Archive for the ‘Vegetarian Tips’ Category

Can You Be A Vegetarian Athlete?

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Gone are the days when vegetarianism and competitive sport were mutually exclusive. A well-planned diet, experts say, is all it takes to do well on the field without touching meat.

Many athletes are living proof–record-setting marathoner Scott Jurek, runner Bart Yasso, triathlete Brendan Brazier, and bodybuilder Robert Cheeke are just some examples. How do they do it?

According to the No Meat Athlete, the key is simply to focus on healthy, whole foods–just like a regular healthy diet, with the exception of meat. Athletes can go as far down the vegetarian line as they want, from simply cutting out red meat to going fully vegan, organic, and gluten-free. Some athletes claim they get even more energy out of restrictive regimes, such as the macrobiotic diet.

It’s not easy, that’s for sure–especially when you’re surrounded by barbecues and steak-houses. Some “special ingredients,” from little-known beans and pulses to fake meats, can also take some getting used to. Pressure from friends and family can also be prohibitive. But there’s no question that the biggest challenge is finding a diet that works and that you can stick to. For many, that can seem like a one-in-a-million match.

As one might expect, sourcing your protein is an important question, and admittedly the biggest challenge. Protein exists in other foods besides meat (tofu, milk, and beans, to name a few), but usually in smaller amounts. One trick is to keep your sources varied, and to make sure there’s some in every meal.

No Meat Athlete also suggests putting a few “staple foods” in your diet that are easy to find and don’t taste too out of the ordinary. This will make the transition to a vegetarian diet easier. Beans, lentils, brown rice, sprouts, and starchy vegetables (such as potatoes and rutabaga) are some common examples.

One thing about athlete-friendly vegetarian diets is that they can get technical very fast. Some people get lost in the calorie counting and carbohydrate-to-fat ratios. It’s not so much a numbers game as it is one of proportion: more than half of your food should be carbohydrate (that’s where you get your energy), about a fifth should be fat, and about half of that should be protein.

Of course, every athlete has his goals, and the numbers won’t work for everyone. But as long as you avoid the obvious bad apples (e.g. McDonald’s) and take everything in moderation, it’s not too bad if you go below or above from time to time.

Britons Celebrate National Vegetarian Week

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Strictly speaking, this year’s National Vegetarian Week is a British affair–and proudly so. It was the brainchild of The Vegetarian Society, a UK educational charity which, at 164 years, is the world’s oldest vegetarian group. But thanks mostly to in the Internet and social media, vegetarians around the world are joining in.

The program is an awareness campaign aimed at promoting the vegetarian lifestyle, according to the group’s website. This year’s Vegetarian Week, which runs from May 23rd to May 29th, will feature barbecues (the Veggie-Q), wine and cheese nights, free food giveaways, film screenings and information sessions, from Cornwall all the way up to Aberdeen.

Restaurants and groceries are also offering discounts on vegetarian meals and products. Some, such as the YeoPans Chinese Takeaway in Manchester, are offering “meals of the week,” and Birmingham’s Wildmoor Oak Pub and Restaurant has created a special vegetarian menu. A vegetarian buffet in Wales, a free food tasting in Hounslow, a banquet in Mirfield–there’s something brewing in just about every town.

Also part of the event are the Cauldron Hero Awards, given to individuals, groups, and businesses who have shown initiative in spreading and advocating vegetarianism in the UK. The Angel Inn in Skipton and Edinburgh’s L’Artichaut shared last year’s Local Organisation Hero awards, thanks to their local promotions of NVW in their respective towns.

There are also competitions for young cooks and vegetarian chefs. A live cook-off is planned in Altrincham, Trafford, the winner of which will be given the Cordon Vert Chef of the Future award. Among the prizes up for grabs are a full year’s membership to the Vegetarian Society, a basket of approved products, and a scholarship to the Cordon Vert Diploma program.

Earlier this year, aspiring school-age cooks took part in Young Veggies, a series of school competitions that invited children aged 12 and below to create vegetarian meal plans for their schools. Another category asked older kids to create airline menus. The contests were designed to fit into the regular school curriculum, although schools can opt to offer them out of session.

National Vegetarian Week was first celebrated in the UK in 1992 and has since gained widespread recognition as one of the biggest events of its kind in the world. The Vegetarian Society has also become an authority in vegetarian product quality standards, with foods bearing the “Vegetarian Society Approved” label enjoying much higher sales.

Being Vegan: How to Find Motivation

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

The decision to become a vegetarian or a vegan can be a very personal one with many reasons given by people who make this choice to not eat animal products.  Finding motivation to start and continue being vegan is very easy for many people as they consider their choice of not eating meat an ethical one and also a choice that is good for the environment and the planet.  Below are the most common reasons that people choose to become and stay with the vegan way of life.

