The global environmental crisis is deepening and the meat and dairy industry has been outted as the main culprit. After watching Netflix favorites like Forks over Knives (2011) and Cowspiracy (2014), it’s hard to not want to go vegan. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell first published in 2005 is arguably one of the most comprehensive dietary studies ever conducted. The nutritional study concludes that there is in fact a direct link between eating animal products and chronic illnesses like heart disease or cancer. The study also concludes that eating a whole foods plant-based diet is the overall healthiest.
Converting to a more whole foods plant-based diet is not only the best thing you can do for your health, it also saves the planet while saving the lives of around 200 animals per year. The meat and dairy industry is polluting our rivers, releasing 51% of all carbon emissions into our atmosphere, and unsustainably using fresh water sources and grain stores. An additional benefit of becoming a veg-head is that it can save your wallet an average of $750 a year. Not too bad right?
But how will you continue to bulk up without animal derived protein sources? Isn’t protein king when it comes to building more muscle? There is a new wave of vegan male body builders that would prove that theory wrong.
So what is their secret? Lots of vegan protein supplements? Nope. They simply cut back on proteins and fats and intake a lot of whole-food complex carbohydrates. By shifting the focus from protein, specifically animal protein, to plant-based foods with high nutrient content, the body can reach optimal health receiving higher levels of fiber, water, nitric oxide, vitamins and minerals. You don’t need to eat 5,000 calories a day, you need to be in taking the proper nutrients your body needs to achieve excellent muscle recovery and therefore growth.
Here is a sample meal plan for a vegan participating in an intense weight-training program:
Oatmeal with a banana and almond milk
Tofu scramble with kale, mushroom, and asparagus
Almond Butter Sandwich on whole grain sprouted bread
1 baked sweet potato with ½ an avocado instead of butter
Black bean and artichoke salad with seitan on a bed of spinach
Protein Shake and 1 apple
Indian Daal over brown rice
A large side salad
Almond butter on celery sticks
Some vegan athletes even choose to go supplement and protein shake free when training. Whole food plant-based purists believe that if they are eating enough nutrient dense foods, there is no need to supplement to try and get more protein. The body works most efficiently when given the proper amount of water and quality plant-based nutrients. It is non-processed complex carbohydrates that are truly essential to making healthy gains.
A vegan diet is the diet of the future. It is the most sustainable for the planet, saves animals, prevents chronic illness, and helps when building an ideal physique. There are an abundance of plant-based proteins that take up less of our planet’s resources and absolutely no suffering to produce. Meat and dairy have many proven adverse health effects and in 2016 looking forward it is easy to see why more and more professional athletes and body builders are converting to eating a plant-based diet.