Vegetarian/Vegan Questions Answered (or at least some of them)

Yesterday I was on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,  and Paper.Li (what?  I work for a social media company and that is my job!) when I came across a link that stopped me dead in my tracks.  It was posted by VeganG26_2 and the Tweet said:  PLEASE READ THIS.  There was a link to a Washington Post article that was great in answering questions about being a vegan.  I am not a vegan, but I am a vegetarian and not just that.  I am a vegetarian endurance athlete.

Do you know what that means?  That means that I am elite.  Elite in that I am one of a very small percentage to have run a marathon or completed a half-ironman.  I am elite in that I am a vegetarian, because as the article points out only 3.2 percent of Americans are vegetarian.  That is elite company.

And while I am not here to tell you to put down the steak, I am going to try to work along with this article and answer for myself the 5 myths about vegetarianism for me.  The article is 5 myths about being a Vegan but since I am not I cannot answer those myths.

Myth 1: Vegans have trouble getting enough protein.

If you read this blog consistently you will know that I create a menu every Thursday that is 5 meals and they are all vegetarian.  I include all the nutritional information in my menus and I target 10% – 15% protein.  This percentage is ideal for endurance athletes.  When looking through the following meals you will see how nutritious and also delicious these meals are.

Athlete’s Plate April 14th

Athlete’s Plate April 7th

Tempeh Kabobs and Sweet Potato Hash

Don’t have time to look through the links above, then know that beans are full of protein.  Seitan, Tempeh and Tofu are full of protein.  Vegetables have protein and are also high in fiber so you get that ‘I’m full feeling.’

Myth 2: Vegans have countless rules about what can be eaten.

For Vegans there is really only 1 rule and that is to not consume or use animal products or byproducts in their kitchens or closets.  Seems rather simple, but I believe the issue lies in the various forms of vegetarianism.  For example, if you eat seafood but not meat then you are a pescetarian.  If you drink milk from a cow or eat eggs then you are a locto-ovo vegetarian.  My thought is that this is where the idea that there are so many rules about what can and cannot be eaten come into play.  I have even read the term flexatarian.  This is a person who eats a vegetarian diet, but on occasion (1x per month or so) eats meat.

For me, I don’t drink milk from a cow and 95% of the time make a flax egg for my cooking or use an egg substitute product.  I say 95% of the time because there are times that I have used whole eggs for cooking since a flax egg doesn’t always play well.  I’m still learning about being a vegetarian and maybe there is a substitute that I don’t know about but would love to find it.  Then again what does it matter if I use cage-free eggs from a small farm in Texas (which I do.)  Does that make me less of a vegetarian?  In some eyes it probably does, but the point is to do the least harm and by doing it my way I am doing the least harm.

Myth 3: Veganism is emasculating — real men eat meat.

To me this is the most laughable.  I mean really.  There are men out there that eat meat but have never finished a half-ironman in under 6 hours.  Or run a marathon in 3 hours 39 minutes.  Does that make me more of a man because I did it on a plant-based diet?  I don’t think so.  I think what makes me more of a man than somebody else is that I take care of my responsibilities.  I take care of my wife and step-son.  Whether I eat meat or not does not define me.

If having a brontosaurus burger planted on my car like Fred Flinstone makes me a man, then I was and never will be a man and I’m ok with that.  I don’t want society to define who I am.  I am going to define who I am.  My definition today is that I am a vegetarian endurance athlete.  Tomorrow that definition might change but it certainly won’t be because society defined me.

Myth 4: Vegans care more about animals than humans.

As my past readers know, and new readers will find out, I did not become a vegetarian because I saw a movie on slaughterhouses or because I am a member of PETA.  I made the choice, along with my wife, because I wanted to test my body to see what would happen to it if I moved to a plant-based diet.  Would I feel stronger or faster?  Will I lose that nagging 2 lbs?  How will this affect my passion to be an endurance athlete.

Well, along the way my concern for humans grew.  I began noticing how people treated food.  They did not treat it as fuel.  They, actually, did not seem to treat it at all.  It was there and they ate it without regard to what it would do to them.

For example, as I am typing this post a woman walked into the coffee shop to order lunch.  She wanted whole wheat bread, turkey and lettuce but then asked for mayonaisse.  While the sandwich was being made she walked out and then back in with a cupcake.  While scarfing this cupcake down she makes the following statement:  There must be 1 lb of butter in this cupcake.  As she continued to eat it she then says to her friend, also inhaling one, that she could feel her butt getting bigger.

My thought was:  Then why are you eating it?  I understand a treat but this was not even being enjoyed.  I believe she took three bites and zero chews and the cupcake was gone.  How did she enjoy it?  I bet if I asked her in 15 minutes what it tasted like she could not answer me.

