You know what dinosaurs and athletes have in common? They both need meat! Or do they? Even some dinosaurs were vegetarians, and we wouldn’t mess with the long neck dinosaurs.
Dino comparisons aside, there are actually a lot of vegetarian athletes out there believe it or not. Like anything in your diet, changing it to exclude meat completely has huge implications for your athletic performance and lifestyle. If you are determined to go vegetarian, already a vegetarian or just curious about the impacts, we explore the advantages and disadvantages.
People are quick to jump on the offense against vegetarians for some reason, so there are a lot of naysayers out there who say you can’t combine athleticism and vegetarianism. We don’t agree with this perspective.
Just about every expert agrees that with careful planning, a well-balanced and nourishing vegetarian diet is possible. If you are willing to put time and effort to create the veggie lifestyle you desire, then go for it. There are also many creative vegetarian recipes out there, which are delicious and nutritious (Stay tuned to our blog for some ideas)!
Good protein sources include rice, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, the list goes on! You should aim to be incorporating these high protein foods into every meal, as this is essential to athlete recovery.
There are many famous successful vegetarian athletes out there, including US Olympic swimmer, Katie Ziegler. 11 Time Olympic Medalist Natalie Coughlin sticks to a plant based diet, very occasionally eating meat. Tennis champions, Serena and Venus Williams are also famous for being vegans. If they can do it, you can! Perhaps look further into how they managed to pull off training and going veggie to help supplement your knowledge of vegetarianism.
Being a vegetarian isn’t just hard due to the fact you will miss juicy steaks, tender chicken, etc., but it also takes a good deal of time and effort to create a healthy vegetarian diet.
This means you need to know how to get the right amount of protein and nutrients that you normally get from meat, without having meat. You also will probably need to invest in some supplements. Ladies especially need to look out for iron deficiencies from not having meat!
Not to worry our little veggie friends! All of this is possible, but it requires that someone goes into it with an attitude of putting effort into their diet.
Conclusion: Listen to your Body and your Doctor
Due to genetics, environment, etc. – sometimes it is necessary to eat meat. If this is a new change to your diet consult with a doctor and/or nutritionist to plan out how you are going to do this. Also, be sure to monitor how it is impacting your body, mind and energy levels.