This article will provide a vegetarian health and fitness meal plan.
When following a vegetarian or vegan meal plan the following points should be considered:
- not exacerbating any existing health condition (e.g. Anaemia)
- avoid cutting out food groups and not replacing them with enough quality fresh food.
- balance macro nutrients to reach your goals (protein, carbohydrates and fat)
- consider digestive issues if you cannot tolerate foods i.e. processed foods like vegetarian meat alternatives or beans/pules/ legumes.
- allocating adequate time to food preparation.
- sticking to it for the long term and implementing gradual changes over time e.g. go from part vegetarian to full vegan over time to adjust habits.
- ask yourself why you are doing this, are are you being authentic to your beliefs?
Every article you read will tell you about challenges related to the protein content of plant based foods. This article is not going to cover this, as I believe that if you are very diligent, you CAN meet your protein requirements.
However the truth is, I see most people start a new vegan or vegetarian regime with gusto and then cannot stick to it, or they create so many “food rules” they end up starving their body of important nutrients.
I have written a healthy detox program which is a raw vegan nutrition program combined with yoga for ultimate wellness.
I have also written lacto-ovo vegetarian programs and pescatarian programs for clients. Some clients loved it, other clients switched back to eating animal products. In the end, it was good life experience for all of them, as they gave it a good go for a time period and then were able to integrate in the recipes afterwards, regardless of if they wished to continue to exclude animal products completely.
My best friend has been vegetarian for 12 years and vegan for the following 5 years, so I am well versed on the reasons WHY she wishes to live this lifestyle and she looks AMAZING. She is extremely active and over the years has achieved a lot of athletic pursuits in cycling and also has kept up with a heavy weight training regime when we train together.
So in this article I will use examples of my friend who has now become Vegan successfully and lives this lifestyle lean, fit and healthy. I also refer to Vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke who is very successful in the USA.
We will look at an example meal plan (see below) and get some great tips for living this lifestyle.
“Cheese on Toast” Vegetarians
This is designed to be funny, so please don’t take it too seriously!!
A have met quite a few of what are commonly labelled “cheese on toast” vegetarians and they can be characterised as:
- Being vegetarian but not actually eating many vegetables!
- Reliance on highly processed foods like pre-pack protein shakes, protein bars (i.e. not homemade and full of chemical ingredients).
- May incorporate highly processed dairy foods.
- Eat very low nutrient levels.
These “cheese on toast vegetarians” are typically of a body composition that is “skinny fat” where they don’t have much muscle and they carry a higher % body fat.
In contrast my friend, we will call her the “Model Vegan” eats:
- A huge amount of vegetables (organic where possible).
- A large amount of fresh fruit in season (organic where possible).
- A small amount of processed vegetarian products such as tofu, tempeh, legumes, beans, and the products I call “fake meat” that you can get from the frozen section of supermarkets (e.g. Linda McCartney range of products).
- Good quality grains such as quinoa, brown rice and wholemeal or sour dough breads.
- A moderate amount of quality fats including olive oil, nuts, seeds.
This Model Vegetarian spends a lot of time on food prep each week and drinks a lot of water, herbal tea and minimal coffee. Her meal sizes are large and every meal has a large component of vegetables.
Successful Vegetarian Fitness
Vegetarians or vegans need to be even more organised and diligent with food prep than their animal eating counterparts.
For example, take away lunch bars generally do not provide salads and options that include dark leafy greens and enough vegetables. Of course there are options such as a health food shop that sells salads but quality salads can be expensive and you would probably need to buy two serves!
Not eating enough nutrient dense foods often leads to cravings. For example some people are just so hungry they cannot get through the day so they eat lots of “Raw desserts” or “Raw chocolate” or “Health bars” which are calorie dense. I love these sweets and have posted many recipes on my blog, although delicious……… as an athlete you need to eat them sparingly to reach your body fat goals for competitions.
By all means go ahead and try Vegetarianism or Veganism. If you do it properly (and eat minimal processed foods which come from a factory) you will be helping the world in many ways.
MY Choice: I Eat kilos of Vegetables daily, but I am not Vegetarian
I eat 2.5 kilos of vegetables DAILY (at least 6 types), at least two types of fruit and I also eat some vegetarian meals each week.
