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Any vegetarian racers out there?(39 posts)

Any vegetarian racers out there?Duane Gran
Jul 26, 2001 4:53 AM
I could use a little advice. For several reasons I'm interested in switching to a vegetarian diet, but I am concerned that I won't be able to get the protien I need to build and rebuild muscle tissue. I'm aware that the standard American diet has far too much protien, and I don't buy into the body builder's myth that overeating protien can help build muscles. I've actually read a bit about sports nutrition, but I've met very few vegetarian athletes. Here is a little background on what I do now nutrition-wise...

I often eat couscous or pasta for dinner with various vegetables mixed in. I cook tofu in with these dishes and/or drop an egg in with the food to get more protien. I realize some vegetarians don't eat eggs, but I think this is a reasonable compromise for me right now. I also have milk with my breakfast cereal and try to cook with beans and use peanut butter on bread as a snack, both of which are a source of protien.

Here are my questions:

* I tend to eat pretty large portions of my dishes, but does it look my current strategy would give me enough protien? I think I should strive for about 15% of calories from protien, but it is hard to know for sure if I am doing that.

* My big concern is getting "complete protiens" which contain all 22 amino acids. Can someone recommend some good non-meat sources of full protiens? Tofu has been very flexible, but is it really a good source?

* Over the last 6 weeks I have lost about 5 lbs with this new diet. My riding performance (particularly on hills) has not suffered, but I'm concerned that I'm losing muscle mass. Is this fear founded? I'm considering going back to eating lean chicken on a regular basis to see if the weight returns, but I don't want to bail on the vegetarian diet just yet.

I appreciate any feedback you can offer. I don't mind if you have political-type comments about the vegetarian choice, but please be considerate if you feel this is a debatable issue.
re: Any vegetarian racers out there?bikerbenpsu
Jul 26, 2001 5:23 AM
I'm not sure about your muscle mass questions, but I do have one recomendation. Distance riding gets really difficult if you don't have iron to take the Oxygen to your muscles. If you arn't eating meat, make sure you get dark greens and maybe take a supplement. Just an important thing (that I suffered through) that you should watch out for.
You probably need close to 100gms of protein a dayJ.S.
Jul 26, 2001 7:37 AM
Check this out.

I take a whey protein supplement after all hard rides, but whey is an animal product, oh well.
You must be very smart to be a vegetarian and an athletepeloton
Jul 26, 2001 8:13 AM
There are issues with a few essential amino acids that are not found in any plant source, vitamin B12, and issues with iron. A strictly vegan diet really doens't give you all of the things that a body particpating in athletics needs. It sounds though that you are consuming some foods that contain more complete proteins such as milk, maybe consider eggs or even better some fish to supplement your diet. Whole milk contains lots of high quality protein that you don't get from tofu or beans. You need to be very careful to cosume a wide variety of protein sources to get what your body needs. A vegetarian diet doesn't present issues in getting enough protein, but it's more of an issue of getting all the right kinds of protein. It is easy to not get all the nutrients your body needs when you cut out certain foods. Be careful with your iron intake as well. Energy will nosedive if you don't get enough iron. Eat lots of dark green, leafy vegtables such as spinach to increase iron in the diet. Be aware of this, do some research and eat smart. The easiest way to pull of a vegetarian diet is to not be a strict vegan, you need some things that you can't get from solely plant sources. The biggest problem that I see with a vegetarian diet is that most people who attempt it don't have the knowledge they need to pull the diet off successfully. It's a hard diet to do properly in it's strictest sense. Read as much as you can about nutrition, and be careful what you eat.
re: Any vegetarian racers out there?Omnivore
Jul 26, 2001 12:46 PM
I was vegetarian for about three years... I gave it up shortly after getting a cat. 1 upgrade, mostly because I didn't want to be selling myself short. It was a very hard decision. I think I recover better now.
Me too!Old Guy
Jul 26, 2001 1:54 PM
I upgraded shortly after getting a cat, too. I think I started getting more rest. No matter how mad my wife was at me, I knew that that little bundle of furry joy (Daisy) loved me, so I slept like a rock. My results improved and I was able to upgrade to a cat...

oh. hold on.

