A Word of Advice to the Vegan Athlete
Vegan Athletes are in High Demand These days. There are many reasons why they are so popular nowadays. They have become very well known for their achievements in sports such as weightlifting, running, cycling, swimming etc.
Many celebrities have embraced veganism and it’s health benefits. You may even hear them say that they eat nothing but fruit and vegetables all day long!
However, there are other reasons why they are becoming popular too. One reason is because they don’t need to worry about animal products anymore. Another reason is because they do not have to put up with the cruelty of factory farming any longer.
Most importantly though, these athletes feel better about themselves when they’re eating vegan food instead of meat or dairy products. So if you want to live a healthier life then go vegan!
You might wonder what exactly is a vegan?
Well, let me tell you. A vegan is someone who does not consume any type of animal product whatsoever. That includes fish, eggs, milk, honey and cheese (although I’m sure some people would argue that those are all acceptable).
What makes a person a vegan? Is it just the lack of consumption of animals?
No! It’s more than that. Vegans believe that there is no place for humans in the world based on their beliefs. They think that animals have equal rights to humans, so they shouldn’t be harmed in any way.
Sounds pretty strange, right?
It’s a pretty odd concept, but in this day and age, it’s not the first time we’ve seen a strange ideology. I think though that most people could agree that vegans are pretty open-minded people. They care about the environment and they care about the well-being of other living creatures. It’s just too bad they care more about the lives of plants and animals rather than the lives of humans. With that being said, let’s begin!
What Can You Eat as a Vegan?
Most people think that vegans only eat lettuce and carrots all day. While there are some vegans who do eat like this, it would be very difficult to survive off of nothing but vegetables. There are also some vegans who try their best to eat organic, but that can get pretty expensive, not to mention time-consuming.
The good thing about being a vegan is that you can get a lot of nutrients from fruits and vegetables. While there haven’t been any scientific studies to prove it, many vegans seem to look and feel younger than non-vegans.
So what do vegans usually eat?
Fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and pulses. Now before you say that you’ve got that stuff in your kitchen, wait until you see what else they eat!
Fruits and vegetables are pretty obvious. You can also find soy products such as tofu, tempeh and edamame. As for grains, they usually eat things like rice and even pasta!
Beans and pulses are the things that a lot of people don’t normally think about. You can find a lot of protein in things like chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils. It just goes to show that you don’t need meat to survive!
How to Cook Vegan Food
Many people think that vegans only eat raw food. This is completely untrue. While some vegans do eat raw food, most of them cook their food.
The reason why some vegans eat raw food is because cooking it can sometimes destroy certain nutrients. That being said, there are many ways to cook vegan food so that you’re still getting all the nutrients you need.
There are four main categories of cooking techniques for vegan food:
All of these techniques don’t require you to use oils or fats while you’re cooking.
What Can You Drink as a Vegan?
When people think of vegans, they often think that these people only drink water. While water is essential for survival, it gets pretty boring to drink all the time. Many vegans drink a lot of tea and coffee. There are also many other drinks that vegans consume. Some of these drinks are:
Most supermarkets stock their non-dairy milks in the same section as the cows’ milk. You can also find them in the organic food section. Many health food shops will have a much wider range of vegan drinks, including fruit juices and smoothies.
Since many vegans avoid gluten and sugars, these drinks can sometimes be healthier than regular drinks.
What Can You Cook As a Vegan?
One of the main things that people associate with vegans is that they only eat salads. While it’s true that many people think that way, it’s incredibly boring and unhealthy to eat only salads all day. It’s much better to eat a balanced diet that contains a mixture of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses and nuts.
There are many foods that vegans can eat. Most of these foods are considered to be healthy. There are also certain foods that vegans tend to stay away from, such as:
Meat and seafood
These food groups are not part of a vegan diet because animals have to suffer and die in order for people to eat them. Vegans feel that it’s not good to support industries which hurt animals. As you can see, a vegan diet is much more than just not eating meat.
What Should You Watch Out For?