As a Fitness Model Champion, year after year, I have many tough workouts in the gym and endured DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that almost made me cry, trying to get through the days after tough training sessions, week after week, when I was trying to build certain muscle groups. To build a muscle foundation you need consistent weight training and nutrition. Working out TO YOUR MAX – and not fueling the body adequately will get you nowhere fast – the nutrition and training need to work together.
I follow the principles of LOW FODMAPS which is a scientifically proven dietary regime founded by Dr Sue Shepherd.
My stomach cannot digest or absorb certain foods including beans, pulses, legumes and I have an extremely sensitive digestive system. So, I cannot be vegetarian, as there are not enough options. I feel best when I eat (ethically sourced) meat, fish and poultry.
- I choose veggies at each of my 5 meals a day, moderate animal protein sources and endeavor to make most meals from scratch.
- I shop mostly organic or low spray.
- I shop with awareness: choosing ethically sourced animal products, local and seasonal produce.
Don’t expect to be Superman or Superwoman
When you seek to change to a new dietary regime don’t be fooled into thinking that you will miraculously turn into a person with “Superpowers” and ridiculously high energy levels. I feel great most of the time and I would say high energy is “normal” for me because I eat, sleep and train well, plus drinks lots of water. But I do still have days when I am tired or days when I feel sick. My Vegan friend agrees!
Some web sites or books will have you believe that if you are “strictly” following their suggested regime, you will miraculously be feeling like jumping out of bed every single day of the year. Let’s get real and have realistic expectations – we all have low energy levels in time of hard work, stress or we simply are not 100% on our game with our meal prep. No one is perfect – so don’t aim for that or try to put up a mirage to others that you are!! Perfection is boring and completely unrealistic.
I have met some pretty amazing people during my fitness career including Yoga guru’s, world class fitness instructors, Raw Goddesses and Wellness guru’s. The one’s who kept it real – grabbed and retained my attention – of course it is nice to think that as soon as we become 100% vegan, or 100% hunter-gatherer (for example) our life will become perfect – BUT this will never happen!
Be Yourself, Never Define Yourself by a Dietary Label
Find what works for you, but make sure you truly believe in the reasons you are using a dietary regime. And, most importantly don’t shove it down other people’s throats, and respect whatever choice they make on how to live their own life.
Simply live by your actions.
I have seen too many people tell the world they are vegan and then two months later they have gone off on a completely different dietary regime and then boast about being a meat eater/hunter gatherer (or whatever!).
I truly respect my best friend as she goes about her own business, living Vegan, year after year, and making daily choices that she believes in and are authentic to her.
- Be yourself.
- Be authentic to your beliefs.
- FOREVER is a long time to pretend to be someone else or eat in a way that you find hard to stick to.
- Don’t think you have to stick to ONE dietary regime – you can combine the best of several regimes and feel amazing.
- Your dietary choices do not define you – there is so much more to make a great personality than what you eat.
- ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!!
Scroll down for Example Meal Plan
Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness by Robert Cheeke
Australian Institute of Sport
Soy-Free Vegan Bodybuilding Nutrition Programs
by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder
Mostly Raw Food Bodybuilding Nutrition Program
Bowl of mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
2 bananas with raw coconut oil
16oz fresh squeezed juice
Bowl of mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts)
2-4 servings of dates
16oz fruit smoothie with Vegan meal replacement powder
Bean/Broccoli salad (Kidney beans, garbanzo beans, broccoli, spinach, snow peas, green beans, carrots, green peppers, romaine lettuce, beets).
16oz fruit smoothie with Vegan meal replacement powder
Spinach, kale, and cabbage leaves with broccoli, avocado, pine nuts, and sliced tomatoes.
Snow peas and green beans
2 large peaches or nectarines
Large vegetable platter with hummus and raw flax crackers
Green salad with sprouts, greens, nuts and seeds
Live pizza or raw soup
16oz fruit smoothie with Vegan protein powder
2 servings of mixed seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds)
2 servings of seaweed chips or dulse
I hope you enjoyed this blog and it gave you some insight into a Vegan and Vegetarian Fitness Meal Plan.
Love and Light
Amelia x o