Is a plant-based diet right for me?
20 June 2022
20 June 2022
By Pete Cooper, co-founder of Coopah
‘To vegan or not?’ is a hot topic within the running community and our partners at Coopah had some good discussions on this thanks to their community chat and also their nutritionist, Jackie Kirchner.
Remember, getting your diet right can seriously help you up your running game and nutrition plays a key role in supporting all areas of running, including endurance, strength, and recovery.
Basically, it means eating foods that are made from plants, not animals. These include fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Being a plant-based eater doesn't necessarily mean that you never eat animal products like meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. It means that you mostly choose plant-based foods. Many people prefer the term plant-based to vegetarian or vegan, but they're not strictly the same thing.
There are many benefits. Plant-based foods are often low in fat and cholesterol, but high in antioxidants, which can help with recovery and muscle fatigue. They provide plenty of fibre, which is good for your belly and feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Plant-based foods can also reduce inflammation, which is especially good for athletes.
Many people also opt for a plant-based diet as it can be better for the environment. It takes a lot of resources to produce meat, eggs, and dairy. Eating these foods can also decrease your risk of many chronic diseases.
Maybe. Most people can benefit from eating more plants and reducing their intake of meat and other animal products. However, whether or not you choose to completely give up animal products is a personal decision. Remember that one way of eating isn’t necessarily right for every person.
Nearly all foods provide a little bit of protein. That said, you want to make sure you're including foods that are high in protein at each meal and snack.
Here's some great sources of plant-based protein:
You can also get protein from whole grains (like wild rice). Vegetables and fruits provide a little bit of protein as well, though not a lot.
If you avoid meat but aren't against animal products in general, then you can also include eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt (choose Greek for higher protein content), and cottage cheese.
Even if you avoid animal products, you can get all the nutrients that you need. That said, it doesn't happen by accident!
You need to be more mindful of getting vitamin B12 (found mainly in animal products), iron (which is found in plant-based protein, but not absorbed as well), zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Eat a variety of different foods - that way you're more likely to get all of your micronutrients.
Start by eating more foods that are high in protein that you already like. If you like beans, then add some to soups, salads, or stir-fries. If you like nuts, then make sure you have them around for snacks.
Make a point to start trying new foods and adding them to your diet. Google recipes for "meatless Mondays" and try something that sounds good. For example, if you love tacos, then look for a meatless taco recipe.