There are certain things that vegans need to watch out for when they’re buying food. It’s important for vegans to check the ingredients on food labels to make sure that the product is vegan-friendly. Sometimes, certain products that are supposed to be for vegans actually contain animal products!
Some animal products that can hide in foods that you wouldn’t expect are things like:
Carmine or Cochineal which is a food additive made from crushed beetles. It’s commonly found in sweets and fruit flavored products.
L-Cysteine is an amino acid that’s found in chicken feathers. It’s used as a baking ingredient in breads, pizzas and other baked goods. It’s also used as a dough conditioner which makes the dough easier to work with.
Yes, you read that right. Chicken feathers are in your bread.
There are certain foods and drinks that vegans need to avoid altogether. These include:
Alcohol – Most alcoholic drinks are not vegan-friendly. This is because alcohol is distilled using animal parts, usually from sheep brains or fish. Some types of alcohol are also filtered using animal parts.
Sweets – Many sweets contain ingredients that aren’t friendly to vegans. These include ingredients like honey, milk chocolate, gelatin (usually made from animals’ hooves) and dairy cream.
Medication – Some common medicines that you can buy over the counter contain animal products. This includes aspirin, gluten pills and iodine.
Vitamin D – Many people think that the best source of Vitamin D is from the sun. While the sun can help your body create this vitamin, it’s not really reliable since your skin can be damaged by too much sun. The best source of Vitamin D is supplements or foods fortified with Vitamin D.
However, most supplements contain vitamin D3 which is usually from lanolin, a substance secreted by sheep to keep their wool clean and waterproof.
If you’re thinking of becoming a vegan, the first thing you should do is to visit your doctor or nutritionist. They can give you advice on how to get all the nutrients that your body needs without eating animal products. If you’re going vegan for ethical reasons then it’s very important that you get enough protein in your diet.
It is possible to survive on a vegan diet as long as you plan your meals and eat all the right foods.
Protein – Vegans need to make sure that they get enough protein every day. There are many vegan foods that contain protein such as:
Lentils – a cup of cooked lentils contains 17 grams of protein.
Chickpeas – also known as garbanzo beans, a cup of cooked chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein.
Tofu – 200 grams of firm tofu contains 31 grams of protein.
Hemp milk – a cup of hemp milk contains 10 grams of protein.
Quinoa – a cup of cooked quinoa contains 9 grams of protein.
Almonds – a cup of almonds contains 6 grams of protein.
Spinach – a cup of cooked spinach contains 5 grams of protein.
Broccoli – a cup of cooked broccoli contains 4 grams of protein.
Rice – a cup of cooked rice contains 4 grams of protein.
These are just some of the many foods that you can eat to get your daily protein.
Iron – You may be prone to getting iron deficiency if you follow a vegan diet. Good sources of iron include:
Leafy greens – Leafy greens such as collard greens, turnip greens and kale contain iron. One cup of cooked collard greens contains 6.4 milligrams of iron, which is almost 30% of your daily needs.
Seeds – Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds are all high in iron. One tablespoon of pumpkin seeds contains 1.3 milligrams of iron.
Black strap molasses – Black strap molasses is a great source of iron and other nutrients. One tablespoon contains 6.4 milligrams of iron.
Tofu – It may seem strange but 200 grams of firm tofu contains 1.8 milligrams of iron.
Other foods that contain iron include clams, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, beef and turkey.
Calcium – Calcium is important for your teeth and your bones. If you don’t eat dairy products often then it’s really important that you eat other foods that contain calcium. These foods include:
Sesame seeds – 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds contains 74 milligrams of calcium.
Sardines – Sardines are one of the few types of fish that contain calcium. Three ounces of sardines packed in water contain 20% of your daily needs of calcium.
Kale – 1 cup of chopped kale contains 79 milligrams of calcium.
Spirulina – 1 tablespoon of spirulina contains 55 milligrams of calcium.
Frozen soy milk ice cubes – Instead of using regular ice cubes, you can use frozen soy milk ice cubes. One cube contains 120 milligrams of calcium.
