Note: While all posts in my blog reflect my personal opinion, I want to explicitly make that statement again for this post as it does bring up a topic that is sometimes too hotly contested. I was born a vegetarian and was one for most of my youth. Most of my closest friends were (and are) meat-eaters, and I just turned into one as well. But I was never completely happy about it or at peace with it. So, a couple of years ago, I finally decided that I couldn't do it anymore and became vegetarian again. What is the point of this post? I am writing about this now because I am contemplating eating meat again. This is mostly a personal post, so feel free to skip to the last paragraph. Why am I vegetarian in the first place - especially if I am serious about fitness? The moral argument of being a vegetarian is mostly moot. I completely understand that. Even though I buy cage-free, free-range eggs and try to buy milk from happy cows, it is near-impossible to be perfect about this. Plus, even if am vegan, that does not mean I wont have blood on my hands. Agriculture is one of the foremost causes for the destruction of the environment. Not to add the amount of animals that are killed while grains are harvested by machines - rabbits, cute little harvest mice and the like. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Plus, no one is really vegan"][/caption] Then there's evolution. We are evolved to eat meat. I accept that. No arguments. If you want to read some related research to this, here's some paleo related research. Or how/why meat was necessary for evolution. Then what is it? It just comes down to the fact that I cannot kill an animal and eat it. And I always said if I am ever going to start, I have to do something like what this person did. I highly recommend you to read that piece. But what does this mean for people who will never eat meat in their diet? If you want to be a serious athlete and reach your genetic potential, it is still possible to achieve it with a vegetarian diet. Yes, it is a lot harder to do it this way, but not impossible - not by a long stretch. So, do not fret - you can get really fit by being vegetarian. There are a few simple things you can do to help you get there: 1. Get adequate amounts of Omega-3 and Fish oil - Vegetarians/vegans do not get adequate amounts of EPA or DHA in their diet. Flax-seed oil and other alternates do not provide one with enough EPA or DHA. While I understand 'fish oil' comes from fish, I just want to throw it out there. Yes, it really does make that big a deal. For more information, check this out. Or for a more academic article, check this.
2. Protein - Protein sources are in short supply as well, for vegetarians and vegans. There are issues with over-consumption of soy, tempeh etc. And while legumes (for example) do contain protein - the amount of carbohydrates it comes with makes it a very poor protein source. I will let you figure out what works for you. Hemp protein is one thing you could benefit from - it contains all essential amino-acids and is not illegal.
3. Fat-soluble vitamins - Take some supplements for this. Easy insurance. For some detailed reading, check out Robb Wolf's post on this topic.
4. Food Intolerance - Eating the same foods can cause an intolerance, and that leads to adding...
5. Diversity in your food - Eat as many different things as you can.
6. And eat real food. none of that processed stuff.
Once again, being vegetarian/vegan does not mean you cannot be fit. Some things are a little harder, that's all. For a related post and more reading, go here. Maybe some day, I will taste some awesome fish from Las Palmas - Ted talk; the related article if you dont feel like watching a video (you should watch it).