I have eaten an almost pure vegan diet for over 25 years. If I am at a dinner where the food is not vegan I will eat the veggies available and not make a big deal about it.
I am turning 56 soon. I weigh exactly what I weighed my freshman year of college. I can still chest press my own weight for 15 reps (I trashed my shoulders in college and don’t try to press more than my 10 rep max anymore), I can bike for hours (Average about 20+ mph, but don’t like being in the saddle for more than one hour, long story involving concrete pool deck and land in on my ass from about 12 feet up as a kid. I was pretty rough on my body until I was about 40.), I regularly swim for over an hour (open ocean hard swim), etc. My blood work is always excellent. I train a few college/college bound athletes every year and love to work out right along side of them as well as being the resistance to many of their resisted exercises.
Before I went vegan I never realized how much my food choices affected things like energy level and overall healthy feeling. I used to eat a lot of beef and fish (I do miss the fresh Ahi/tuna, but with all the news on fish contamination I would probably not be eating it a lot anyway). I started to notice a lot of my friends getting fat and slow. So I decided to make a change before it was too late. Now I don’t even like to smell meat cooking. I wouldn’t think of going back unless I was about to starve to death. Over the years I have learned how to make a lot of the types of food flavors that I used to eat, just without the dead carcass.
I have been a vegan for 8 years now after about 14 prior years as a vegetarian. At my last medical check up, my MD was a bit amazed at my lab results, as he expected to find nutritional deficiencies. Instead, he found the opposite! I eat no preservatives, additives, GMOs, lab-created meat alternatives. Avoiding the artificial ingredients is actually sometimes harder for me than the vegan thing! I don’t consume massive amounts of food, or I would either explode or be heavier than my 115 – 120# range. I did worry about the B12 & iron initially, but once you get into the groove of your healthy eating lifestyle, you know what foods have the nutrients you need. There are several vegan athletes that are able to make it work, as well as “ordinary” folks like me (personal trainer/yoga instructor/music therapist).
For anyone contemplating a vegan, semi-vegan, or vegetarian lifestyle, I do recommend education from either a registered dietician who has experience in this area or extensive research. I did both.
Being vegan may have an ethical component and this has to be respected. In saying this to be ethical a person’s health must also be considered.
Common in vegetarians and vegans is blood sugar dysregulation; too little protein, zinc, B12, B6, Fe.
More often than not vegetarians/ vegans tend to eat a ton of grains and a large majority are from processed high glycemic grains. The more processed the food the more it strips the body of essential nutrients putting it in a negative balance.
Protein requirements are difficult to meet and are higher in athletes. Low zinc levels may result in poor absorption of omega-3’s from flax because of the need in enzymatic conversion. There are no viable vegetarian sources of B12. Iron is usually a non-heme iron which the body loses much of in converting it to useable heme-iron and the plants themselves tend to bind to it, making it more difficult to use.
Soy based foods are convenient and tend to be a foundational protein source. Soy has phytoestrogens that mimic other estrogens in the body. A person with higher fat produces more estrogens in every fat cell. Now give them exogenous sources and it adds to the build-up and imbalance of estrogens in the body leading to insulin resistance and more body fat.