I’m not a vegetarian but every Monday (and sometimes on Wednesday) I eat no meat. Giving meat up completely is beyond me at the moment but philosophically, I am a vegetarian. This is for three primary reasons.
A. Meat eating is environmentally unsound.
B. Meat eating is cruel.
C. Meat eating may be less healthy.
Ideally, I would go completely vegetarian but realistically it just would not fit into my lifestyle.
Plant eating athlete
As a frequent runner and active person being a vegetarian can be challenging. Here are some tips from Competitor magazine about what you have to do to be an athlete and a vegetarian at the same time.
1. Maintain your protein levels. If you are giving up meat you will be giving up a large source of protein which can have a negative impact on your energy levels. Compensate by snacking on protein throughout the day. Some good sources…raw nuts. I’m a big fan of peanuts and peanut butter.
2. Eat a variety of proteins. There are some essential amino acids you can only get from your diet so to ensure that you get them, try eating a variety of protein sources. This would include beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, quinoa and grains.
3. Use supplements. I’m not a big fan of this idea because the food supplement industry in the US is not regulated but if you are a vegetarian athlete you might need additional supplements to compensate for calcium, iron, and vitamins that you are not getting.
4. Eat Algae. Algae is one of those organisms that falls in between plant and animal. If you are ok with killing microorganisms then this could be for you. It has a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids which has been shown to be good for overall health.
5. Don’t fall for quick fixes. Those mass produced veggie burgers and fake meats are too high in sodium and artificial fillers to be considered healthy. Stick with eating real food whenever possible.
Of course, you could add small amounts of meat to your diet if you want and avoid many of the problems associated with a vegan / vegetarian lifestyle. But if you’re smart about it, you might not have to.