CAUTION!!!Woof the dog
Jul 26, 2001 6:18 PM
Disclaimer: Extreme U.S. vegetrn. bashing!!!

Why do you even want to be a vegetarian? Trying to be a "good human being"? Oh come on!!! you are kidding only yourself. Were you in a poorer country, people would laugh at you. Probably only in this country we have enough food that we can actually throw away. Dining places toss perfectly good food at the end of the day instead of giving it away, and guess what, you are not allowed to get any of it without paying. But its gonna be thrown away!!!! How can this be? Damn capitalism, its like a coin of sorts....a good side and an ugly one. Only in this country we pigfaces can say: "I get those 14 aminoacids from this product, while these supply additional 5, plus those make up all 22, blah blah blah, and oh my God, watch out for that extra milligram of cholesterol in that candy bar" while elsewhere in the world people look like skeletons. Its ironic, because I often watch what I eat too closely. I have a feeling that all these campaigns against meat are caused by fat yuppies dying from high cholesterol....that is probably why meat is labeled as something you should cut down on. I probably sound ignorant and plain offensive to your views, but so does your...uhm, irrationality to me. Eating meat seems to be a quite safe practice, as long as you need it, as long as you get good workouts as you should. Understand? If you have a belly, maybe you shouldn't eat meat, but if you do sports, have muscle to show off, then whats the reason to starve yourself and lose mass? And its not like they gonna stop butchering cows either.
An outstanding athlete like yourself needs good lean meat to be able to take stress, kind of a logical conclusion, don't you think? No one is making you buy the fattest meat available. I know one vegetarian who went back to eating meat because he felt he wasn't able to get enough protein from whatever you guys get it. Yeah, he does heavy and probably works himself into the ground every day. The point is, I hope you will be able to get over this and will realize that if you ride your bike and eat meat, its quite likely you'll live longer than those who diet. I am not saying to eat whatever. Be reasonable! Suddenly depriving yourself of what many believe is easily accessable and moreover great tasting!!!!! source of amino acids is just beyond me. You are creating a problem out of nothing. Its like having problems with shifting because someone invented derailure. Don't give up your meat, man.

P.S. this would spark things up a bit. He he. I'll try to read up a bit on all this veggie stuff as well, and maybe will re-evaluate my message (not likely).
Woof, the meat eating dog.
more to think aboutpeloton
Jul 26, 2001 7:17 PM
No extreme veggie bashing here, although I don't think that it is the best diet for an athlete. Here are a few things to comtemplate.

-Alison Dunlap, America's best mountain bike racer sites red meat as her diet secret in interviews on nutrition. She feels that the quality of the protein and iron found in red meat allow her to recover from hard training more effectively. I have heard people slam her for saying this, but it is her experience.

-About ten percent of the population of the world is some form of vegetarian. Less than two percent of Olympic athletes are vegetarian. Take this for what it is.

-Millions of years of evolution can't be wrong. People are omnivores, and we aren't going to re-invent the wheel in relation to the best way to fuel the human machine. We need nutrients that our bodies have come to need from a vareity of food sources over thousands of generations. Cutting out foods may take away things that the body needs. One couldn't expect to stay healthy on a carnivorous diet, why would the opposite be true?

-Be careful what you eat or don't eat. Too little or too much can be a bad thing. Sorry if this came across as offensive to vegetarians, that was not my intention. :) Take care of yourself
a little clarificationDuane Gran
Jul 27, 2001 4:28 AM
I'll try to keep this civil as possible, because I actually do appreciate the input. You might have started off by asking me why I'm considering the vegetarian route, but I think you made some assumptions. The cruelty factor is a very small part of it all. My energies are already constrained to be good and civil to other humans. I pet cats and dogs when I see them too. :)

My real motivation is for health reasons, believe it or not. It is downright scary to think of the things going on in the meat industry. Our FDA certainly helps keep things in order, but there are virtually no restrictions on what animals are fed and how they are medically treated. I don't have specific figures handy, but I've read about alarming amounts of antibiotics that are present in meat in order to keep livestock healthy. The problem is that one develops an "immunity" to antibiotics with too much exposure. That worries me.

