Do as much research as you can even if it challenges your beliefs. Take the time to really think about your values. Only then can you truly make the best decisions for yourself, fellow humans, animals, and the planet.
“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” –The American Dietetic Association
Plant-based diets benefit aerobic performance and do not compromise strength/power performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis “The results indicate that plant-based diets have the potential to exclusively assist aerobic performance. On the other hand, these diets do not jeopardize strength/power performance. Overall, the predicted effects of plant-based diets on physical performance are impactless, even though the BMI of their adherents is reduced.”
Vegan and Omnivorous High Protein Diets Support Comparable Daily Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Rates and Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy in Young Adults Yet another study has shown that high-protein plant-based diets lead to the same muscle growth measures as high-protein omnivorous diets. The study found comparable increases with both diets for skeletal muscle fiber size, muscle volume, lean mass and strength in healthy young adults throughout ten weeks of high-volume resistance training.
PLANT-BASED DIETS AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE “It is commonly thought that protein intake may be inadequate in PB diets. As we and others have argued, the amounts and proportions of amino acids consumed by vegetarians and vegans are typically more than sufficient to meet and exceed individual daily requirements, provided a reasonable variety of foods are consumed and energy intake needs are being met. The terms complete and incomplete are misleading in relation to plant protein. Ingesting protein from a variety of plant foods, over a 24-hour period, supplies enough of all indispensable (essential) amino acids when energy requirements are being met.”
SWAP-MEAT Athlete (study with appetizing plant-food, meat eating alternatives trial) – investigating the impact of three different diets on recreational athletic performance: a randomized crossover trial
High-Protein Plant-Based Diet Versus a Protein-Matched Omnivorous Diet to Support Resistance Training Adaptations: A Comparison Between Habitual Vegans and Omnivores “Conclusion: A high-protein (~ 1.6 g kg-1 day-1), exclusively plant-based diet (plant-based whole foods + soy protein isolate supplementation) is not different than a protein-matched mixed diet (mixed whole foods + whey protein supplementation) in supporting muscle strength and mass accrual, suggesting that protein source does not affect resistance training-induced adaptations in untrained young men consuming adequate amounts of protein.”
Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.
Vegetarian or vegan diets and blood lipids: a meta-analysis of randomized trials Vegetarian and vegan diets were associated with reduced concentrations of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B-effects that were consistent across various study and participant characteristics. Plant-based diets have the potential to lessen the atherosclerotic burden from atherogenic lipoproteins and thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
(Just added this section. TONS of positive studies out there on plant-based eating.)
Daily Eating Examples & Guides
How to thrive as a plant-based athlete: Make sure you’re eating enough! Plant-based foods are often lower in calories. If you’re an athlete trying to maintain weight, reducing calorie intake would hurt your performance. When going plant-based you need to make sure you’re still consuming the same amount of calories. Aim for 1.6-2.2 grams of protein/kg/day. (1.2 may be enough, however, the studies cited for athletes all use 1.5-1.6) Monitor B12 and iron with regular blood tests and supplement as/if needed. Consider taking a DHA/EPA (algae-based) and a creatine supplement, making sure the supplements are good quality and not contaminated. These are things all athletes need to consider (vegan or not) and will help ensure you feel great on a plant-based diet. For more on this, see Essential Supplements for Plant-Based Athletes: A Comprehensive Guide with Simon Hill, Master of Science in Human Nutrition & Drew Harrisberg, exercise physiologist and sports scientist.
Three-day Meal Plan for Adult Male Vegan Team Sport Athlete (80 kg). (Scroll to page 8 for the meal plan.)
Where to find Plant-Based Doctors & Registered Dieticians
Find a doctor or dietitian near you: https://www.plantbaseddoctors.org
Barnard Medical Center: http://www.pcrm.org/barnard-medical-center/about
Registered Dietitians & Nutritionists:
A quick internet search of plant-based/vegan dieticians in your city is always a good place to start!
–The Science of Protein | Masterclass for Muscle Growth & Longevity Host: Simon Hill, Master of Science in Human Nutrition. Guests: “Dr Donald Layman is a leading researcher on protein, nutrition for athletic performance, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular health. Professor Phillips is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Skeletal Muscle Health in Aging, and a Professor in Kinesiology and Graduate Faculty in the School of Medicine at McMaster University. Dr Valter Longo is the Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences and Director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard David School of Gerontology, one of the leading centres for research on aging and age-related disease. Dr Mark Messina is the Director of Nutrition Science and Research for Soy Nutrition Institute Global, co-owner of Nutrition Matters, Inc., and an adjunct associate professor at Loma Linda University.
