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.
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.’
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.
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 KidsHealth.org: Click [HERE]