The Problem with Going Vegan

In my last post I signed off by saying I got in trouble at the ski hill. And suggested that it may have been my new celebrity friends that saved me from having my ski pass revoked.

The people I’m talking about are the Crown Prince of Thailand and Canadian Olympian Jon Montgomery, who is also the host of the Amazing Race Canada. I’m calling them my friends because we stayed at the same hotel for a few days in St Moritz. Montgomery is there trying to qualify for the Olympics in Sochi next month while the prince was on vacation.

So we’re not really friends. But I did cross paths with both of got a few pictures which was kind of cool.

Piz Corvatsch 3451 m near St Moritz

Piz Corvatsch 3451 m near St Moritz

Besides the great skiing in Switzerland I was also fortunate to have someone looking out for me when giving me seat assignments as I always had an empty seat next to me which allowed for lots of reading and room to stretch out.

One thing I noticed on the flight from London was the number of people that ordered vegan or vegetarian meals. This was obvious because these meals are all delivered first before the meat options are passed out. I’m not sure if this is because vegans/vegetarians (v/v) are weaker and can’t last as long without some quinoa or kale, or if it’s because the airline can’t risk letting the v/v crowd see how good the meat options are because they wouldn’t have enough to go around.

So this got me to thinking…what are all the downsides with eating as a v/v? Let me spell it out for you.

Problem # 1 – Nutrient Deficiency

Let me be clear before all the arrows are launched my way on the interwebs. I’m not saying a v/v can’t get these nutrients. I’m saying v/v diets are typically limited or completely lacking in them. And unless particular attention is paid to seeking them out or supplementing there will be consequences. These nutrients include:

* Vit B 12

* Omega-3 fatty acids

* Vit A & D

* Iron

* Zinc

* Calcium

Problem #2 – Performance Deficits

If performance is your goal and you have deficiencies with vitamin B12 and iron you will have lower energy than your meat eating twin. Assuming you had a twin, and followed the same training program and had the same coaching you would be in a disadvantaged position if you were lacking these two nutrients. B12 deficiency can lead to anemia and iron is the protein associated with hemoglobin with carries oxygen. Neither condition is desirable for an athlete. Calcium is important for strong bones and zinc plays an important role in your immune function and aerobic capacity.

Problem #3 – Extra Work

A big foundation of our training methodology is the Minimal Essential Dose or MED. This means taking or doing the minimal amount of something to achieve the desired effect. Think of boiling water. Anything above 100 degrees C (at sea level) is a waste of time and energy. Following a v/v lifestyle can sometimes mean consuming additional nutrients with the goal of ensuring all your essential nutrients are obtained. If we consider this from a MED perspective eating meat makes more sense than a v/v approach.

Additionally it is extra work to follow a v/v lifestyle. It is harder to shop for v/v foods. There are fewer options when eating out. And travel can force the breadth of options to become quite limited.

Summary

While a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle can satisfy all our nutritional requirements there are risks related to performance decrements. As well, those considering a v/v diet should accept the fact if will be more work with the potential limits on performance.

Chris [fb-like]

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