Veganism is much more than just a diet choice – it is a way of life for many people, better known as 'vegans'. Vegans refrain from consuming foods from animals such as meat, fish and poultry, including diary products and eggs.
A vegan diet is mainly made up of vegetables, grains nuts and fruits as well as food made from plants. There are many reasons why someone might choose to live life by following a vegan diet, not just for the proven health benefits, but also ethical and environmental reasons. Many vegans strongly support the rights of animals and choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world.
Veganism nutritional health benefits
- As vegans don't eat meat or dairy products, this reduces the amount of saturated fats in the diet, which will help improve you health and cardiovascular system.
- A vegan diet is high in fibre which has been proven to lead to healthier bowel movements. High fibre diets help fight against colon cancer.
- Nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens are excellent sources of magnesium, which is an essential vitamin in a healthy diet.
- As vegans don't eat any foods that come from animals, this eliminates all dietary cholesterol from their diet, which will help keep the heart healthier.
- Vegan diets have been linked with lowering your chances of developing a variety of different types of cancer.
As a vegan it is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet and since they are not getting quality protein from animal sources, it is crucial that they make up for this by getting it from other sources such as:
- Peanut butter
- Soy milk
- Whole wheat bread
Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Zinc and Iron are also essential to promote a healthy balanced diet. Vegans can make sure they are getting these by consuming foods such as:
- Kidney beans
- Prune juice
- Dark green vegetables
Veganism and training
Protein is the building blocks for muscle. Without enough protein, your body will struggle to put on lean quality muscle, no matter how hard you train. The majority of bodybuilders and athletes in the world get their daily protein from animal sources like eggs, chicken, lean red meat, fish and protein powders.
However, there is evidence to suggest that someone following a vegan diet can still make impressive gains in muscle and strength when their training is supported by a vegan diet based around plant based sources.
One of the most well known vegan athletes in the world is Patrik Badoumian, who is a German Strong Man competitor. Patrik holds the world log lift record for under 105kg, with a 165kg lift, as well as the German heavyweight log lift record. His heaviest log lift is 190kg. In 2011, he won Germany's Strongest Man (105kg category).
Patrik turned vegan in 2011 after a number of years as a vegetarian. He says:
“I just found myself thinking that if I would have to kill the animals I ate with my own hands, I couldn't, because I was to compassionate. I felt that I was fooling myself eating meat considering my inability to kill an animal so I just thought I'd better be honest to myself and stop eating meat.”
Patrik is a great example to show people that you can still compete at a high level without the need to consume the bulk of your protein intake from animal sources. Patrik has gone on to inspire other athletes and people to try veganism as well as writing a book on sports nutrition in 2014.