So my point is this:  I am no more or less concerned about animals as I am humans.  I believe that we want to do and be good and I would love to help everybody understand their choices and understand that eating healthy is not as difficult as it is made out to be.

Myth 5: It’s expensive and inconvenient to be a vegan.

I’m not sure how this started but it couldn’t be more inaccurate.  I spend less today at the grocery store than I did when I was eating meat.  My theory and feeling is that with the beans, vegetables, nuts etc I am more full because of the fiber and thus don’t purchase a lot of ingredients that end up in the garbage.

Also, if you go to a restaurant and want the pasta dish but it comes with chicken you can substitute vegetables.  No restaurant in the world is going to add in extra meat without charging you but ask for extra veggies and they can’t give you enough.

In addition to that, my wife and I now split meals more often than not because we will be full from a salad and the main meal so we are saving money there as well.


If you want to read the article click [HERE]

Vegan Food Guide from  Click [HERE]

What are your thoughts on Vegan/Vegetarianism?  Do you participate in Meatless Monday?  Did this help you in deciding to try to eat one meal a week as a vegan/vegetarian?

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  1. As you know, I’m already a vegetarian (almost vegan)! Thanks for sharing the article though! :)

  2. natasha says:

    Thank you for this post! I am vegetarian and have completed various endurance events up to an Ironman and the number one question I got when I was training for that was “How are you going to get enough protein?” I think I will print this out and everytime I get asked a question about it just hand a copy of this to them!
    natasha recently posted..Worlds Toughest 10k Race ReportMy Profile

  3. Jessica says:

    Great read! I keep thinking about committing to being veggie and haven’t done it. This gives me more food for thought :)

    Isn’t it wonderful working with social media?
    Jessica recently posted..I Love New ToysMy Profile

  4. Shannon says:

    I am a vegetarian and an athlete. I think there is A LOT of mis-perception on vegetarianism and protein. Many people I have talked to over the years feel that it is too hard (LOL) or that they won’t get enough protein. If you are conscious about what you put in your mouth (as everyone should be) than a meat free diet is quite simple. I am lucky to live in Southern California, so a lot of our restaurants have vegetarian options. One hint for those who are starting a vegetarian diet is to ask the wait staff about broths in soups. Many “vegetarian” soups contain chicken or beef broth.

    Great article! Thank you!

  5. katie says:

    ok, real men eat meat? that cracked me up, how ridiculous. also i now have a name for myself, flexatarian! i never eat red meat but occasionally eat chicken. hooray!
    katie recently posted..wordless wednesdayMy Profile

  6. Michelle says:

    I’ve been vegetarian for 7+ years now, and my diet has only become better as I have ventured into multi-sport. I think I can honestly say that I didn’t have great balance until I started racing more seriously. Now, I’m eating better than ever – lots of non-animal proteins, green leafy veggies and all sorts of international foods I probably wouldn’t have eaten before. I’ve also managed to drop 25 pounds in the past year due to the combo of my diet and my training. I’ve never felt better.

  7. Scott says:

    Interesting, learned alot and myth #3 would have been gold for TTT

  8. Jeannie says:

    Thankyou for your thoughts. I too read the article as I do have a tendency to emphasis vegetables and beans in my family’s meals but still incorporate meat because unsure how to fully do this with a family of 5 who all have various likes/dislikes, etc… I also definitely believe in food being fuel for the body but am guilty of overindulging and not truly enjoying what I am eating at times. I do notice my body functions better with less meat or high protein in meals. I get more bloated and my digestions gets very sluggish if I have too much protein, especially meat based, at one meal.

  9. MissZippy says:

    Myth #3 kills me! So funny, but I supposed there’s a strong contingent who thinks that way. Oy vey.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that I do eat meat, but I am choosy about its sources. It’s all such a personal choice and the best we can do is support one another, whether or not we agree with each other’s choices.

  10. Adam says:

    Loved the write up.. only thing I disagree with you on is inconvenience. It can be very frustrating when you are a Veg if you are in a hurry and just want to grab something fast (Like fast food) that is healthy/vegetarian. I have been put in tough spots several times where all places would serve was meat dishes. When I’m put in those situations, I just don’t eat until later. I’m not going to die if I don’t eat for a little while. There are little inconveniences like that when you you are out and about that you have to work around. I would really like to live in an area like California that really caters to Vegs.