There are a lot of other issues with eating meat. Years ago I eliminated red meat from my diet (with few exceptions) because of mad cow disease. Recently I've turned to organic foods and have noticed an improvement in my well being. My diet is already a significant part of my training.

I'm in a debate over this. It wouldn't freak me out or create mental issues to have chicken now and then, but if I could satisfy my protien needs without eating meat it sounds like a win-win situation. I'm just not sure if it is feasible.
a little clarificationWoof the dog
Jul 27, 2001 3:12 PM
you a right. I don't know how I can prove this to you, but I did mean to ask you why you chose this way before I typed all this stuff, but I forgot when I finished. You do sound quite reasonable to me, its true that we don't know what the hell the damn livestock is fed. But that is why there is FDA, say ain't so?

You mean people develop resistance to antibiotics, or livestock does? In either case, i think a lot of livestock deseases either don't affect humans or are eliminated in the process of cooking the meat. Give me some examples of antibiotics that are also used by humans. If somehow the pathogen becomes resistant to the antibiotic given to a cow or a person, that organism will get sick and die (d'uh), but I think it won't come to that at all. Kind of a weak argument though.

More power to you if you see the difference in your well being. Maybe another solution is to buy an old shed and breed chickens there. That way you can be sure you get everything organic.
see ya
Woof the dog.
some ideas (constructively)peloton
Jul 27, 2001 6:55 PM
Your concern about what get put into livestock that we consume may not be entirely unfounded. Certainly we have problems today due to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. People take too many antibiotics when they don't need them, and bacteria becomes resistant. Can antibiotics taken by a cow find their way into a human that consumes that cow at all, or in enough of a dose to create resistant bacteria? I don't think anyone knows the anwer to this right now. Can steroids or growth hormones from a cow have an effect on humans consuming the cow? Clenbuterol was used quite a bit in the livestock industry. Clenbuterol is a powerful anabolic that will also work extremely well on a human. Also pretty abused in sport as it passes from the urine within a week, but the effects can be felt for a month after discontinuation. Could an anabolic agent used on a cow have an effect on a human consuming the cow? Hum... They are concerns without definite answers at this point.

A vegetarian diet also has concerns though. Think of the pesticides that are sprayed on crops. These toxins can find their way into the products they are sprayed on. What can these toxins do to a human? Some fruit and vegetables imported from other countries still use chemicals that are banned in the US because of their toxic qualities. We ban the chemical, but we will still eat food it is sprayed on. What does that say about us? :( Think of genetically engineered foods. There is a type of tomato out there right now that has a gene taken from a Cod to prevent the tomato from suffering from frost. The gene taken from the Cod is the one that allows the Cod to live in frigid temperature. Other genetically engineered foods on the shelf in your local grocery store don't have to be marked. You almost certainly have genetically engineered foods in your home right now, almost cerainly some corn product in your home has been engineered. What could genetic engineering do for people with food allergies? What could be the long term effects of genetically engineered food? Health risks? Extinctions due to new conflicts with other species in nature? The worries go on.

There are so many things to worry about with any food source that we consume. The only way to be entirely safe would be to stop eating. Realistly, we aren't going to do that so I'll give you some ideas about a vegetarian diet instead.

You are going to need to learn a lot of things about diet and nutrition to pull off a vegetarian diet successfully. This is my main cynacism against vegetarianism. I don't think you should have to be a nutritionist to be eat healthy. The vegetarian diet can be healthy, but it's not the easiest way. Some things to watch out for are your consumption of essential amino acids to form complete proteins. Lysin and Methionine are ones to watch out for in this type of diet. Combine nuts, seeds and legumes in combination at one meal to get adequate lysin, and grains with nuts or seeds for methionine. Consider vitamin B12 supplementation. B12 is frequently low here. Watch out also for adequate riboflavin, calcium, and iron. Iron was low in 5% of males, and 27% of females on a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet in a recent study. It may be worse in females due to menstuation. The vegetarian who posted that they had high iron may have the iron loading gene more common in men. In those individuals it is wise to avoid too much red meat anyhow as the heme iron can contribute to high iron and heart problems. Vegans need to watch their intake of phytic acid from grains as it binds to zinc and can cause deficiencies. The list goes on further. Point is, be ready to learn to pull this off succesfully and don't think it is without risks like any other diet. If you don't want to spend the time to learn about the nutrition that goes with a vegetarian diet, you are better off staying away from it. Too many vegetarians don't know enough. If this doesn't bother
re: Any vegetarian racers out there?TomS
Jul 27, 2001 5:43 PM
Well, I don't race, but I've been lacto-ovo vegetarian for 8 years now (since college) and have been biking constantly in some form or another since I can remember. Anyway I was into mtn biking and some bmx for a long time, and as a pretty casual rider I've never had trouble keeping up with other people because of fitness - technique, that's another question :-) But I don't think any diet will help me there!