The ethical reason for not eating meat or animal products is a popular motivation for many people who observe a vegan diet.  Many people object to the way that animals are farmed and slaughtered for consumption making this a very powerful motivation for someone to become a vegan.

Another reason that people become vegan is for health reasons.  Changing to a vegan diet can in many cases increase the health of an individual as they remove fatty and unhealthy foods from their diet and increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Many fast food choices are not vegan friendly so people who are on a vegan diet will avoid eating these foods.

Becoming a vegan also reduces a person’s impact on the environment.  Farming beef cattle, chickens, sheep and pigs uses a huge amount of resources especially water.  Someone who is on a vegan diet doesn’t consume any of these animals and the vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains that are a large part of the vegan diet are produced using only a small proportion of resources.

Another motivation for people to become vegan is the high price of meat and meat products.  People who have to stretch the budget will eliminate expensive items off the shopping list with meat being a main one.  Meat is quite expensive to buy so eating a vegan diet can save some money when it comes to the house hold budgets.

Many vegans stay motivated when it comes to not eating meat as they do not like the taste, smell or the texture of meat and meat products.  Someone else cooking and eating a meal that contains meat is enough of a turn off and motivation for them to remain vegan.

There are many things that can motivate a person to become and stay a vegan and many of these motivations are positive for both the individual and the environment.

Veganism Has Its Risks — Here’s How To Do It Right

Friday, May 13th, 2011

A 2009 survey by the Washington Post showed that vegans account for about a third of American vegetarians, or roughly 1% of the U.S. population. That’s not much, but compared to five years ago, on the whole the vegan movement is well on its way to the mainstream.

But how healthy can a vegan diet really be? A recent study that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that a fully plant-based diet has its risks: for one, vegans are more prone to blood clots and atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries. These are diseases commonly associated with fatty diets and sedentary lifestyles, so what gives?

The lead author, Duo Li from China’s Zhejiang University, believes the risk may be due to the lack of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are vital in the proper function and formation of red blood cells and reducing unhealthy fat. Both are also scarcely found in vegan foods.

Some components of omega-3 are found only in flax, hemp, and chia seeds, while others are present in some algae. Even with regular consumption of these foods, one may still need supplements to get to the required 1.4 to 1.6 grams per day.

Getting enough vitamin B12–the recommended dose is 2.4 mcg per day–is even harder. The only known whole food source is spirulina, a type of algae that’s popular among vegans because of its high protein content. Most vegans obtain it through reabsorption, a process in which previously released nutrients are reabsorbed by the body. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency can take up to 20 years to manifest in people who switch from a regular to a vegan diet.

Omega-3 supplements abound in the market in oil, capsule, and gel forms. Some use fish oils, however, so strict vegans should read their choices carefully. As for vitamin B12 supplements, experts recommend oral types that can be dissolved under the tongue. They get absorbed faster and some say they give you a quick energy boost almost immediately.

Iron deficiency is also a common problem among vegans, although sources abound–they include beans, legumes, and dark green vegetables. This is because they contain a different type that’s less easily absorbed by the body. Doctors suggest combining these foods with a vitamin C source or supplements, taken during the same meal or shortly before, as they help break down the iron content for absorption.

Easy Techniques On Becoming Vegan

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Changing from a diet with very few limitations to a vegan diet can be a struggle for most as it can be a challenge for even the most diehard vegetarians.  There are however some easy techniques to make the transition from your current diet to a vegan diet easier and also increase your chances of being able to stick to the vegan diet even when things get tough.  The following are easy techniques on becoming vegan and having success staying with the vegan diet.

It is important for people who are looking to change their diet to one of a vegan vegetarian do so in a way which sets you up to succeed not fail.  To make things easier when changing elements of your diet it is recommended that you do this slowly by replacing different foods with a vegan choice over a few weeks and months.  Making sure that you don’t keep any of the non vegan food in the house as this may provide an unwanted temptation.

Another easy technique when it comes to becoming vegan is to make sure that you can identify when shopping foods that are suitable for a vegan diet.  Purchasing a few vegan cook books and also using the vast reference material found online is a great way to quickly and easily learn about the foods that are included in a vegan diet.

To make eating a vegan diet easier it is also a good idea to have or to learn some cooking skills.  A common problem with people who don’t do enough research into becoming vegan buy vegan foods but don’t know how to prepare or cook them properly.  Before deciding to become vegan learn to cook some simple vegan dishes and also how to prepare some of the vegan staples which you will be consuming on a daily basis.

The vegan diet is not just about the foods that you cannot have, it is important that this diet also includes treats such as desserts.  People who have a variety of foods including sweet foods in their vegan diet are more likely to stick to this way of eating as we all need a treat or a dessert every once in a while.

Becoming vegan can be a big step for some so it is important to use a few techniques which will make this transition much easier.  If you follow some of these easy techniques then becoming vegan and enjoying the experience should be the result.