  11. lindsay says:

    hah. yeah i hate the “men eat meat” reasoning. WTF?!? as for the convenience – that can apply for veg/vegan as well as healthy/organic. of course it’s easier to grab a pre-made granola bar as a snack than to rinse and chop up fresh veggies…. BUT at the same time, will it be more convenient to have numerous doctor appointments later in life? think people. (same with expense-argument – don’t want to spend a few extra bucks on more-natural food but totally ok to shell out co-pays at the doc)
    lindsay recently posted..divorceMy Profile

  12. Jeff Irvin says:

    We may have to bring #3 up for tomorrow’s TTT. Haven’t you been painting your nails or something? Maybe myth #3 really isn’t a myth (-:
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..Cowboy Up My Profile

  13. Kevin says:

    Very interesting post. Hard to argue that someone who does triathlons and marathons, but doesn’t eat mean is less of a man. It does however provide some great ammo for TTT :) haha

    Personally, I’m a meat eater. I don’t have anything against vegan-ism or vegetarian-ism, it just isn’t for me. I would like to think that my wife and I are very conscious consumers. Come summer time, we’ll do nearly all of our product shopping at the farmers market. We tried a CSA last year but unfortunately had horrible results. We just found out about a local dairy farm where you can buy a share of a cow and then you get “free” unpasteurized milk each week. It is illegal to sell unpasteurized milk, so that is why they do the share of the cow.

    I have a question about the whole dairy thing. Excuse my ignorance, this is totally just curiosity and not meaning to be offensive at all. What is the reasoning for not drinking milk from cows and eating eggs from chickens? I know that there are many problems with the agriculture industry and inhumane treatment of livestock, but aren’t there humane ways to obtain things like milk & eggs?
    Kevin recently posted..What You MissedMy Profile

  14. Michael says:

    Great post! Although I’m technically not vegetarian after my 30 days in March, I’ve only had meat twice and in very, very, small quantities. I am really enjoying my new “lifestyle”.
    Michael recently posted..Happy Birthday Jack and Boston Non-runner recap coming soon!My Profile

  15. Chuck says:

    Love meat but have no issues with vegetarians! Although, its funny to me that only 3.2% of the population are veg… seems like its more like 50% of food bloggers

  16. Christel says:

    Great post! Answers a lot of questions!

  17. I eat meat but with the dishes you make I could and would easily forgo meat and move to veggie if you were cooking all the time — what you mke always looks so yummy and delish. Plus, it must be working for ya :)
    MilesMusclesMom recently posted..Its OK-Go Ahead and LAUGH!My Profile

  18. Mandy says:

    I was a vegetarian for about 6 years. Then I started guiding rafts and at the time, there was no veggie option (and I was like 19 and living in a tent) and I got sick of PBJ and I started eating meat again because I was just hungry and didn’t have a way to cook food myself.

    But the thing is, it isn’t something I love, and even to this day I often make meatless meals – if it were 100% up to me (and I didn’t enjoy sharing meals with John..that is the kicker), I wouldn’t eat meat. So I make about 3-4 meatless meals a week, which is a compromise we both can live with.

    I feel better when I am veggie though. Just saying. John was gone for a week and I ate all vegetarian. It rocked.
    Mandy recently posted..Muttley Monday – Bailey CottontailMy Profile

  19. Marly says:

    Great post with excellent points. I particularly like the one about liking animals more than humans. I think it’s my love for fellow humans that inspires me to be vegan – because I know it’s healthy, better for the environment, and a more peaceful way to live. I do care about animals too and want to make decisions that cause the least harm. Anyway, thanks again for a great post!

    • Jason says:

      Marly – Thank you for stopping by. It is truly appreciated. I have your site bookmarked because of the conversion of meat sandwiches to vegan sandwiches. I loved that series. I have the vegan maple on my radar for lunch very very soon.

  20. Jill says:

    Thanks for the artricle! I’m not vegetarian, I do eat chicken only because I tend to get lazy and that’s a quick way (other than eggs :)) to get in some protein (and I like it) – but I do like to read this stuff. Just in case. :)

  21. Lisa @ Eat.Pray.Run. says:

    Wow, Jason! I’m just reading this post b/c I linked back to it from today’s post. I love what you said here. I was exposed to a vegetarian diet through a few of my best friends growing up, so it never seemed that “out there” to me. I did it myself for a few years in my 20’s, but with little knowledge of how to do it right. I thought I was pretty cool at the time though. Our family is not vegetarian but over the past few years we’ve added LOTS more fruits, veggies and grains to our meals and we do have meatless meals one to two times a week. You did a great job shedding light on these myths!

    • Jason says:

      Thank you for the compliment. It is truly appreciated. I hope to spread the word and have more people have a Meatless Monday and see the difference in how they feel.

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