I’m always up for a challenge, so when I was asked if I could be meat-free, dairy-free, and protein supplement-free whilst sticking to a similar macronutrient breakdown to my usual non-vegetarian diet, I figured it would be pretty easy one! Let me start by saying, it definitely wasn’t easy, and took a lot more thought, mathematical equations, and planning than I expected!
What is a Vegan diet?
A vegan diet is that which abstains from all animal-derived foods or products containing meat, fish, eggs, diary. Even bee-derived honey. This would mean a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, soy-based protein, nuts, and grains.
Before we go any further, I usually aim for around 100g-110g of protein with each main meal containing at least 20g worth. Since I am maintaining my current weight at 52kg, I aim to eat around 2,000kcals on average per day with 20-25g fibre. Was I able to hit these targets and meet my approximate macros through a plant-based diet? You’ll have to read on to find out!
I respect and understand reasons for individuals adopting a vegan diets, whether it be ethical or health related. However, those who lack the knowledge in obtaining enough vitamins, minerals, and the nine essential amino acids our bodies are unable to produce whilst adopting a vegan diet, could end up doing more harm than good. Iron, calcium, and vitamin B12 deficiencies are common issues that can lead to serious health implications if not taken care of.
Given this, I made it my mission to try and come up with a diet plan that ensured I met both health and macronutrient targets through healthy, wholefood sources.
The Meal Plan
Meal 1: Banana smoothie bowl
356kcals 18P 35C 16F
Snack 1: (Pre-workout): Pistachios and black coffee
66kcals 3P 0C 6F
Snack 2 (Post-Workout): Rye bread with home-made reduced fat peanut butter
141kcals 8P 25C 1F
Meal 2: Hummus, crudité, and puy lentil burger pattie
680kcals 27P 89C 24F
Meal 3: Stir fried tofu, mushroom, and sugarsnap peas with turmeric cauli-rice:
261kcals 26P 19C 9F
Snack 3: Vegan Hot Chocolate
33kcals 1P 5C 1F
Meal 4 (dessert): Chocolate Barlotti Bean Pudding
440kcals 20P 63C 3F
Total macros for the day:
1910kcals, 102g Protein, 236g Carbohydrates, 62g Fat, 74g Fibre
As you can see, I managed to reach my protein target and way over shoot my fibre target! I found that obtaining 20g worth of protein per meal without the help of supplementation and/or non-soy based products, without excess calories coming from fats and/or carbs, proved to be the biggest challenge. I could have incorporated more fats or carb-based proteins to make up the calorie intake, however the excessive amounts of digestive-friendly fibre in each meal made them extremely filling… For a short while anyway!
It seemed that with this plant-based diet, my food digested much quicker than my usual lower calorie non-vegan meals. Though I found myself feeling full, I felt more bloated and uncomfortable as opposed to satisfied and satiated! Not only this, the excess slow-digesting fibre made me feel extremely lethargic during my training.
Whilst I believe adopting a more plant-based diet can prove beneficial for those looking to improve their health or reduce calorie intake for weight loss, gaining adequate amounts of micronutrients, especially all essential amino acids without the help of non-vegan proteins or supplementation on a calorie restricted diet, proves extremely difficult. As well as this, those who require lower fat or lower carb diets to suit their health or training needs may also find it difficult to obtain a good macronutrient split to suit their needs.
That said, given the wide range of nutrient deficiencies one is at risk of developing, I personally would not recommend veganism especially to those on a calorie restricted diet, without ensuring the essential micronutrients are covered through supplementation.