I think we all know that nutrients are important for our bodies, right? We need to eat them if we want to get big, strong and healthy. Growing up I remember the struggle of sitting at the table and there being a large helping of brussel sprouts. Now as a kid, first of all eww a vegetable is on my plate, and on a whole different level of ew, it’s a cluster of brussel sprouts! As a kid this is worse then the dreaded tree vegetable, broccoli.
I would pick around the plate and slowly make my way to those bitter little green balls. Then, of course, to break the silence “Make sure you eat ALL your vegetables.” There it was, the confirmation I needed that yes, I did in fact have to eat those and no pushing them around is not fooling anyone. It’s funny how when we were children we got praised when we ate our vegetables. Parents push them as if they are the medicine, and we need them to keep healthy and survive the world as an adult. Fast forward about 20 years and now I only eat vegetables. Ironically now I am missing all these nutrients and my plant based diet is no longer healthy. Which is it people are these vegetables healthy or not? (Yes in case you are wondering 😉)
It seems like many people think that eating a vegetarian or vegan diet is lacking in the essential nutrients that all of our bodies require. How could those mighty vegetables, which got praised as holy medicine while I was a kid, not give us everything we need?
Lets take a good look at our fitness community and really the whole industry . These people are supposed to be the fittest around, I mean not many other sports can you be crowned Mr.Olympia. Now answer me this. How many bodybuilders have you met that religiously eat chicken and rice? They eat that multiple times a day or maybe they might throw a curve ball in and eat steak and potatoes. Now the question is, can this be functional from a macro nutrient aspect? Yea it is, but from a full nutrient stand point, including micro nutrients, is it hitting everything we need?
Eating a plant based diet has been linked with having deficiencies in zinc, vitamin B12, and iron. Now this is me googling deficiencies of vegans and those are the main ones which came up.This is mainly because plant based nutrients are absorbed differently then those sourced from meat.
While I was on my journey through the google machine, I noticed there seems to be no shortage of warnings about eating a plant based diet. But what you don’t seem to hear about, is the deficiencies of the average western diet. What?! you mean the same people saying a plant based diet is lacking nutrients, have deficiencies in their diet too?
So what about the average western diet? Well back to the Google machine I went to see what the common diet deficiencies in North America are. To really no surprise, there were deficiencies, but more of them than my search for a vegan diet. People are lacking calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E according to my search. Actually pretty important nutrients in that list, which makes you wonder is it worse then a vegan diet? With all the other health problems linked with the western diet, it’s up to you to decide.
It’s almost as if these things are said as scare tactics. After all, change can really scare people and make them uncomfortable. Think of doing years of school to be a lawyer and then deciding to change careers. What would the people around you say, the people who care most? It may be the best decision for your happiness, but most people like what’s comfortable. They may care for you and just want, what they think, is best for you. Do the research yourself and don’t let others persuade you otherwise.
So lets get real here. Every diet out there is probably lacking some nutrients you need. So knowing what you may be lacking in nutrients is key here. If anything, the people eating the plant based diets are more aware of what deficiencies they may encounter because of the hype. Eating the right foods can very easily make up for anything you may be missing. So don’t be fooled by the scare tactics, be aware of the foods you may need to eat a little more of to run optimally.
P.s. Now for getting those lacking nutrients while eating a plant based diet, here is what you should incorporate into your diet.
For Vitamin B12 – Nutrition Yeast is a great source
For Iron – Soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans which all have high protein too
For Zinc – Once again Nutritional yeast (love this stuff), wheat germ, oats, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes.
Happy lifting and keep building that cruelty free muscle! Leave me a comment or let me know what nutrients you try to add.