“But where do you get your protein from?”
If you’re an out-and-out vegan, you’ve likely been the unimpressed recipient of this question at least once. And if you’re considering cutting down on animal products, maybe you’ve even asked it yourself.
And that’s not surprising. It’s so (chicken)drum(stick)ed into us that meat = protein and protein = strength, it’s easy for our brains to conjure an image of ourselves as wan and weedy when we think about quitting animal products. (Yes, quitting. Research shows both meat and dairy activate opioid receptors and are indeed addictive.)
But what does the evidence say? Clearly humans can survive on a plant-based diet, but can they thrive? Well, science has been pretty slow to check this one out for us. The only meat we like to get stuck into is a juicy research paper, and those are relatively thin on the ground around veganism and high-level fitness. So let’s turn instead to the living, thriving, strong success stories.
2018 has seen the preview of James Cameron’s documentary, The Game Changers, to critical acclaim. The film follows James Wilks (elite special forces trainer/winner of The Ultimate Fighter) on his mission to determine whether meat really is necessary in attaining peak fitness. Spoiler: it isn’t. These guys are here to prove it:
Patrik Baboumian, vegan world record-holding Strongman, can lift 150.2kg of beer keg overhead. His personal bests are: Bench 210kg, Squat 360kg, Deadlift 360kg. Phew.
Jehina Malik, vegan champion bodybuilder, has been vegan since birth!
The Swellest (see what we did there?)
Tia Blanco, vegan pro surfer, says since she switched to a vegan diet she never feels sore after workouts.
Carl Lewis, vegan Olympic sprinter, holds 9 Olympic golds and 1 silver and was voted Olympic Athlete of the Century.
The Most Ripped
Fiona Oakes, vegan elite marathon runner, has been vegan since she was 6. She holds 3 World Marathon titles and has a personal best of 2 hours 38 minutes.
And these are but a few of the many elite, superhuman athletes out there killing it on a kill-free diet. Many of them say they are stronger, more focussed, lighter, leaner and more successful than before they were vegan. So where do they get their power from? In short, plants.
Here are some of the protein-packed plant sources you can incorporate in a vegan athlete diet.
Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans contain up to 50 grams of protein per cup. They’re also high in fibre and contain phytonutrients such as anti-inflammatory quercitin.
Spirulina is up 70% protein, contains 22 amino acids and a range of other nutrients besides.
Chia seeds are a complete protein (containing all the amino acids essential to a human diet) and are packed with calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
Organic soy milk contains 8 grams protein per glass
Quinoa is another complete protein and boasts 28 grams per cup. It’s a good potassium source and is also high in fibre.
Tofu contains up to 40 grams of protein per cup.
And again, these are just a few! With evidence suggesting meat-heavy diets might be detrimental to health and so many energy sources available in the plant world, giving vegan food a go is a no-brainer. It seems it was for the world-class athletes listed above, anyway.
For easy, healthful, power-packed and delicious vegan options, check out our range.