I just got my first road bike last year, and this summer I've been really riding more than ever, which for me is about 100-150 miles/week. I've noticed that it takes a couple of days to recover from a really hard ride, but from talking to friends who eat meat, it doesn't seem significantly longer for me than for them. So my body's probably still adjusting to it, since it's only been 3 or 4 months that I've really been pushing myself. I don't think it's holding me back though, I can keep up fine with the small group that I ride with, and actually I'm developing into a stronger climber than I ever thought I'd be.

I'd say give it a shot, but be careful what you eat. I drink soy milk as a snack a lot (chocolate!), and with cereal; eat eggs for breakfast on weekends; tofu sometimes - but a lot of veggie burgers/dogs. As far as "complete" proteins, rice&bean dishes will do that for you. Actually most legume/grain combos will. I don't know about iron, last time I had a blood test my iron was actually way high, my dr. told me to stop taking any supplements that contain iron and have it checked in a couple months. So I don't know what's up there.

Just don't use a veggie diet as an excuse to not eat balanced meals and you should be ok. Lots of info on the internet as well, including some studies of "primitive" cultures that don't eat meat, but probably get almost as much exercise as athletes in "advanced" cultures; I remember reading about a vegetarian indian tribe in south america that would do these all-day footraces occasionally, and pretty much every other day of their lives was spent doing physical labor, farming.
Jul 28, 2001 6:21 AM
Hey man, it is really a myth that one cannot survive and thrive without meat. I have been vegetarian for the past 2 years and I actually noticed some improvement in my endurance level. However, I do eat fish and eggs very occasionally, not. But one can actually live a healthier and active live being totally vegan. I turned vegetarian for many reasons the important of which were my health, the protection of environment (yes a meat eating societies contribute a great deal to increasing the methane level released into the environment) and for ethical reasons.

Now, it may sound like I'm making up all these stuff, but bear in mind that some really great athletes of our time like Carl Lewis (probably the best Olympian US ever produced), Dave Scott (the legend who won five consecutive Ironman Triathlons), Martina Navratillova (she certainly did not lack muscles :), Bill Pearl (One of the greats in bodybuilding circles, Mr. Universe) and I can go on and on.

As far as proteins go, we have so many options that meat eaters are totally ignorant about. From legumes we have; Adzuki, Mung beans, Pinto beans, Soybeans, Lentils, Kidney Beans and much more. All of these provide very high quality, fat free protein. From the nuts and seeds category, you can choose; Walnuts (black Walnuts have 40 % > protein than English Walnuts.), Sunflower seeds, Pignolias, Almonds (very high mineral content), Cashews (my favorite), Flax (Linseed), Pumpkin, Pepitas, Squash seeds, Sesame Seeds (Good source of Protein), Pecans and so much more.
Lets not forget the grains. We have Buckwheat, wheat, Millet, Amaranth & Quinoa, Triticale (high-protein), Oats and more. This category, though very good for your body, does not contain high proportions of protein to carbs.

If you want to get some of your protein from animal sources, I would go with fish. All the others like milk, non-organic eggs, and white meat are all just as bad for your health as the red meat. Fish on the other hand, if obtained from the wild and not farmed (btw, majority of fish you see in the super markets are farmed fish). Mackerel Cod, salmon, & sardines are known to have very high quality protein and fats, and are also easily digestible.