Essential Supplements for Plant-Based Athletes: A Comprehensive Guide with Simon Hill, Master of Science in Human Nutrition & Drew Harrisberg, exercise physiologist and sports scientist
–Thought for Food Lifestyle does a great podcast series called “What’s the Deal with…” They provide research-based information on food topics like carbs, protein, soy, etc. https://www.tfflifestyle.com
>Breaking the Dairy Addiction with Dr. Neal Barnard: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/neal-barnard-2/
>Heart Disease with Dr. Kim Williams: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/kim-williams/
>How Not to Die with Dr. Michael Greger: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/michael-greger-how-not-to-die/
>Prevent and Reverse Disease with Dr. Michael Klaper: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/rrp-77-dr-michael-klaper-plantpower-nutrition-health-disease/
>Prevent Disease and Thrive with Dr. Michelle McMacken: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/michelle-mcmacken-md/
Sandi’s note: My mom and stepdad both became plant-based a few years ago after my mom’s cancer diagnosis. Instead of finding a bunch of new recipes, they found vegan alternative ingredients for any recipe that required animal products. They’re both healthy and thriving. My mom has been cancer free for a few years now!
Plant-Based Sports Nutrition: Expert fueling strategies for training, recovery, and performance by Professor Enette Larson-Meyer PhD RD
The Proof is in The Plants by Simon Hill, Masters in Nutrition Science
The Plant-Based Athlete by Matt Frazier & Robert Cheeke
The Unsavory Truth: How food companies skew the science of what we eat by Marion Nestle, Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition.
How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD & Gene Stone
Building Bone Vitality by Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D.
How Not to Diet by Michael Greger, MD
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD
Books by Neal Barnard, MD include: Power Foods for the Brain, The Cheese Trap, and Foods that Cause You to Lose Weight
The Pleasure Trap by Douglas J. Lisle, Ph.D. and Alan Goldhamer, DC
Books by Dean Ornish, MD include The Spectrum, Eat More Weigh Less and Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease
Books by Joel Furhman include: Eat to Live, Super Immunity, and The End of Diabetes
The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn
-Forks over Knives
-What the Health
-From the Ground Up (About plant-based athletes)
-Plant Pure Nation
-Hungry for Change
Well Known Organizations that Recommend a Plant-Based Diet:
-The American Dietetic Association
-The American Diabetes Association: https://professional.diabetes.org/sites/professional.diabetes.org/files/media/dc_40_s1_final.pdf
-The dietary guidelines of Sweden, Brazil, Germany, Qatar, and the Netherlands, as well as the Nordic Nutrition: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5640e.pdf
-The American Institute of Cancer Research: http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/english.pdf (page 9)
-The proposed 2018 Canada Food Guidelines: https://www.foodguideconsultation.ca/guiding-principles-detailed
-American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists: https://www.aace.com/sites/all/files/diabetes-algorithm-executive-summary.pdf
-World Health Association
-Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
-British Dietetic Association
-Dietitians Association of Australia
-Harvard School of Public Health
-Dietitians of Canada
-The Permanente Journal
-The Mayo Clinic
-The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
-National Health Service (UK)
-New York Presbyterian Hospital
-Italian Society of Human Nutrition
-US Department of Agriculture
-Canadian Pediatric Society
-British Diabetic Association
-John Hopkins School of Public Health
-American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
-Food and Agriculture Association of the UN
-Cancer Society of Canada
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou
Be brave and ask yourself the hard questions.
Why are CAFOs bad? (CAFO stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation and they’re where much of US meat comes from.)
-Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy, Ph.D. (book)
-Farm Sanctuary & Gene Baur:
>Live More in Alignment with Your Values: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/genebaur/
>Living the Farm Sanctuary Life (books)
-Mercy for Animals & Nathan Runkle:
>The Power of Compassion to Make a Difference: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/nathan-runkle/
-Philosophy of Animal Ethics
>Puppies, Pigs, and People: http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/heathwood/pdf/norcross.pdf
>The facts: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/
-Failing to go the distance: what’s the beef with food miles? By Peter Newton (TEDxBoulder): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfBzwBxl-zQ
-Livestock’s Long Shadow (UN report): http://www.fao.org/tempref/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/A0701E.pdf
-Why eating grass-fed beef isn’t going to solve climate change:
Why the Science Seems Confusing:
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” -Adolf Hitler
“Confusion in the scientific literature on these issues may easily be misused by the food industry to promote their interests.” -British Journal of Nutrition
– Another Example: “A review was performed of 206 recent studies on the health effects of milk, juice, and soda. Of the studies, 111 declared financial ties to the industry receiving part or all of the funding for the study from the manufacturer of the beverage in question. (Keep in mind these are only the known ties. Many other financial arrangements can be hidden.) The 111 industry studies showed zero unfavorable findings…. The 95 unbiased articles, on the other hand, found evidence of harm 37 percent of the time. This is a very significant difference, demonstrating clearly that science can be bought.” -page 122 of Proteinaholic
-Another Example of a Misleading Study: An example of a poorly designed and performed study is the A to Z study. If you find the abstract, you’ll think that the Atkins diet was better than those it was compared to such as the Ornish Diet. However, if you take a closer look you’ll see that the Ornish Diet was never followed. Additionally, why the Atkins group initially lost a lot of weight due to water loss, the people in that group gained most of their weight back by the end of the year.
