justify them being included in the formula. We do our best to create realistic expectations from our products and try to educate our audience on the importance of creating different HABITS that promote health, longevity, and performance.
What excites you the most about the supplement industry?
Plain and simple, the amount of room for improvements within the space. Especially in the plant based space. There is so much new evidence and studies coming out about the benefits of the plant based diet for overall health, longevity, AND sports performance. Many professional athletes are now seeing the advantage of eating plants and using plant based supplements. It is the future of the industry in my opinion and I’m glad to be an early adopter and leading the charge.
*Refer to the first answer for reasons why I think other plant based proteins are inferior*
I believe that the Vedge Plant Protein is the best because it checks all of the boxes you would want from a plant protein. First, the most important part is that it delivers what it says: quality protein. The amino acid profile was specifically designed to breach the upper threshold of Leucine, one of the main precursor amino acids for maximizing muscle protein synthesis. Although you may be able to get enough leucine on a plant based diet to maximize MPS, it can be challenging and time consuming to research which foods contain high amounts of leucine and design a meal plan around that. If you’re a bodybuilder or a high performing athlete, your body demands even more, which is why we intentionally made our amino acid profile the way it is. We’ve done all of the back end work so that our customers can focus less on researching which foods are going to provide enough specific amino acids so they can spend more time focusing on training and recovery.
The second thing is we don’t include artificial flavors, fillers, “nitrogen spiking”, preservatives, or any other garbage that a lot of brands put into their products to reduce costs and maximize profits. Let’s face it. Quality ingredients cost more and we are going to have smaller profit margins. At the end of the day Vedge is a business that needs to turn a profit in order to stay in business, but profits are not our main driver. Our main goal is to create QUALITY products that have our customers health, performance, and best interest at heart AND creating an impact with our products. You can’t cut corners when it comes to those things. Quality over quantity is our motto, which is why we will always use organic (when possible) and use intentional ingredients. Thirdly, we do third party testing on all of our products to guarantee that they are free of any contaminants, heavy metals, mold, pesticides, glyphosate, or any other things that you DON’T want to consume.
Other companies won’t share their COA’s because they will be exposed and would have to answer why they don’t care about the unsafe levels of these contaminants in their products. In fact, we recently put our money where our mouth is, and submitted our COA’s to Dr. Christian Gonzalez, a naturopathic doctor who specializes in integrative oncology and hosts the popular podcast Heal Thyself. He compared over 80 of the most popular plant based proteins on the market for quality and COA’s. Vedge Nutrition was ranked at the very top of the list for quality and being one of the cleanest brands on the market, beating out over 80 other established brands. Now we can confidently say that we have the cleanest protein on the market. Lastly, the taste and texture of Vedge is superior to other brands on the market. I hate to say it, but unfortunately many customers only use one metric when determining whether or not a protein powder is “quality” and that metric is: FLAVOR. For many, it doesn’t matter how healthy something is. If it tastes like sh*t, they’re not going to use it. This is the main reason why most people despise plant based protein powders. They will immediately wince after drinking most brands and gag. We knew this going into formulating Vedge and had a difficult problem to solve. How do we use healthy, natural ingredients that don’t sacrifice quality, but STILL deliver a delicious flavor, texture, and overall organoleptic profile? Well, after lots of research and time spent in our laboratory, we were able to formulate just that. To be honest, our goal was not just to create the best “plant based” protein powder. We wanted to create the best PROTEIN POWDER. PERIOD.
Regardless of it being vegan or not. We did just that. Our protein competes with whey protein’s flavor but without any of the deleterious effects that come along with whey protein. Just wait until you see what’s coming next for our line of flavors. We’ve got some exciting things coming down the pipeline and plan to break the mold and create a new standard of quality, delicious protein powder (vegan and non-vegan).