Also remember to have variety in your diet, and if possible get organic as much as possible (see if you have any food coops in your locale for affordable organic food

For further info I highly recommend you read "Get Healthy Now!" by Gary Null
For more vegetarian info go to

And if you have any more questions feel free send me an email.
Good luck.
Jul 28, 2001 6:22 AM
Hey man, it is really a myth that one cannot survive and thrive without meat. I have been vegetarian for the past 2 years and I actually noticed some improvement in my endurance level. However, I do eat fish and eggs very occasionally, not. But one can actually live a healthier and active live being totally vegan. I turned vegetarian for many reasons the important of which were my health, the protection of environment (yes a meat eating societies contribute a great deal to increasing the methane level released into the environment) and for ethical reasons.

Now, it may sound like I'm making up all these stuff, but bear in mind that some really great athletes of our time like Carl Lewis (probably the best Olympian US ever produced), Dave Scott (the legend who won five consecutive Ironman Triathlons), Martina Navratillova (she certainly did not lack muscles :), Bill Pearl (One of the greats in bodybuilding circles, Mr. Universe) and I can go on and on.

As far as proteins go, we have so many options that meat eaters are totally ignorant about. From legumes we have; Adzuki, Mung beans, Pinto beans, Soybeans, Lentils, Kidney Beans and much more. All of these provide very high quality, fat free protein. From the nuts and seeds category, you can choose; Walnuts (black Walnuts have 40 % > protein than English Walnuts.), Sunflower seeds, Pignolias, Almonds (very high mineral content), Cashews (my favorite), Flax (Linseed), Pumpkin, Pepitas, Squash seeds, Sesame Seeds (Good source of Protein), Pecans and so much more.
Lets not forget the grains. We have Buckwheat, wheat, Millet, Amaranth & Quinoa, Triticale (high-protein), Oats and more. This category, though very good for your body, does not contain high proportions of protein to carbs.

If you want to get some of your protein from animal sources, I would go with fish. All the others like milk, non-organic eggs, and white meat are all just as bad for your health as the red meat. Fish on the other hand, if obtained from the wild and not farmed (btw, majority of fish you see in the super markets are farmed fish). Mackerel Cod, salmon, & sardines are known to have very high quality protein and fats, and are also easily digestible.

Also remember to have variety in your diet, and if possible get organic as much as possible (see if you have any food coops in your locale for affordable organic food

For further info I highly recommend you read "Get Healthy Now!" by Gary Null
For more vegetarian info go to

And if you have any more questions feel free send me an email at
Good luck.
Jul 28, 2001 2:29 PM
healthier...fine, I will agree with you, so it is. It is also a pain in the neck. Jeez, imagine spending all the money you spent on rare nuts and all this other healthy diet stuff. I could probably buy two DA bikes with the money over a short period of something like 2 years. Also imagine dying tomorrow.... Meat eaters are a living proof that people live long, I dont' doubt I will have as full a life as you will. I know some of your kind....thin, unhealthy fragile looking underweight biker kid who doesn't have enough energy because all he can get in that college cafe is damn tofu and tuna fish of yours. Plus, everyone knows that fish out of the lake or ocean also contains enough toxins due to accumulation in the food net. So, i don't know if I want to eat lake fish full of lead on regular basis, or go for a farmed kind. Okay, this is it, I promise to never post anything else in this thread.
Jul 29, 2001 2:45 AM
I think you are referring to mercury contamination and not lead in the case of fish. Also your argument is full of rhetoric with no facts and sound reasoning.

"rare nuts"? What are you talking about? All of those nuts and other food groups that I mentioned are very common and very affordable. Just because you have only recognized bacon egg and may be potato as the only food, doesn't make those nuts and seeds "rare".

As far as prices, if you buy those foods raw and unprocessed (which is btw, the best form) you can find them quite cheap. In fact, if you have a coop or farmer's market near you should be able to find a much greater variety than I mentioned before. There you can find the organically grown as well.

Also, meat is technically a lot more costly than any other foods (save sea foods). It's just that our corrupt and manipulated government actually has set aside a portion of our tax money to subsidize your meat. Thus, bringing the meat prices artificially down so you can enjoy your burgers. In fact "On average, you need 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of feedlot beef, 6 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of pork, 3 pounds of grain to produce one pound of chicken"
According to the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research group ""If everyone adopted a vegetarian diet and no food were wasted, current [food] production would theoretically feed 10 billion people, more than the projected population for the year 2050,"

Your opinion, that on average meat eater will live just as long as a vegetarian is dead wrong. In fact an English study that compared the diets of 6,115 vegetarians and 5,015 meat eaters for 12 years found that the meatless diet yielded a 40 percent lower risk of cancer and a 20 percent lower risk of dying from any cause.