If eating plant-based is so healthy, why don’t all dietitians recommend it?
“…The animal agribusiness and their executives, actively sustain the myths of eating meat by influencing the institutions and professionals that in turn impact policy and opinion. Consider, for instance, the partnership between the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and the National Dairy Council. The ADA is the nation’s leading organization of nutritionists, and it also the governing body that oversees the accreditation of universities that offer degrees in dietetics; all dietitians are required to have graduated from an ADA-accredited institution. The National Dairy Council is one of the ADA’s leading “corporate sponsors.” According to the ADA, their Corporate Sponsorship Programs helps corporations have “access to key influencers, thought leaders and decision-makers in the food and nutrition marketplace. And the ADA says, the sponsor “can leverage benefits to achieve marketing objectives… gain access to decisions… and build brand relevance with (the ADAs) highly desirable target audience.” In other words, institutional power holders such as the National Dairy Council “sponsor” professional institutions like the ADA- which may help to explain, for instance, the official recommended daily allowance of three cups of milk, despite evidence linking dairy consumption with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, various cancers, and diabetes.” -Melanie Joh, Ph.D Pages 99-100 of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows.
Unfortunately, things like this are more common than they should be due to the fact that the dairy and meat industries are worth billions.
Websites with TONS of Helpful Information:
People can find evidence for whatever he/she wants to believe, but it’s more important than ever that we hold ourselves to the highest standards possible. That means digging deeper. It means looking at the research that opposes your viewpoints. It means asking challenging questions. It’s not being a seeker of comfort, but a seeker of truth.
Nutrition Facts: https://nutritionfacts.org -This website is fantastic! There’s a video with cited research on just about any nutrition topic you can think of. If you’re new to the site and a vegan diet here are some suggested searches: -B12 -Athletes -Paleo -Protein -Eggs -Nutrient Density -Cancer
The Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine: http://www.pcrm.org
Center for Nutritional Studies: http://nutritionstudies.org *
Plant-Based Dietician: http://plantbaseddietitian.com
Plant-Based Research: http://www.plantbasedresearch.org
Forks Over Knives: https://www.forksoverknives.com *
–Beginners Guide to Starting a Plant-Based Diet: https://www.forksoverknives.com/plant-based-primer-beginners-guide-starting-plant-based-diet/#gs.xZ1IhWo
Engine 2 Diet: http://engine2diet.com *
Plant-Based on a Budget: http://plantbasedonabudget.com
*These websites also contain many good recipes.
After doing the Sage Running podcast on Plant-Based eating, we had a lot of people tell us they didn’t know the importance of B12 and/or had been misinformed on where it came from. Here are the important facts on B12 that people should know:
-B12 is produced by bacteria that can be found in soil and natural water sources. The bacteria can be grown in the intestines of humans and animals, but it’s too far down the intestinal tract to be absorbed by either. Humans used to get enough B12 by drinking out of streams or having a little soil on their veggies, but that can no longer happen in our “sanitized” world.
-1 out of 6 animal eaters have found to be B12 deficient and ALL adults over the age of 50 are recommended to take a B12 supplement.
-B12 is important for brain health and assists in the formation of healthy blood cells.
-A B12 deficiency can often lead to an iron deficiency so if you have iron deficiency anemia it might be worth getting your B12 levels tested.
-The USDA actually recommends a supplement over animals because synthetic B12 is actually better absorbed by humans.
-Experts recommend taking in 2500 mcg per week (this is micrograms NOT milligrams). (Technically only need 4-7 micrograms but need to take more based on how our bodies absorb it.)
-There are vegan foods fortified with B12, but if you go that route you need to be good at keeping track of how much B12 you’re taking in.
-B12 is the ONLY nutrient that’s essential to human health that can not be gotten from plants or sunlight.