Chat with a vegan: Ravi Bohgan, entrepreneur, body builder, and supercar enthusiast
As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, PlantUniversity’s Brighde Reed sat down and spoke with Ravi Bohgan. Ravi is an entrepreneur, app developer, body builder, and supercar enthusiast who is passionate about plant-based eating. We hope you find his experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.
You can follow Ravi on Instagram at @vegainsonline.
If you’re interested in learning more after reading this blog post, you can find great resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get free plant-based recipes and be notified when the next interview is posted.
Where are you from and what are you passionate about?
I’m a dad to three children, and two lovely dogs as well. I’m married and living in Chilliwack, BC. We are entrepreneurs. We run a marketing firm, an online marketing firm – email and Facebook – a lot of stuff with Google, Facebook, that kind of thing. We also are launching a brand new app in the automotive industry in September targeted at the automotive enthusiast. We’ve also developed a completely different type of GPS than the world is currently using.
I’ve always grown up very into sports. I don’t get to play as much, but I still keep very active in the gym. The last competition I did for men’s physique was back in 2019. COVID ruined a lot of the shows but I still do photo shoots prepping for just men’s physique promotion.
Our other personal hobby is the automotive world, which is where we developed the app for I’ve developed my supercar out of a Mercedes AMG. The whole concept of it was veganism.
I have owned that car for four years. I always didn’t like that I couldn’t find a high-performance vehicle without leather in it. So I decided to take the car because I still wanted a four-door. After all, I take my kids with me to every car show and car event that I go to. We ripped out all the leather from inside the car and we replaced it all with Alcantara which was expensive. We branded it Vegains, which is my bodybuilding name Vegains online. So I branded everything Vegains inside and we turned it into a full show car.
It sparks a lot of conversation at the different car shows. And, when I get into it and talk about how the interior is redone. It’s not tuned on gasoline anymore, it’s tuned on ethanol, which is a plant so it’s fully vegan. It gets a lot of conversation started and we win many trophies at different shows.
How did you get into bodybuilding and how did that turn you vegan?
I moved back to Canada from England when I was 18. I was very thin, I only weighed about 120 pounds being just under six feet, which is common for the British lifestyle. All my cousins were all farm boy builds, very wide, a lot bigger than me. I wanted to gain some size, fit in, and defend myself against my cousins who would push me around.
I started working out, not knowing what I was doing though it was more ego-lifting. I was young and immature and I just enjoyed being at the gym.
I trained throughout my twenties. I didn’t learn how to work out properly until I was 27. I met a bodybuilding coach who taught me how to lift properly, taught me a lot about nutrition, but more the traditional fitness way of eating, keto lifestyle, high protein, low carb days, that kind of thing.
And while I saw results, when I turned 29 going on 30, I got sick. It came from food poisoning from either chicken or cheese, we never could identify it. But my bodybuilding took a turn for the worse.
Everything went downhill, food poisoning lasted about six weeks. It wouldn’t go away. I had doctor appointments, MDs, and naturopaths, but nobody could identify it besides the fact that I had lost about 20 pounds in weight, nothing was healing. I couldn’t digest food anymore. I went on a journey after the MD agreed with my naturopath saying it appears I was allergic to animal proteins. At that point, I had no idea what vegetarian or vegan even was.
They said, I needed to change my lifestyle and go plant-based to heal my gastrointestinal system, which I did with the help of my mom cooking lots of traditional east Indian food – lentils, quinoa, garlic, ginger, and a lot of really healthy things.
I ate no junk food, no meat, and no animal products at all. When I got healthy again, a different coach asked me to start eating chicken again and eggs and train to compete the next year to gain everything back. I had a moment where I went to cook a chicken breast and I cooked it and sat down to eat it and I couldn’t eat it.