As far as the mercury in the fish, your dental amalgam filling (contains 50% mercury by weight) releases by far more mercury (toxic metal) than any amount of fish eating will do. 87% of the body burden of mercury comes from amalgam fillings, which release mercury vapor into the body 24 hours a day.

You are also assuming too many negative things about vegetarians. Just because one is vegetarian doesn't mean they are thin and lack muscle mass. On the contrary, I myself once turned vegetarian I lost much of my "gut" mass while maintaining and refining my overall body musculature. I never knew that a lean and healthy strong body was ever a liability in bicycle racing. People like Dave Scott, Carl Lewis, Hank Aaron and many more prominent athletes are living proof of the efficacy of a vegetarian lifestyle.

I hope that enlightens you a little bit.
add somepeloton
Jul 29, 2001 5:58 AM
Our government also subsidizes farmers who grow plant products here in the US. Sometimes farmers are paid to not bring extra grain or vegetables to market so as to drive the price up or not to flood the market. Corruption and manipulation are everywhere. There is no pie in the sky.

As my post above pointed out, there are risks with every diet. What are your thougts on pesticides and genetic engineering and the health risks that come with them?
Extremely important, read right away.Woof the dog
Jul 29, 2001 8:26 PM
Your foolishness made me break my promise.
There are a lot of things that can be said, too bad you are so biased while I am still quite open to information. For one, I am for a diet that includes meat, i.e. no specific diet - regular food consumption that I have been doing since I was born. I'd like you to know that I happen to be born in some other country, and grew up without fat burgers. Like peloton said, there are risks with every diet. Vegetarians, I think, are in a much greater danger to miss out on something very important, the consequences of which will result YEARS later. You feel good now, fine...I wouldn't bet that you will feel the same 10 years from now. Go ahead and give me your examples (you call them facts) of some small study probably made to prove your point. Your example of the 12 year long study makes me laugh.
More points: I heard that vegetarian diet is harmful to young children (that don't really matter here though). The talk about 10 percent of population being vegetarian may be true, but you gotta look at why that is. In India, for example, meat eating is more "careful" (coming from the words of those who've been there)...certain upper casts don't eat much meat, while others do. The point is, a lot of (semi-)vegetarianism is likely based on religion, customs and traditions which are, in turn, based on experience with foods they had on hand. Notice, Linuxdude, it took thousands of years to obtain that experience. It took generations of people to uhm...lets call it "micro-adjust" to that specific diet, those specific food plants and animals (and insects). And then you Linuxdude, a perfect example of a member of Western diet society, come in here with claims that you "felt good" eating vegies and give us "facts" (notice the quotation marks) that were based on what? like a hundred years of studies? For the life of me, I cannot understand how can you be so foolish to believe what you were told? Don't you see that you CAN'T wake up one day and say "I will stop eating meat" ? There are specific reasons for it. You and no doubt your parents ate meat all your friggin lives, for christ sake. It is completely clear to me that our predecessors were omnivores (you know what that means right?)....animal proteins were a part of a healthy balanced diet, which to our own peril we replaced with mass produced crops. And then out of the blue....oh my god, we have chronic deseases. Its interesting how many fat children and teenagers there are in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world. No sh!it Sherlok, that just proves my point that you can't eat excess of farmed meat, you should eat only as much as your healthy athletic body needs; BUT you can't just eliminate it from the diet either. Nutrition science news says: "100,000 generations of people were hunter-gatherers, 500 generations have depended on agriculture, only 10 generations have lived since the start of the industrial age, and only two generations have grown up with highly processed fast foods." Notice how often the word "meat" can you apply to each of those groups. Denying yourself an essential part of your diet is just like hitting your own head with a hammer. Understand? I am not persuading you to eat fat burgers for breakfast, but you do need meat. I agree that Western diet is not the best, but do need meat! Eat only plants and you risk some kind of chronic desease/malnutrition years later, my friend, because none of us or our ancestors ever used your horrible diet before. Don't even bother giving me more of your "facts." Your facts are biased, while I back up with tradition and more sound scientific evidence that says "we survived because of adaptations to animal consumption." Admit it, I make a hell of a lot more sense then you do.

