Muscular and Meatless: Staying Fit on a Plant-Based Diet
Written by Sadi Mosko
It is often assumed that athletic individuals must eat meat. However, many athletes today are proving this theory incorrect and opting for plant-based diets.
Many of these athletes who have opted for a reduced meat diet have still managed to achieve success. Olympians like skier Bode Miller, snowboarder Hannah Teter, and cyclist Lizzie Armitstead all won medals while being vegetarian. Mike Tyson has followed a plant-based diet for about a decade, a decision that helped him stop using drugs and reconnect with his family. Tennis star Venus Williams went meatless after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Sjögrens Syndrome. Williams claims that beginning with small reductions improved her health and allowed her to continue playing tennis.
Even the NFL, an organization known for bulky muscles and lots of protein, has plant-based athletes. Ricky Williams, a former running back for the Miami Dolphins, and Tony Gonzalez, a former tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and later the Atlanta Falcons, began plant-based diets during their careers. Although difficult, both considered the action worthwhile for the benefits it brought to their health and athletic performance. As Gonzalez asserts, “My body takes a pounding... Why wouldn't I want to be putting healing stuff in [it]?”
Reducetarian athletes are not a new phenomenon. Williams was preceded by tennis legend, social activist, and vegetarian Billie Jean King. Other athletes who went meatless early include Olympic runner Carl Lewis and baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.
Meat is a source of protein, but it is not the only source of protein. Meatless foods like grains, nuts, and soy can be packed with the nutrients needed to support an active body. The transition to a plant-based diet may take some time and planning, but it is possible to stay in shape without sacrificing your health, your values, or the planet.
For tips on maintaining a high-protein reducetarian diet, check out Brian Kateman's article on mindbodygreen: "Exactly How To Get All The Protein You Need On A Plant-Based Diet"