The outdated concerns for the planted athlete
I recently read a sports paper on endurance athletes who ‘use’ a plant-based diet. For starters….’use’ a plant-based diet…since when do we use a diet, don’t we follow it? Reading on some of what I continued to read had me a little perplexed.
- Unique dietary preferences
- Nutrition myths
- Understand why they eat the way they do
- Address nutrition concerns
What worries me about this language and article is its singles out those who choose to ‘use’ a plant-based diet as if no other diet raises as many concerns or dietary risks. Maybe I am looking too much into this as for the purpose of this article it has chosen not to focus on any other diet especially the so called healthy Western diet to judge so let’s read on, more about plant-based diets.
The need to define
I am not that much further into the article when the importance is shone on a few key definitions – plant-based vs vegan vs vegetarian.
This article refers to a plant-based diet as one that “consists largely or solely of vegetables, grains, pulses or other foods derived from plants rather than animals, but it does allow room for flexibility” hmmm, does it? If you eat plants, animals, and dairy no matter the quantity you are an omnivore or what we hear a lot a flexitarian. You can’t call yourself ‘mostly plant-based’ you are either plant-based or you are not. Let’s not start confusing people now.
Noted much more simply, a vegan and vegetarian diet are ‘more structured’; vegan is defined as someone who won’t eat animal products or by-products – no meat, dairy, honey or eggs. Vegetarians typically include dairy products and occasionally eggs. Now that is nice and clear.
Who do we point the finger at for the confusion about what plant-based vegans do and do not eat? When I head to a restaurant or café that is not predominately plant-based or vegan when I mention my diet choice I often hear back ‘so you are gluten free?’ What, no. Are all food intolerances put into the same box because everyone is just so confused about how people are choosing to eat these days?
The Game Changers
Reading on, the article mentions documentaries such as Gamer Changers which I agree a plant-based diet was made out to be something nothing short of magical and I left the cinema feeling like I had been somewhat ripped off turning vegan more than 20 years prior – I decided then and there to be a born again vegan, surely I had to get on the vegan train (choo choo) and reap the benefits of extended life expectancy, increased performance and a leaner body composition.
A lot of this article annoyed me because where we are with scientific research and current health, we are still seeing a yearly rise of obesity levels (World Obesity levels are around 13% ) and a rise in the very preventable Type 2 diabetes which can often be managed with healthy eating and regular physical activity. Surely, we have gone past the point of questioning the benefits and rewards of a plant-based diet, this lifestyle diet is the least of our problems so why do we still focus largely on the negatives?
We are told a plant-based diet should include:
- Omega 3’s
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Yes, I agree with all the above but shouldn’t every diet and everyone be mindful about their intake of the nutrients? A plant-based vegan still includes all the required macro and micronutrients required by a human to be a healthy individual as yes that even includes protein.
Cut out the middle man (or cow)
Have you ever wondered where a cow gets their protein from if all they eat is grass? Something to think about.
For a plant-based athlete it seems we need to be ON IT and I mean ON IT to ensure we don’t become malnourished, under fuel or eat the way a so called influencer does when prompting this ‘fad diet’ trend.
If you are consciously aware of your health, wellbeing and longevity, whatever diet you follow you will be extremely aware of the importance of eating a nutritionally sound diet that is rich in plant-based fare such as fresh fruit and vegetables and whole foods; foods grown, manufactured, and packaged to be on sold with integrity.
As a plant-based vegan endurance athlete, now that’s a mouthful I am very aware of the foods I eat not only for performance but for health too. Too many foods being produced and sold are not energy or health giving and unfortunately its these foods that are becoming a staple in our diets for convenience.
A plant-based vegan diet at times is not convenient well not compared to how food is prepared and presented these days so are we questioning the wrong diet?