Thinking of going vegetarian or vegan?

Here's some important information if you're thinking about making the transition

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Vegetarian and veganism has gained a lot of momentum in the last few years and it’s now easier than ever to make this transition as more shops and restaurants are starting to include a variety of veggie options. In general, a standard western diet includes too much protein and not enough vegetables and with red meat having connections to cancer and the environmental impact that the meat industry is having on our environment it’s no wonder people are starting to make the switch. Going veggie can have a lot of health and performance benefits, such as reduced inflammation, weight loss, lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, as well as improved gut-health, but making the switch doesn’t instantly mean that you’re going to be eating and feeling better. 

Part of the reason that people have such success with going veggie is because, in general, they end up making healthier choices by eating less processed foods and more whole foods. There are plenty of unhealthy veggie-eaters out there that rely on processed meat-substitutes and other packaged foods. I mean, Oreos are technically vegan but that doesn’t make them a healthier choice. Successful veggie eaters get their full servings of vegetables in a day but are not just focused on vegetables. Successful veggie eaters, especially those that are athletes, also view their food as fuel and make sure their meals are well rounded to included a balance of protein and carbohydrates.

For me, it's about optimizing health. It's about lifestyle and longevity. Then you think about what vegetarian diets can do for the mass population, in terms of lower consumption of resources. When you look at the numbers, it's pretty staggering.” - Scott Jurek, elite ultramarathoner, author, and vegan.

Going veggie, especially going vegan, means that you need to pay attention to your vitamin needs. Vegans are more prone to vitamin B12 deficiencies as it is not a vitamin that humans naturally produce but it is found supplemented in many dairy products. Additionally, females, and especially female athletes need to stay on top of their iron intake as female vegan athletes needing 80% more iron than a non-vegan female athlete. Now some of these stats are used to deter people from going veggie, which is understandable as it may not always be best the best diet for everyone and their lifestyles, but in general you can get the nutrients that you need by eating a variety of different types and colours of vegetables, vegetables rich in iron and magnesium, healthy fats from foods like avocados, as well as including items like nutritional yeast and swapping out refined grains for whole grains. Variety is key.

Protein is also important as this what makes us feel full, it is also especially important as an as athlete but this is not as difficult to acquire as many carnivores would have you believe. In general a person requires around 7 grams of protein every day for every 20 pounds of body weight. A cup of cooked lentils provides about 18 grams of protein, around 15 grams of fiber and it has virtually no saturated fat or sodium. There are also plenty of other plant-based options that provide the right amount of protein such as beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, quinoa and nuts. Additionally, even modest vegetables like broccoli, carry certain amounts of protein as do the majority of other vegetables.

The important thing to think about going forward, even if you’re not ready or not willing to make the switch just yet, is to just start off by choosing whole foods, mostly vegetables, and by reducing your intake of meat and diary.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollen, author of “In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

 

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Isractive is based in the 'Old North" of Tel Aviv. Private training sessions usually take place at Kolnoa Peer Fitness Club, occasionally in private workout facilities, and when appropriate out in the field (park).

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