Frozen broccoli – Instead of using ice cubes you can use frozen broccoli. One cup of frozen broccoli contains 78 milligrams of calcium.
Foods to Avoid
There are certain foods that you should try to avoid if you have a vegan diet. These foods include:
Alcohol – Alcohol is bad for everyone, no matter what type of diet you’re on.
Coffee – While coffee doesn’t have any animal products in it, it is a plant product. You may be wondering why you can’t drink coffee but can eat other plants. While this may seem backwards it all boils down to what you’re used to.
For most people, they grew up drinking cow’s milk and eating chicken. You’re not used to eating other types of animals so you shouldn’t drink their milk or eat anything that comes from them.
Sugar – Sugar is a diet hazard and should be avoided at all costs.
Junk food – Junk food contains a lot of preservatives and other ingredients that aren’t good for you. Even if the foods don’t have animal products in them you’re still not getting any nutrients.
Soft drinks – Soft drinks are very bad for your body. They contain acid that can cause osteoporosis and liver damage. They also contain high amounts of sugar.
Fried foods – When food is fried, it causes an increase in “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. These can cause heart disease and cancer.
Non-organic dairy and meat – You are what you eat and by eating animals that have been pumped full of hormones and drugs you could be increasing your chances of getting cancer and other diseases.
Soy – Soy has been getting a lot of bad press lately. It has been linked to causing man Boobs, thyroid problems and even infertility.
Canned Foods – Canned food have been found to contain chemicals that can cause cancer. It’s best to avoid them as much as possible.
Trans Fats – Trans fats have been found to increase your chances of getting heart disease and cause other types of cancer. It also increases the chances of you becoming obese.
How to Cook Vegan Food
Now that you have an idea of what foods are good for a vegan diet and which ones you should try to avoid, it’s time to learn how to cook your vegan meals. There are many different ways to cook vegan food but here are a few tips that you should keep in mind.
Beans are a great source of protein and are very easy to make. Always remember to wash your beans thoroughly before cooking them. Also, make sure that you do not throw out the water that the beans were soaking in.
Once the beans are done cooking, strain the water into a bowl. You can use this water instead of water when you’re cooking rice or other grains.
When you cook grains, always cook them in double the amount of water. Any extra water can also be used in other recipes that require water, such as soups or stews.
When you cook vegetables it is best to steam them. Not only is steaming better for you than deep frying but it’s also faster and easier. Plus, using a steamer means that you do not have to watch the food as closely as you would if you were boiling it.
Mushrooms should be cooked with a small amount of water, or in a small amount of oil, if you are going to eat them. When cooking mushrooms the main thing that you have to worry about is cooking them for too long, as this can make them tough and rubbery.
Always cook grains and veggies together so you can use the same water when you’re done. This prevents food waste and is also good for the environment.
If you don’t like the taste of a certain vegetable or fruit, try making it into a juice or smoothie and see if that helps. You might be surprised at how the taste changes when the food is blended up.
Make sure that you eat your grains, beans, fruits and vegetables all mixed together. Don’t eat just potatoes all day or just salad all day long. This isn’t good for your health or your taste buds.
Always make vegan meals in a large amount as it’s better to have leftovers than to have to deal with cooking again shortly after you’ve just finished a meal.
Your vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to live on boring, tasteless food that looks the same and has no flavor. With the tips from this article, you can start eating tasty, healthy food that gives your body all the nutrients that it needs to keep you going through the day.
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Sources & references used in this article:
The Vegan Athlete: Maximizing Your Health and Fitness While Maintaining a Compassionate Lifestyle by B Greene, B Stewart – 2013 – books.google.com
Iron fulfillment possible through vegetarian lifestyle by D Brown – Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2003 – search.proquest.com
Clinical sports nutrition by L Burke, V Deakin, V Deakin – 2000 – ehubassist.anu.edu.au
Vegan Diet by C Taylor – empowher.com
Vegan Diet by FJ Kinder, G Phillips, L Runnels, AM Hirsch, A Bunton… – whc-shreveport.com