Cutting down on meat consumption or even excluding it entirely from your diet can seem like a big challenge. Especially for athletes.
But we're going to break a myth today: It's possible to eat veggie while having plenty of energy to train!
Meat is not an essential food for energy. We can get our nutrients elsewhere. The proof, great athletes like Carl Lewis, Mike Tyson and Georges Laraque do not consume any product of animal origin and manage to perform.
Why prioritize plant-based food?
Vegetable proteins are very good for your health: they are very low in saturated fat and do not contain the cholesterol present in animal proteins. According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a vegetarian diet can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and help maintain a healthier weight, while reducing the incidence of diabetes.
It is also important to mention the savings you will make by replacing meat with legumes every now and then. Chickpeas are much cheaper than chicken!
How to get there ?
I am not a nutritionist, but I have mainly eaten plants for a few years. My first tip, when deciding to cut meat, is to replace it with vegetable proteins, such as legumes (lentils, soybeans, peas, beans, etc.), nuts, cereals, etc.
Don't worry, you won't have to eat tofu with every meal for the rest of your life! Yes, tofu is a good option to include soy on your plate, but more and more by-products are available to replace meat and provide you with the nutrients you need. And if you need a quick boost of protein after exercise, there are several options for plant-based protein powders or bars out there.
A simple trick to start is to choose one or two days in the week when you do not eat any meat, to get used to cooking veggie (the famous #meetlessmonday). You might be surprised to find that the vast majority of your favorite dishes can be easily recreated with plant-based products.
And the goal is not necessarily to become 100% vegan overnight. We are going gradually, at our own pace.
Vegetarianism, veganism and veganism: The differencess
These are the three main terms when it comes to plant food (which can be scary at first).
Quickly, the vegetarianism is a diet without meat and without fish.
Le veganism excludes meat and fish, but also food products that come from an animal, such as milk, eggs, honey.
Then the veganism goes beyond just food; it is to have a way of life which excludes any product of animal origin and exploitation of animals. For example, a vegan does not use fur, leather and wool, and does not encourage any product tested on animals.
So, if you are hesitant to embark on this type of diet, we suggest you check out the following resources:
- Vegan and balanced, is it possible? by Caroline Toupin on defis.ca
- 5 tips for a balanced vegetarian diet by Marie-Ève Caplette