Meat Eater to Vegan: How my Client Beat 435,000 Others & Won’s Transformation Challenge

Meat Eater to Vegan: How my Client Beat 435,000 Others & Won’s Transformation Challenge

Boy oh boy, do I have a story for you!

It all began one year ago. I was getting ready to speak at Veg Expo in Vancouver when Nina: a cute Asian chick rocking bright fuchsia lipstick and an LA Dodgers hat approached me. She introduced herself and we chatted for a bit before she revealed that she had actually flown all the way from LA just to hear my vegan fitness talk.

Needless to say, I was pretty floored (not to mention super flattered) to hear that a complete stranger was inspired enough by little, ol’ me to fork out serious airfare bucks just to hear ME talk about being a vegan bikini competitor.

veg expo 2014 - nina nam and samantha shorkey - Jacked on the Beanstalk

When the expo was over, despite being hangry and exhausted, I asked Nina if she wanted me to give her a quick tour of Vancouver. She immediately said yes and joined me for a stroll along the nearby sea wall.

Nina told me that she had tried going vegan a few times in the past but always ended up going back to her meat eating ways mostly because she just didn’t know how to build muscle without consuming animals.

We didn’t have much time to chat but I really tried my best to inspire and educate her before handing her a complimentary tub of hemp protein and sending her off back to California.

It wasn’t until last December before I heard from Nina again. She emailed me saying that she was finally ready to take the vegan plunge. And this time, it was for good reason. 🙂

Apparently—THE biggest fitness site EVER—was kicking off its annual $200,000 Transformation Challenge on January 1st, 2015 and Nina wanted to give it a shot.

2015-transformation-challenge-bodybuildingcom vegan winner Jacked on the Beanstalk

The 12-week challenge was designed to motivate and incentivize participants to achieve their health and fitness goals with a staggering 435,000 people from all over the world entering!

Winners of the contest were announced on May 11th: two grand prize winners (one male and one female) who would receive $80,000 each and a people’s choice champion who’d take home $40,000.

I worked with Nina for those 12 weeks creating customized nutrition and training plans that worked with her lifestyle and schedule. This girl WORKED HER ASS OFF (literally!) and managed to decrease her body fat by 14% (a total weight loss of 21 lbs.) AND add two full pounds of lean muscle mass!

Yes, Nina got seriously JACKED ON THE BEANSTALK!

From Meat Eater to Vegan: How a Woman Beat 435,000 Entrants and Won’s 2015 $200,000 Transformation Challenge Following a Plant-Based Diet

And here’s the best part of all…

Out of the 435,000 contestants, Nina: the doubtful, lifelong carnivore who didn’t think it possible to gain muscle on a vegan diet proved just how possible it was when she won the $80,000 grand prize.

Yes that’s right! And yes, I am STILL in shock, having just got back from LA to surprise her with the big bag of CASH. transformation challenge winner - bag of cash

Check the video of the big surprise:

And damn right I wore my “vegan-inspired” gym clothes during filming. Team PlantBuilt REPRESENT! 🙂 crew with samantha shorkey and nina nam

And yes, I’d say that’s a pretty big win for veganism too… And my training services! 😉

PS: be sure to read my post which details EXACTLY how we made this transformation possible, complete with diet and workout info. Read it here 🙂

– Samantha Shorkey, Jacked on the Beanstalk

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  • Sam: May 12, 2015

    Awww what a lovely comment!! Thank you sooooo much for the kind words! “I AM CHANGING THE WORLD!!!!!” Definitely quoting that one for the rest of the day ;)

  • Wholesome Road: May 11, 2015

    Amazing story! Congrats to both of you ladies! Such inspiration for readers around the world! I’m reading this from Melbourne, Australia and shared it with some vegan friends :) Beautiful transformation with excellent work! And Nina’s proving that we can do anything we set our minds too. Sam, you’re making your mark and changing the world :)

  • Danielle Marggraf: May 11, 2015

    I want in

  • Sam: May 11, 2015

    Haha with a lot of determination, dedication and the right coach of course ;)

  • Carmi: May 11, 2015

    My gosh! How is this even possible in such a short time?

  • Jacquelyn Son: May 11, 2015

    That’s amazing!!!!! #VegansRock! ;) Good job to the both of you! x

  • Sam: May 14, 2015

    Haha I always feel that way about the “raw vegan” diet :) Never know until you try though!

  • stacy walls: May 14, 2015

    I’m really wanting to go vegan but I too am afraid of sacrificing muscle.

  • CELESTE: May 14, 2015

    that is so cool!!!! Great job in training and planning, and way to stick with it.

  • Sam: May 13, 2015

    Who me? Or Nina? I can only answer for myself. I actually went vegetarian when I was eight years old and vegan in 2011 when I learned more about what goes on in the dairy and egg industries. I am an ethical vegan. And you can see my full answer as to why I’m vegan on my profile at :)

  • rugi: May 13, 2015

    Remind us again why you turned Vegan?

  • joanne: May 12, 2015

    Omgosh this is crazy. Such amazing results! Well done! …right im ready to get serious. I desperatly need a good coach anyone willing to help me start this journey?

  • Sam: May 12, 2015

    Hi Liam! I got the stats off Nina’s BodySpace profile (on She lives in LA and I’m in Canada so I was not able to measure her body composition myself unfortunately.

  • Liam: May 12, 2015

    Wow, that’s an impressive gain of muscle weight in such a small amount of time, on what looks to be a pretty short person. How did you measure her body composition?

  • Sam: August 05, 2016

    Hi Erin!! Aww that’s so awesome!! And seriously, you would not believe how many competitors have come to me looking for help after years of eating a high animal protein based bodybuilder diet. How’s it been going for you since making the switch? Hopefully well!! Anyway, thanks for reaching out and best of luck with everything!

  • Erin: August 05, 2016

    Holy crap. Wow. What a small world! I found your site through “bite size vegan” on YouTube…when arriving to your home page, my mouth dropped at the pic of Nina! I was …AM…the dreadlocked girl she beat in the comp that year. “Hippie Hercules” Random funny story- I was a meat eater then….it was THAT comp that turned me vegan. I was so disgusted with force feeding myself meat those three months, that I was never able to touch it again.

  • Sam: January 02, 2017

    Oh thank you so much for letting me know, Stephanie!! Yes of course I can re-post on my site. Will do soon for sure! Thanks for letting me know and good luck with the challenge!!

  • Stephanie Morris: January 02, 2017

    Hey, I know this is wayyyy after this post, but the link to the Meat Free Athlete article is broken (looks like she changed the format of the website?). Any chance that article could be posted on your website or is there another place to find it??? I’m doing the challenge this year and need all the help I can get! Thanks!

  • Sam: March 26, 2018

    Thank you!

  • sh imran: March 26, 2018

    Both of you are amazing! Vegans Rock! Good job and hope in future we must read about other helpful posts from you.

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