Essential is the first product we created because we believe that overall health is the foundation from which performance is built upon. Data shows that the general population, not vegans, have suboptimal levels of D3, Omega 3’s, and B12. We even enhanced our formula to include K2 to maximize absorption of these vitamins. So its not a just vegan problem, its a systemic problem that is a result of poor nutrition and lifestyle choices. The problem is that it can be expensive and difficult to take these vitamins individually to ensure that you’re hitting the RDA. When I first went vegan, I did my research and bought all of these vitamins individually. It was inconvenient to have to re-up my supply and needing to figure out what the optimal daily intake was for each. The Essential is a once a day, clinically dosed, capsule that covers all of your bases for these key nutrients. I wish I had something like this when I first went vegan. In fact, everyone should consider taking the Essential because lacking in these nutrients can lead to a whole list of potential health issues ranging from low energy, fatigue, brain fog, and much more. You don’t want any of those symptoms, especially if you’re an athlete. You need to have energy, endurance, and be mentally sharp if you want to be at the top of your game.
Another benefit of the Essential is that its fully vegan (of course). Many people are uneducated when it comes to the sources of supplements. Vitamin D typically comes from sheeps wool. Many might think: “well, they’re just shaving the wool of a sheep. What’s the big deal?” Well, let me tell you, if you see how these animals are treated and what really happens in these farms, you would immediately question whether or not you want to continue supporting the cruelty and exploitation of these gentle creatures, especially when there are cruelty free, vegan alternatives like the one Vedge uses. We use a certified vegan ingredient that delivers all of the nutrients without any of the cruelty or derived from animal hair. Same thing goes for our Omega 3’s. Most Omega 3’s on the market are derived from Fish oil. Fish oil has been marketed to have many health benefits, but the latest research has shown that many supplements are contaminated with heavy metals, PCBs, and other harmful chemicals. Fish oil is also derived from Fish Farms which have been shown to use cruel, unsanitary, and unsustainable practices. Fish, believe it or not, get their Omega 3’s from Algae, so technically they are the middle man. Vedge uses Omega 3’s derived from Algae so you don’t have to worry about any of the deleterious effects from consuming fish oil. It is a healthier alternative Plus it is much more sustainable for the planet and the ocean. It’s a win win for everyone involved
The Vedge Pre-workout & Nitro Pump are something that the supplement industry has been needing for a long time. It’s a hard hitting, energy delivering, workout enhancing, blood pumping pre workout that doesn’t leave you feeling cracked out and doesn’t contain animal fur derived BCAAS. It delivers the cleanest available source of energy on the planet: the power contained in plants. Most pre-workouts are filled with artificial ingredients, colors, flavors, and proprietary formulas that provide short, unsustainable bouts of energy followed by a wirey, fatigue feeling. Not Vedge. Finally there is a fully vegan pre workout that can compare to these unhealthy alternatives. On top of all of that, it tastes amazing and doesn't taste like wheat grass or pure beats like other vegan pre workouts on the market.
How do you improve one of the most tried and tested supplements on the market? You add the power of plants to it. Creatine has been around for ages and the evidence shows how beneficial it can be for enhancing your cells ability to produce more ATP (energy). Creatine is actually stored in animal products, so omnivores consume several grams on a daily basis compared to vegans who don’t consume any. Studies show that vegans/vegetarians actually benefit MORE than omnivores (link study). But I’m not here to argue the effectiveness of creatine. It’s been proven many times. We decided to create a performance and endurance product that utilizes the power of creatine. We paired it with Peak 02, which is made up of 6 adaptogenic mushrooms. Mushrooms have powerful recovery and restorative effects on the body because they can adapt to what we need in the moment, hence why they’re called adaptogens. They help promote blood transport and deliver higher amounts of oxygen during stressful events (like long training sessions) so that you can push yourself for longer without breaking down or fatiguing. There isn’t another product like this on the market and I’m excited to be the first to offer a powerful aid that will help athletes break through plateaus and reach new levels of performance.
What is your personal goal for the vision of Vedge Nutrition?
My personal goal for Vedge is to be the gold standard of sports supplements. We strive to only provide quality products that are fully aligned with our core values of health. Not only that, I wish to educate consumers on what they should look for when purchasing supplements and having realistic expectations for what a supplement can provide them. We want to educate our audience on how to create healthy habits that will aid them in their fitness goals and provide vitality and longevity. Ultimately, we want to create a community, a movement of educated consumers who are dedicated to making a difference in their own health and the health of this planet we all share.
Love & Light
Written by Nimai Delgado
By Vedge Nutrition
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