Growing up in a health conscious family, eating an organic vegetarian diet in my mothers house, all felt normal to me. I didn't actually know how well I was eating until I moved out and went to college. It felt like everyone ate junk food all the time and I was horrified. In my first year of college I read The China Study and it was a turning point in my life.
I started reading everything I could get my hands on about plant based diets and athletic performance. I used myself as my own experiment. I ate junk food and meat and dairy and my rowing/erg times suffered. I felt terrible and gave up quickly. I followed a vegan diet and lifestyle and my athletic performance improved dramatically. After my simple experiment, I was convinced.
If you are wondering the same for yourself, here are five facts to consider:
1. First things first - High quality protein is abundant in plant foods. No one cares about your protein intake until they find out your vegan. But have no fear, plants have protein too!
2. Whole, plant-based foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12) we need. Plant foods have dramatically more antioxidants, fiber, and minerals than animal foods.
3. Plants lack saturated fat and cholesterol, which greatly increase the risk chronic heart disease. Any chronic inflammatory conditions are not got to help your athletic performance.
4. Human digestive tract and gorillas digestive tract are very similar in structure and function. Plants are the primary diet of gorillas, who are pound for pound one of the strongest animals in the kingdom. Our bodies are designed to eat plants like they do.
5. When acidic forming food (animal products) is consumed, starting with digestion and continuing until elimination, it produces toxins that the body must deal with. That is not going to make you run faster or lift heavier. Plant proteins give your body that alkaline advantage it needs to produce maximum athletic ability.
I would call myself a lazy-vegan now. I do not buy any animal products. 99.5% of my diet is plant based. I have to admit, a few times a year I will eat fish if I'm visiting Mom. I don't feel guilty about doing so, but I am very conscious of it. Choose the diet that is best for you. That fun of nutrition and diet is that it can be a life long experiment to find the best foods for your body.