P.S. Peloton, I don't think I have to elaborate on just how rediculous our underground water stores are due
Extremely important, read right away.Mark Gold
Jul 31, 2001 11:42 AM
Hi! Actually, I think many, many people eliminate meat from their diet without any problem whatsoever -- even some athletes. I was vegan for over 7 years and was an athlete and had no problems whatsoever. Now, I eat meat whenever I feel like it -- 5-20 times per year or so.

Many researchers and nutritionists (recently involved in this issue) have pointed out that adequate supplies of all nutrients can be obtained from a balanced vegetarian diet. The one exception is B-12 in 100% vegan diets. The includes easily adequate supplies of protein, zinc, iron, EFAs, etc. Some of the studies on the web site you listed actually point out no deficiencies would be expected with a balanced vegetarian diet. One study on the web page showed that vegetarian women who didn't consume much (or any) legumes were deficient in zinc. Well, of course! Legumes are an important part of a balanced vegetarian diet. An equally imbalanced omnivore diet could lead to defenciencies as well. The studies cited measuring iron levels in vegetarians compared them to what they called "normal" iron levels derived from measuring meat-eaters. Lower levels of a nutrient is not inherently bad unless the lower level leads to health problems. It is to be expected that some vegetarians have lower levels of iron (but may have higher levels of other nutrients).

The web page you listed pointed to a study that should that vegetarians have a lower level of death due to "ischemic heart disease" than non-vegetarians. The web page discussed cancer and vegetarianism but it should be pointed out that these days researchers tend to look at specific types of foods as it relates to cancer (e.g., dairy) rather than the non-specific studies related to general makeup of the diet.

The reason most food/nutrition organizations and scientists are not overly-concerned with people choosing to eat a vegetarian diet is that there is little, if any, evidence showing it to be a hazard. Even on that web page you listed, I did not see any adverse health effects found by scientists -- only a few potentially deficient nutrients should the diet be extremely restrictive (e.g., leaving out legumes and/or grains). I would be interested to see any specific studies that show otherwise (especially since I ocassionally write nutrition articles for physicians, trade journals, magazines, etc.).

I would be the first to admit that some people do not have a clue as to how to eat a balanced or healthy vegetarian diet. Many vegetarians eat too much grain, too few legumes (other than extreme excess processed soy), not quite a wide enough variety of vegetables. However, similar things can be said of an omnivore diet. I think it speaks more to the inadequancy of the nutrition education system (or "adequacy" or junk food ads) than it does to the effects of the diet. Also, vegetarian diets are definately not for everyone. But some people get enormous health benefits -- for decades (at least for the decades I've been following the field and reading about it).

I have found that most people are better off not becoming entrenched in a dietetic philosophy, but rather being open to experiment to find out what works best for them -- keeping in mind that as one's body and health changes, what works best at a particular time may change as well. (Also, the long-term effects should be considered -- not just how 'peppy' one feels at the moment.)


Mark Gold
Jul 31, 2001 3:58 PM
Help! Since i turned vegan i've been wasting away!!! i lost 50 pounds, 50 cholesterol points, and 35 resting heart rate beats. I wake up early now with way too much energy, this forces me to ride 50-75 miles a day. I'm a slave to the dreadful B12 pills and only need iron when the road rash repair necessitates an increase in my red blood cell count. Please give me some advice... all the real intellectuals and doctors i talk to say that i'm really hurting myself by not eating meat, dairy etc... Take last week after a 175 mile jaunt, i felt pretty tired, is this normal? maybe a bit of flesh would help alleviate these dreadful symptoms i've been having.
please advise
Just a thoughtpeloton
Aug 1, 2001 7:15 PM
This isn't meant as a slam, but I don't see what your post proves.
You lost 50lbs, 50 cholesterol points, and your resting heart rate went down 35 beats. All that points to is how bad your diet and or exercise regiment was before, and not how becoming a vegan alleviated your woes. What the post does prove, is when you start paying attention to what goes into your body your health gets better. A diet that is thought out and carried through would do a lot of people a lot of good, regardless of what the diet may be. Again, not a flame but just an observation.

