Body builder Lee Ah Yen Faatoia has lost 36 kg (79lbs) since the beginning of the year on a plant-based diet – and has packed on the muscle.
The 34-year-old New Zealander has revealed that seeing five of his relatives diet from diet-related diseases – all under the age of 60 – made him and his family ditch animal-based foods.
Faatoia, who is of Chinese and Samoan descent, is urging the Polynesian community to switch to a plant-based diet.
A vegan since 2015, the body builder wants to be an example of good health to the Polynesian community.
He told news outlet New Zealand Herald: “I grew tired of seeing my relatives die from heart attacks, diabetes and cancer.
“Most Polynesians are always concerned that they’ll lose strength and size if they become vegan. This is my way to contribute to my community, by explaining and showing them you can be big without meat.”
Faatoia’s 6ft2 frame dropped from 127kg (279lbs) to 91kg (200lbs), while gaining muscle.
The athlete eats up to 4,000 calories a day, including a 1,000 calorie smoothie of four bananas, mango, raspberries, passionfruit, and water every morning.
“I get protein from broccoli, cauliflower, chickpeas, a lot of beans and lentils, quinoa. There’s actually quite a lot in them,” he says.
“I really love eating my vegetables, lucky for me I love my broccoli.”
He added: “It’s great, I feel like I’m younger. Not mentally, just my body.”
The body builder also shared that he lives by the quote: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice,” saying it’s the underlying cause of his switch to veganism.
“That’s the whole point of veganism, it’s important to be kind and nice to everyone.”