As plant-based diets continue to gain popularity throughout the country and more and more delicious vegetarian and vegan food becomes accessible, many people wonder about some of the common misconceptions surrounding becoming vegetarian. Whether you have been a vegetarian for decades or are just recently thinking about making the switch, there are a variety of myths about plant-based diets that you should know are false, especially when it comes to fitness, bodybuilding, and weightlifting.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to vegetarian and vegan diets. For example, in the fitness industry (especially within the weightlifting and bodybuilding community) people might think plant-based diets are not the most beneficial. Some weightlifters still believe that eating meat is the only way to get the essential protein intake that your body needs. These claims have ultimately been proven false as there are a variety of other non-meat foods that contain protein. But because of these myths, many athletes are afraid to take the step into a plant-based lifestyle. Many amazing, talented athletes out there have actually flourished on a plant-based diet, like Olympic athletes Serena and Venus Williams or Carl Lewis. Working around a plant-based diet is not only incredibly healthy and eco-friendly, but it can assist you with building muscle and getting your body working to the best of its ability too.
Wondering what other vegetarian or vegan facts you’ve heard that may not really be true? Here are four of the most common myths about being a muscle-building vegetarian or vegan and the truth behind each of them.
1. Plant-Based Diets Don’t Get Enough Protein
One of the most common misconceptions you might hear about a vegetarian or vegan diet is that they lack the proper amount of protein. This misconception is why a large number of athletes are often turned off by a plant-based diet, because protein is so essential for their strength and weight gain. But, research has proven this myth wrong for a multitude of reasons.
Plant-based diets, whether vegan or vegetarian, are completely capable of having protein-packed meals. In fact, many vegetarian foods, such as eggs, beans, grains, and nuts, are all packed with protein, and a lot of the time more than meals with meat. On top of that, vegans and vegetarians can still up their protein intake more (just like the average meat-eater) with a few simple vegetarian protein shakes.
2. Nutrient Deficient
Another common myth surrounding vegetarian and vegan diets suggests that they are nutrient deficient. In the world of muscle and strength building, getting the proper amount of protein, vitamins, and nutrients is essential to having a healthy, strong, and fit body. While on a vegetarian or vegan diet, you may want to add certain vitamin and mineral supplements to your routine, but you are in no way nutrient deficient. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals. There are just some vitamins and minerals you might be lower on once you cut meat out, which means you will have to focus more on the foods you’re eating now and the nutrients they contain to make sure that you are on track. The one vitamin that all vegetarians and vegans should supplement no matter what is vitamin B12, as this is one of the main vitamins that comes from meat because it is often supplemented for the animals, too. By adding some vitamins and supplements into your routine while continuing on a filling, healthy, plant-based diet, your body will stay in the best shape.
3. Can’t Build Muscle or Strength
Many people within the fitness world believe that you can’t build muscle or that you struggle to increase your strength when working out on a plant-based diet. However, there is actually no scientific proof or even any studies that have been done showing that vegetarians and vegans are not able to form the same amount of muscle or strength as those who eat meat. Vegans and vegetarians are capable of making large muscle gains and building their strength and endurance. In fact, a variety of studies have found that vegans and vegetarians often have higher endurance than omnivores.
4. Vegetarians Eat Less/More Boring Food
Another common misconception about a plant-based diet is that it might take food off your plate or decrease the amount you eat overall. This is a myth. With plant-based diets, you are more likely to be eating more of the vegetarian and vegan foods that you love in order to keep up with your calories, protein intake, etc.
Some people argue that a plant-based diet is boring, which is far from the truth. Vegetarian and vegan dishes often have the most creativity put into them as well as different kinds of flavor. There’s much more to a vegetarian or vegan diet than just fruit and vegetables, like so many athletes want to think. In fact, now there are many different vegetarian meal delivery services that can help people on a plant-based diet continue to eat healthy, creative, and delicious dishes every day. These meal delivery services are amazing for busy people who are often on the go or don’t have time to grocery shop, such as athletes.
Food and Your Fitness Journey
Ultimately, there are a variety of different benefits that come along with switching to a plant-based lifestyle. From better health, with aspects like lower cholesterol levels and higher endurance, to being much more environmentally friendly, switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet can be a great choice for a variety of reasons.
If you are an athlete and are thinking about switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet, let us help you take the next step. Cooking can be intimidating, especially if you’re dealing with food you might not be used to. Here at Food and Wine, we give advice and tips on how to love the food you’re cooking while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check out some of our favorite plant-based meal kits for more information on how you can have delicious, creative meals at home.