Vegans and athletes can mix

In the latest debate over the vegan versus meat eaters debate one of the lesser known issues is whether athletes are able to live their vigorous lifestyle while forgoing meat, the answer may be surprising.


Battles between vegans and non-vegans have caused some to draw sharp lines. On the one hand there are the militant vegans who attempt to strong-arm those eating hamburgers, chicken, pork and other meat products to change their ways on the grounds it is “murder.” Then there are those meat eaters that make it a point to flaunt their choice of diet with such things as bumper stickers that say “PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals.”

The debate over diets are constantly going back and forth, it has become a standard joke that when it is announced that something is bad for you that all you have to do is wait six months and they will find it to be healthy.


Often these debates revolve around issues of choice and personal health. First Lady Michelle Obama once visited a military base and encouraged soldiers to eat their vegetables. One of the biggest objections to a vegetarian diet comes from athletes and those living a vigorous lifestyle such as those in the military who argue that such a diet is not conducive to their activity level.


At first, the concerns may appear to be valid, as their high metabolic rates often need high levels of protein and calories. For instance, some athletes require 12,000 calories a day to compete. With levels this high, eating a strictly vegetarian diet can seem to be somewhat challenging since vegetables typically do not have the high calories and protein of meat and poultry products.


Surprisingly, that turns out not to be the case and there is a way for those desiring the benefits of a vegetarian diet to get enough protein and calories for their training.


First, it is important to understand that just like people in any group there are many different types of vegetarians and not all are limited to strictly vegetables.


For example there are the lacto-vegetarians who eat dairy products as part of their diets and pescatarians who allow fish as part of their diet.


With this in mind there are many types of foods that would enable an athlete to compete. For example, eggs a great source of protein while soy protein is low in fat and cholesterol. Additionally, nuts and seeds provide a great source of protein, all without eating beef or other meats.


In short, while there is no end in sight for the “war” over meat versus vegetarian diets, those who engage in an athletic lifestyle have a variety of choices to choose from.



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