Often times people have a misconception about vegan weight lifting. Vegan weight lifters can be seen as being weak, malnourished, and not living up to their potential whilst eating a plant based diet.
However, this is not the case.
Being a vegan fitness athlete
Since the beginning of time, it has been taught that meat is an essential part of one's diet, especially when trying to obtain muscle. However, since becoming vegan, I have noticed this to be inaccurate and the complete opposite. When switching over to an all plant based diet, I have noticed an incredible change in my body’s way of storing fat and obtaining muscle. I was able to burn fat, and put on muscle weight, at a much faster rate than before; and while my strength and ability to lift heavier had gone up, so had my endurance.
The way my body felt after the transition has been beyond magical, and has been extremely beneficial to myself, and my fitness goals. No wonder the strongest man alive is vegan!
So, why did I go vegan in the first place?
After watching numerous health documentaries, I could not ignore the many positives of leading a vegan lifestyle. Not only is it beneficial to my own health, it is also beneficial to everyone else's life around me, including the earth and all species that coexist with us.
Here are some facts that opened my eyes the most:
1) Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
2) 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
3) 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
4) 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.
5) 5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.
6) Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all freshwater consumption in the world today.
7) Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
8) Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US.
9) 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
With all this said, a person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food.
Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. This was something I could not ignore.
Being the compassionate, environmentally friendly person I am, how could I continue to destroy the earth with my eating habits. Even with all these eye-opening facts, there was one selfish thought holding me back; the worry of not having a balanced diet due to the loss of protein derived from animals. Boy, was I wrong!
Staying on track
Cutting out animal products in your diet without replacing it with enough nutrient enriched food, can cause various vitamin deficiencies. However, if you stay on track, I promise it is not hard at all. What I have found super helpful for me, is using an App to track all my macros. With this App, I am able to record everything I eat in a day, including macros, which ensures I am not going over my daily calorie intake, and that I am obtaining enough protein, carbs, etc.
With this, I have yet to become protein deficient and/or malnourished, which was my biggest concern.
Once I had continued to eat a vegan diet, I became more aware of which foods are high in protein, so here is a list I am happy to share with you:
High protein vegan foods:
Tempeh 1 cup = 31g protein
Peanut butter 2 tbsp = 8g protein
Lentils (100g) = 25g protein
Tofu (100g) = 8g protein
Seitan (100g) = 75g protein
Quinoa (100g) = 13g protein
Hemp seeds (100g) = 32g protein
Chia seeds (100g) = 17g protein
Oat (100g) = 17g protein
Almonds (100g) = 21g protein
Broccoli (100g) = 3g protein
Chickpeas (100g) = 19g protein
Since becoming vegan, I have noticed many changes in my physical health. I have always had a weak stomach and it seemed to always get upset after I ate. However, once I cut animal products out of my diet, I no longer experience any sort of upset stomach or bloating.
Also, my skin began to clear up- the more I cut out animal products, the healthier my body began to not only feel, but look.
Due to the amount of vitamins I get from fruits and vegetables, I fall asleep easier, and wake up with more energy than before. Not to mention, I can last longer in the gym without feeling tired.
It is truly amazing how much a vegan diet has changed me.
Before becoming vegan, I didn't drink as many smoothies as I do now, but I have got to tell you, it has been a tremendous help when needing to get enough vitamins and protein in a day!
One single smoothie can have 40g+ of protein, depending on the amount of chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. you put in it. It is not only easy to make and drink, but it isn't time consuming either. I also don't feel the need to use any protein powders because to me, I save money making a yummy smoothie instead, and it's easier on my stomach this way.
I hope sharing this little bit of information about why I chose to become vegan, how it has affected me as a fitness athlete, and how I stay on track getting enough protein in my diet, has helped.
To check out my fitness journey follow my Instagram.
If you want some more vegan inspo, check out Stephanie Moir explaining her plant-based diet here.