With all the health scare going on for several months now and on a global level, I decided to write an article about the vegetarian lifestyle rather than drafting a typical meal plan, dedicated to evade Covid-19. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, there is no such a thing as the anti-coronavirus nutritional lifestyle, and avoiding the virus goes way beyond what you eat. So, whatever you are eating, know how to keep a healthy lifestyle trend, and stay safe. To go back to our subject and to set things straight, let's note that the main difference between vegetarians and vegans is the fact that, while the former consume some animal based products, the latter strictly exclude any animal derived ingredient and look to avoid any form of animal exploitation for food, clothing, science or entertainment.
Previously, the sports nutrition industry had always been keen on shadowing the Vegetarian lifestyle, claiming that it cannot provide the body with the needed amount of proteins required. Nonetheless, over the past few years, this trend has changed, and the vegetarian lifestyle has gained massive momentum. And so, many unbelievable athletes/legends that look ripped have been adopting this lifestyle. Here is a small list of those vegetarian champions:
- Venus Williams: Tennis Legend
- Lewis Hamilton: one of the all time best F1 Drivers
- Nate Diaz: UFC Fighter
- Scott Jurek: long distance runner
- Jermain Defoe: Footballer
- Patrick Baboumian: Body builder and world strongest men!
- Carl Lewis: Athlete
And the list goes on… So how come this is possible, not to eat meat and to fulfill these sporting potentials?
What has helped the vegetarian lifestyle gain this momentum was the increased awareness about the benefits regarding this lifestyle: for instance, in the sports nutrition sector, studies has proved that eating vegetables allows the body to reduce inflammations, which has helped athletes prolong their careers at a vital advantage and reduce their injuries.
As for the mainstream community, a vegetarian lifestyle has massive benefits. It helps with regulating blood sugars, reducing bad cholesterol, losing weight and even overcoming chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Furthermore, the main trend now is the importance to have a healthy gut and what lifestyle suits the microbiome best? The high fiber vegetarian diet.
To have a full insight about this lifestyle, watch The Game Changers, a documentary that highlights this lifestyle in sports nutrition, and if you want to go one step further, read "The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health" by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell.
With every lifestyle come a set of challenges. So what are the difficulties in adopting the vegetarian lifestyle?
To start with myself, I have never adopted this lifestyle thus far, but I plan to give it a try one day, once I move and live on my own for a while…here are in my opinion some challenges when living as a vegetarian:
- Difficulty in adopting it when you are living with your family: let’s face it, if you are part of a family that has a casual eating behavior, it is very tough for one member to adopt this lifestyle especially, with all the temptations going on around them.
- Psychological difficulty: especially for body builders such as myself, overcoming the idea that animal-based protein is key in building muscle and that over all behavior will not be that easy.
- Digestive Problems: expect some digestive issues during the first week, since your fiber intake will increase exponentially compared to what you used to consume, but your body will adapt, especially when you drink a lot of water, which can really help.
- Budget and Creativity: if you want to be creative and enjoy this lifestyle, it is very achievable, you can substitute milk with the unsweetened almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, etc. Same goes for cheese with the Almond cheese being available. But your nutrition budget will have to increase. On a side note, if you stick to the basics (lentils, chickpeas, vegetables, kidney beans, rice, etc.) you can keep a low budget.
The Macronutrients of a Vegetarian Lifestyle
It is essential to look into the availability of protein in the vegetarian lifestyle. Remember, this is of course a diet high on carbs, since most vegetables and fruits are rich in these. Let’s focus on proteins:
- Proteins are to be absorbed from:
- Kidney Beans
- Almond Cheese
- Unsweetened Almond milk, rice milk, pea milk, oat milk
- Soy Milk
- Green Peas
- Peanut Butter
- Chickpeas (or hummus)
- Black Eyed Peas
- Hemp Seeds
- Vegan whey protein supplements
- My favorite sources of carbs include Sweet potatoes and quinoa especially in terms of post workout options.
- Healthy fats include mainly avocado, nuts and peanut butter.
To conclude this article, remember the following:
- If you feel that it is very tough for you to adopt this lifestyle, don’t worry, just stick to a healthy lifestyle and try to add some vegetarian food to your eating diary.
- If you or your loved ones are suffering from a chronic disease, or have high cholesterol levels, then this is the time to give it a try no matter what. You can try it for a month and test again, this could be a game changer for you!
- Avoid additives and packaged food: even on a vegetarian lifestyle, you can still gain weight and be considered as eating unhealthily. That's why it is crucial, so before purchasing any food item, to take a moment and look at the ingredients' list, and if you find any that you cannot read, spell or understand, then don’t buy it.
One last note, stay healthy and stay safe!
Pierre, the Healthy Foodie
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