What do these individuals have in common?
They all live on a Plant-based Diet.
Think you need a lot of meat and protein to be strong and fit? Think again
Welterweight champion Timothy Bradley is far from the only athlete who thrives on a mostly plant-based diet. Tennis star Venus Williams, NFL player Tony Gonzalez and Pro baseball player Prince Fielder and many, many other athletes eat little or no animal foods.
“The energy is always there. I feel so alive. My senses and reflexes are so acute. It’s an incredible feeling.”
These athletes were able to reach the pinnacle of their profession with very little animal foods, and some claim that the plant-based diet was a major part of why they reached the top! But excelling in their sport is not the only reason these athletes chose a diet that’s drastically different than most Americans: some made the choice for animal welfare concerns, and many others for health reasons.
There’s a lot of evidence that eating a plant-based diet is a healthy choice. Plant-based diets contribute toward increased longevity and eating less red meat reduces the risk of many diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Americans eat a lot of meat. In fact, we eat more meat than people in almost every other country. We eat an average of 279 pounds of meat per year or roughly ¾ of a pound per day. That’s more than double what the American Heart Association recommends. And 147 pounds of this is red meat, which is more than three times the amount recommended by the American Institute for Cancer Research!
The idea of completely giving up meat and “becoming” a vegetarian may not be an option some would consider. There are, however, significant health benefits you can achieve by simply reducing meat intake.
What, less meat?!
It tastes soooo good!
Am I supposed to eat just vegetables?
It’s too hard to eat this way on the job!
These are valid concerns when considering a plant-based diet. But there are solutions.
Do this to improve your health, lose weight and reduce your meat consumption.
Enjoy the “meaty” flavor (called umami) without meat! The substances that give meat and cheese their distinctive savory flavor exist in the plant world, and you’ve probably enjoyed many of these already. Some top plant foods for umami flavor are:
- Portobello or shiitake mushrooms
- Tomatoes, especially roasted
- Soy products like soy sauce, tamari sauce, tofu
- Sweet potatoes
- Green tea
For plant-based recipe ideas with lots of flavor, check out the following links:
Be a “flexitarian”: eat some meat but reduce amount or frequency. Some ways to do this:
- Reduce the meat portion at meals: Fill 2/3 of the plate with vegetables, whole grains and fruit, and no more than 1/3 of the plate with meat/animal products.
- Make meat the flavoring or side dish: start with vegetarian recipes and add small amounts of meat/poultry to the dish. One of my favorites is Quick Edamame and Orange Rice
- Skip meat all together one or two times a week (try Meatless Mondays)
- For recipe ideas that support this approach, check out markbittman.com.
I’m strong to the finish, ’cause I eats my spinach!