Not because at that point I had made any sort of ethical connection. It just looked disgusting. I went back to my lentils and I went back to my chickpeas and went back to eating that way which he wasn’t happy with because he was more the traditional bodybuilder. He said, okay, how about fish? I decided to eat fish. After two months of eating specific tuna, salmon, and cod, I got mercury poisoning. I went through a nine-month detox after that was officially diagnosed and got my reflexes back.
Then I started to make the ethical connection shortly after that, just comparing things with my dog Lola.
How did going vegan improve your life?
I just felt better-being plant-based and started to question everything about the fitness industry based on, what my MD and my naturopath said I probably got sick due to the aggressive keto dieting. They educated me on a lot of topics the fitness industry will never educate you on.
I was shocked to hear it all went down my own rabbit hole of research, which lined up everything that I was taught by the MD and the naturopath.
How do you get your protein?
I use Ergogenics protein powder. They have a hemp protein powder so I use that in my smoothies. I use hemp seeds in my smoothies as well, along with peanut butter. So it’s very easy to get a smoothie up to 40, 50 grams of protein to what my current coach still wants me to hit per meal.
My other sources are vegan meats, Yves Ground Veggie, Beyond Meat, and Impossible Burgers, I’ll have one, I go out to eat at restaurants. I still use it in my meal plans at home as well, more of the healthier sources would be tempeh, tofu, lentils, and chickpeas.
You kind of get protein from everything. Like when I write out all my meal plans with macros and the calories involved in them, so I can understand and envision what I’m intaking. So like when I’m making my meal plans and I add in even the rice that I’m having or the bread with the gluten protein along with the soy milk when I’m having smoothies or even a bowl of cereal, it all adds up very quickly. So hitting protein amounts is very easy. When somebody asks me in the gym, where do I get my protein?
I relay that question in a different way to say, do we even know how much you’re supposed to in terms of how much protein per day, based on your body weight and your activities and your goals in the gym?
What’s a typical day of eating for you at the moment?
So for breakfast in a general off-season meal, I do a large hash brown veggie meal. The protein source will be like the Yves Ground Veggie and tofu mixed. Sometimes, tempeh diced in just to keep a diversity: hash browns, then, veggies I’ll have like zucchini, spices, onions, garlic, and any veggies I have on hand. I do stick with the majority of low-fiber veggies. I found going plant-based originally, I didn’t need that much fiber in my diet, so I don’t eat broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus every single day just once or twice a week. I stick to low-fiber veggie foods throughout the day which helped my gut stay consistent and just continue healing.
For lunch, I’ll make a smoothie. I’ll have a large smoothie, chia, hemp, soy milk, my protein, peanut butter, and a greens powder also from Ergogenics and then a pre-workout meal, I’ll usually make a small sandwich and then I’ll have simple sugars, like a bowl of cereal with some light granola in it so it’s higher, simple sugars and lower in fat. Doesn’t need to be high in protein, it’s just so my body has that energy at the gym to fill up the glycogen in the muscles and have a great workout. Post workout I’ll usually do another smoothie with cream of rice.
Again, get some simple sugars to heal the body, heal the muscles, and get, the energy it needs to start recovering.
For dinner, we’ll usually do some type of rice bowl with tofu, whatever protein source we’re eating as a family, I’ll do something similar to that. And then before bed, I’d usually make a peanut butter sandwich to make sure I’ve hit my macros for the day.
Because I generally eat a lower fat diet. So I started adding avocado toast, peanut butter, chia, and hemp, to my meals, especially in the off-season. Use more of the fat content to help gain some weight and make sure I have enough calories to keep scaling and then when I look to cut in the summer, it’s very easy for me.
What’s your favourite meal?
My favourite vegan meal would probably be my wife’s Shepherd’s Pie with the gravy, or she makes a heck of a Mushroom Wellington, it’s an occasion meal. It takes a lot of effort to make, but it’s just absolutely incredible.
What’s your favourite restaurant in Vancouver?
I’d probably say Chi Vegan. Yeah, we became good friends with Chi, the actual head chef. She’s amazing. The food there is fantastic as well.
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