- You’ll probably live longer on a plant-based diet with minimal animal consumption (or none at all). That’s pretty cool.
- Carnivorous diets (at least right now) seem to be better at helping us GAIN muscle. Many athletes switch to a plant-based diet in an effort to extend their careers (e.g. Tom Brady), but we don’t have enough data on “life-long plant-based athletes” to make any concrete judgements.
- Many plant-based bodybuilders and fitness models are also ingesting large amounts of both soy products and protein/amino acid supplements/shakes to get closer to “carnivorous” levels of protein each day. Are soy products and supplements better than a piece of grass-fed steak?
- And considering the growing base of vegan bodybuilders and fitness models … They. Are. All. Using. Drugs. Yes, even the “natural” ones.
- It’s just as easy to be nutrient-deficient in a vegan diet as it is in a carnivorous diet. You’re just typically deficient in different nutrients. While a carnivore might be deficient in Vitamin A, a vegan might be deficient in Vitamin B12.
- Vegan diets are necessarily much higher in carbohydrates – this works super well for endurance athletes. On the other hand, endurance athletes do best with a protein intake bordering that of strength athletes because of all the energy they’re expending through training. They’re more likely to use amino acids for energy, so they need to replenish those amino acids through their diet. Do with that information what you will.
Going back to the protein thing (because I’m going to get verbally assaulted if I don’t address this), carnivores probably don’t need nearly as much protein as they think they do (or are currently getting). If you’re eating more than 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, you’re probably eating more than you need to.
On the other hand, most novice plant-based dieters aren’t getting as much as they probably should. If you’re a 150-200 lb person eating 50 grams of protein each day, you’re probably leaving performance on the table, quite literally.
And let’s be clear: there’s a big difference between the protein needs of a competitive athlete and that of your retired grandmother. And the recommended dietary allowance is not synonymous with “optimal for high-level competition.”
But then again, unless high-level competition is in your immediate future, does it even matter?
As has been stated before, there really aren’t any “bad” foods, just bad habits. For instance, many vegans approve of regular alcohol intake. it is vegan, of course. But alcohol can poison you in one night. I’m not sure anybody ever fell victim to “sugar poisoning” after one bad night with Ben and Jerry.
Reverse your thinking
So instead of saying to yourself, “I’m going to switch to a vegan diet to obtain all of the benefits that a vegan diet can provide,” try reversing your thought process.
Ask yourself, “What health benefits does a vegan diet provide and how can I get there?”
Eat a diet of mostly plant-based foods, including colorful fruits & vegetables, grains, legumes, and healthy fats. De-stress regularly. Stay active. Maintain relationships. Check this page out.
Avoid gastrointestinal issues & food allergies
Stop eating foods that give you gastrointestinal issues. It will be different for everybody, so you’ll have to experiment a bit. Common food-foes include gluten, lactose, nuts, shellfish, and soy.
Try replacing some of the refined meats and middle-of-the-grocery-store-snack-type foods with colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Higher intake of vitamins and minerals
Possibly protective against certain cancers
Higher antioxidant intake
Protective against cardiovascular disease
Try being more active during the day and get a few more steps in while also seeing above.
Become a full-fledged vegan.
Cook your food.
Avoid E. coli forever
So what does this all mean?
There are almost endless benefits to plant-based dieting or full-blown veganism. But there’s absolutely no evidence that plant-only diets are best for longevity, performance, or weight loss. Just like diet pills, belly wraps, or that stupid Shake Weight thing, there is no such thing as the magic pill.
But the fitness industry knows that you are looking for it. It knows that you want there to be a quick-fix. You want the magic pill to exist, so that’s what the industry will sell you.
Don’t forget, the industry wants that too. It will refuse to accept that a quick-fix doesn’t exist because if it stops looking and then somebody else finds it, the industry will miss out on all the potential profit.
They know that if a vegan diet promises longevity, improved sport performance, silkier hair, better skin, restful sleep, six-pack abs, and more sex, you’ll buy it. I mean, who wouldn’t buy into a diet if it promised you that you couldn’t get cancer, have a heart attack, or be fat?
And that’s where the issue lies. There are so many benefits to plant-based dieting, veganism is a moral high-ground. And it’s much easier to sell books and speaking engagements when what you’re saying is absolutely, 100%, undeniably true: plants are really good for us, animals, and the environment.
Let’s clear the air, I’m not anti-vegan.
What I’m saying is plants are good. Plant-based diets are awesome. But they don’t necessarily have to mean plant-only. And there might be certain trade-offs that you should research and reconcile before committing to any dietary lifestyle.
Above all, our job here at Josh Mavilia Fitness is to help people improve their health step-by-step. That means guiding our members toward proven and universally agreed-upon principles:
- Drink lots of water
- Eat mostly plants
- Avoid refined foods
- Find your personal zone and de-stress on a daily basis
- Get some protein
- Make healthier carbohydrate & fat choices
So if you’re somebody looking for a new diet, first evaluate your goals. Like exercise types, cars, and beers, there is something different for everyone out there. And what works for one individual might not necessarily work for another when you consider current lifestyle, goals, and willingness to change. Find your diet, not somebody else’s.
And if you’re a provider, plant-based or otherwise, your job is this: stop pulling so hard in the vegan direction and you won’t push so many people away. It is our job to sell solutions to problems, not books. Eating mostly plants doesn’t work for anyone if people are turned off by your approach altogether.