Dr. Harriet Davis is a very impressive woman by anyone’s standards.

Brains and beauty. I really appreciate how Harriet didn’t start hitting the weights until after she was 40 years-old (more like 40 years-young) if you can believe that. What an inspiration to those who thinks it’s too late to start.

dr-harriet-davis-ifbb-proName: Dr. Harriet Davis
City/State/Country: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Age: 43
Height: 5’2″
Type of Competing: IFBB Bikini Professional
Weight/Competition Weight: 115lb./110lb.
Facebook: facebook.com/harriet.n.davis

You’ll also notice that there’s only a 5lb difference in Harriet’s competition and off-season weights. This consistent trait in vegan bodybuilders is a sustainable health advantage that plant-eaters have over meat-eaters in fitness arena.

Once I transitioned to a 100% plant-based diet, the first thing I noticed was that my daily energy levels increase as well as my mental sharpness and focus. Most vegans and vegetarian athletes will tell you that their bodies feel good (physically and emotionally) almost all of the time.
—Dr. Harriet Davis

When and why did you became a vegan bodybuilder?

I have always had an aversion to consuming meat. When I entered college, I chose to cut all meat from my diet and I became vegetarian (1989). Over the years, I started to develop several “intolerances” to different foods including dairy/eggs and therefore, in 2007, I decided to become a gluten-free, vegan foodist and never looked back!

Shortly after I turned forty, I started to notice changes in my physique that were not typical of the past. I began to notice less muscle definition in my legs (and more adipose tissue). So, over the next year (2011-2012) I increased my weekly running mileage (25-30miles/week) and as a result, I developed a stress fracture in my foot. But the undesirable changes in my physiques did not respond as I had expected.

Feeling frustrated with my physical appearance, in December 2012, I decided to hire a vegan personal trainer. This was beneficial because the trainer was able to help me identify several nutritional issues that were contributing to me gaining fat rather than building muscle. After 3 months of nutritional revisions, and personal training, my body had started to respond the way that I desired. Then, being the goal oriented person that I am, I decided to start competing.

What are the advantages of being a vegan as an athlete?

I would have to say is an abundance of energy! Once I transitioned to a 100% plant-based diet, the first thing I noticed was that my daily energy levels increase as well as my mental sharpness and focus. Most vegans and vegetarian athletes will tell you that their bodies feel good (physically and emotionally) almost all of the time.

dr-harriet-davis-vegetarian-bodybuilderDescribe your bikini competition diet while preparing

Vegetarian bikini competition meal plan:

Quinoa, fruit (apples, pears, grapefruit, lemons), sweet potato, greens (kale, spinach), black beans (black bean spaghetti), mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, protein shake(s), nuts (almonds), legumes (garbanzo beans/chickpeas), and LOTS of water (1.5-2 gallons/day)!

Favorite food in your prep diet

Black Bean Spaghetti

Describe your diet off season

My off season diet is very similar to my competition prep diet but, I am more liberal with fruits, and monounsaturated fats (avocado, nuts, etc.).

Favorite breakfast dish?

Quinoa and Kale

Favorite post-workout meal?

Black Bean Spaghetti, grilled asparagus, with sautéed onions and mushrooms.

Supplements that you personally use?

Garden of Life Raw Fit protein powder; KIND Organics: Women’s multivitamin, Vitamin B12; Humapro BCAAs.

Describe your training for a competition (favorite exercises, weekly training schedule, etc)

  • Monday: cardio (am/pm). Gym: legs (quads, inner/outer thighs), abs
  • Tuesday: cardio (am/pm). Gym: shoulders, arms (biceps, triceps), abs
  • Wednesday: cardio (am/pm). Gym: (hump day): glutes, hamstrings.
  • Thursday: cardio (am/pm). Gym: total body workout.
  • Friday: cardio (am/pm). Gym: legs, abs, back
  • Saturday: REST DAY!
  • Sunday: cardio (am/pm). Track workout (sprints, high knees, etc)

Describe your training off season (favorite exercises, weekly training schedule, etc)

My training off season is essentially the same except I only have one cardio session a day (and for a shorter time). Some of my favorite exercises are:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Glute bridges
  • Deadlifts

What special tricks of the trade can you tell us?

Posing and presentation are very important when preparing for a show. Like with anything else, practice makes perfect. The more time you spend practicing, the better you will look on stage. When you practice often, not only does it make you more confident, but it will also make you look better on stage. You want to make sure you keep your head up, abs tight, and stand erect.

When practicing your posing, hold each pose for 60 seconds—this will help build your stamina for when on stage. You also want to make sure you work on your transitions so you are fluid with your movements and everything moves smoothly from each pose.

Another huge tip for posing is to smile! By smiling you look comfortable on stage and look like you’re having fun. There is nothing worse than going to a bodybuilding show and watching a competitor go out on stage and look like he/she is not having fun.

What plans do you have for your future in fitness?

One of my main goals is to build more muscle (Glutes) and continue to improve my physique for the 2015 season. Since I have recently earned my IFBB a pro card (July 2014), I am actively competing on the professional circuit with a goal of becoming qualified for The Bikini Olympia by 2016!

How does the future of vegetarian bodybuilding look from your vantage point?

As time progresses, I anticipate that there will be more and more vegetarian and vegan bodybuilders. Plant-based products are now mainstream. Vegetarian foods are readily available. There are also many companies that have developed excellent products (supplements, protein powders, etc) for vegan and vegetarian competitors. With that being said, I expect the future of vegetarian bodybuilding to grow exponentially over the next few years.