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4 Essential Meals for Vegan Athletes

Any successful vegan athlete will tell you that it’s possible to fuel up your body without consuming animal products. There are a surprising number of vegans in professional sports. Finding sources of vegan athlete nutrition can be challenging at first, but there are more delicious, filling options than you may think. Here are just four examples:

Brawn-Building Breakfast Sandwich

A nutritious breakfast is a crucial element of any diet for vegan athletes. This one, containing just 108 calories from fat, packs 16 grams of protein and 51 grams of carbs.

Protein is essential for muscle, bone and tissue growth. Carbs provide an energy boost for starting the day and help you metabolize fat. The sandwich is also enriched with potassium, vitamin A and iron. Potassium, the chief nutrient in bananas, helps to prevent muscle weakness, cramps and fatigue.

Press the water from a 14-ounce block of tofu and cut it into six slices. Season them with salt, cracked pepper, garlic powder and turmeric. Saute them in coconut oil for five minutes until they’re light brown and crispy.

Make the sandwich on whole-grain toast with the tofu, vegan mayonnaise, vegan cheese slices, spinach or spring mix, sliced tomato and pickle slices. Add red pepper or sriracha for a little kick if you like.

Fruit should be an element of every meal for a vegan athlete. It enhances immune function, brainpower and cardiovascular health while preventing fatigue and facilitating workout recovery.

Enjoy the sandwich with a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice or half a grapefruit. Eat a fistful of berries, which are rich in antioxidants.

Miso and Tofu Vegetable Soup With Buddha Bowl

Miso, a paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt, has great value in a diet for vegan athletes. Along with 32 grams of protein, one cup of miso contains 15 grams of the fiber that helps you maintain muscle while still burning fat. It's also high in calcium, iron, vitamin B6 and magnesium, which metabolizes nutrients and turns them into energy.

Make the soup with miso, chopped tofu, leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, sliced mushrooms and low-sodium vegetable broth; miso is salty. Toss in some brown rice bifun noodles if you like. The comforting soup is packed with flavor.

Buddha bowls are highly versatile complements to any main dish. Put in whatever you want either raw or cooked, separately or mixed. Sample ingredients include cooked grain, carrots, celery, radishes, beets, snap peas, chickpeas, edamame, avocado, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts.

Raw veggies benefit from non-dairy tahini sauce or a chickpea-based dip. You may also assemble small bowls with fruit.

Buddha bowls are not only nutritious, but they prevent product waste. Clean out the fridge and eat well all at the same time.

Hearty Chickpea and Veggie Pasta

In a sensible diet for vegan athletes, chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are a staple ingredient. One cup contains 14.5 grams of protein and 12.5 grams of fiber. Chickpeas are also loaded with iron, manganese, copper and zinc. Manganese plays a key role in bone development and triggers the enzymes that metabolize cholesterol and carbs.

Sauteed chickpeas, onions, bell pepper and garlic make a great topping for whole-grain or spinach pasta. Season with cumin, paprika, basil, oregano or any of your favorite spices and fresh herbs. Cook some garlic and cherry tomatoes in olive oil and toss everything together.

A side of wilted chard or cooked collard greens will supply all the vitamins A and C that you need. If you remember your serving of fruit, this meal is as balanced as they come.

Beefed-Up Beefless Burrito

For vegan athlete nutrition, this complete meal in a tortilla packs quite a punch. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tastier source of healthy fats, omega-3s and vitamins. That’s in addition to 22 grams of protein and all the essential amino acids.

Cook some quinoa and mix it with a serving of black beans. Sea salt, pepper, lime juice and cilantro will add flavor. Throw in a tablespoon of hemp seeds for energy and endurance.

In a bowl, massage some kale with olive oil and lemon or lime juice. Dice some onion and tomato. Mash or slice a small avocado; it’s an excellent source of unsaturated fat that will help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Assemble the burrito in a gluten-free or sprouted-grain tortilla. A thinly spread dollop of red pepper hummus will add an extra dimension of flavor.

Have strawberries for dessert. The vitamin C they contain produces collagen, and your bones and muscles couldn’t hold together without that. The fiber in strawberries boosts energy between meals and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

With a little education and planning, you can succeed as a vegan athlete. Just ask Venus Williams.


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