I have no specific hard feelings against a vegetarian diet, no more so than any other type of non-traditional diet such as the Adkins, Zone, or even ultra low fat. Our diets are something that have evolved over thousands of generations. Our bodies have come to require certain elements to sustain life, be they vitamins, minerals, protein, or fat. These elements are based on the omnivorous diet that our ancestors consumed. Cutting out any part of our natural diet, or messing with proportions will cause complications. Our bodies need many things, some come from plant sources and some from animal origin.

Most people here in the United States don't eat very well to begin with. The typical American diet is centered around fatty meats and low nutrient foods. When the average person tries some non-traditional diet they are sure to get results when compared to what they were eating before. This doens't mean that they chose the best path. Their is a large field of mediocrity in between failure and success. Because improvement to mediocrity was made over failure, should that mean that the non-traditional diet is the best way to eat? No, maybe just better than before. A high protein diet such as Adkins or Zone can cause renal problems, cholesterol issues, heart problems, and even loss of lean body mass once discontinued. A excessively low fat diet can cause skin, hair, and nerve problems. A vegan diet doesn't contain adequate vitamin B12, and frequently results in low iron, low riboflavin, and deficiencies of other elements as well. What does this say about diets not based upon proportions described in the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid? They give you too much of some things, and not enough of others. While some of these diets may show success in people with abominable eating habits before, it doesn't mean it is the best way to fuel the human machine. We are omnivorous by nature. One only has to open their mouth to see this. We have large molars in the back for crushing and processing plants. We also have pointed incisors in the front for tearing and cutting meat. Our bodies have evolved to survive on large amounts of plants supplemented by smaller amounts of meats. Any diet that sways from this is like trying to put unleaded gasoline in an old classic car meant for leaded. This is my problem with trying to re-invent the wheel with diet. How can thousands of years of evolution be wrong?
Another way to look at it.Mark Gold
Aug 1, 2001 10:15 PM
All of the scientific evidence I've seen and experience from countless vegetarians and vegans and statements by government and public/private organizations shows that all necessary nutrients can be provided by a balanced vegetarian diet (except from B-12 in a strict vegan diet). Deficiencies are seen in people who are not familiar with eating a balanced diet. However, probably just as great or greater a proportion of people eating an omnivorous diet have health problems from ignorance about diet. If someone (including athletes) can get their needed nutrients and feel good from a vegetarian diet, then there is certainly no need to eat meat ... unless they want to. I am not vegetarian now, but I can understand why some people do it for health reasons.

I think it's about adaptability. We really do not know *exactly* what our ancestors ate and in what proportions (although it probably varied from area to area). The fact that we have a couple of teeth with the ability to chew meat simply shows that we *can* eat some meat -- not that we have to. Most likely, people in some ancient civilizations ate wild plants and some unknown amount of freshly-cooked game (venicin). They certainly only ate local plants (probably not many bananas, oranges, etc. in many climates) and it is unlikely they hunted nutritionally-different "wild cows." They didn't eat any processed foods, additives, preservatives, didn't use microwave ovens. No water with chlorine or silicofluoride compounds and none from plastic-leeching bottles. Ice cream, yogurt, soda pop, energy bars (with their processed ingredients), and sports drinks were no doubt in short supply. They probably slept outside quite a bit. Hunted and did other necessary things for exercise. I doubt they sat on a thin, hard triangle, bent over at the waist, and moved their feet in circles for hours. They most likely didn't breathe polluted air and were not locked up breathing stale air in office buildings all day. Not likely that they spent any significant amount of time surrounded by power lines, computer screens, and other equipment producing unnaturally strong electrical and magnetic fields.

So, if we want to fuel our bodies like our ancestors, we'll have to take a wild guess on the proportions and eat only unprocessed local wild plants and possibly some wild game (depending on what our wild guess as to what our particular ancestors ate). It could take quite a bit of time deciding the average balance of grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, seeds/nuts, meat, liquids, etc. that our ancestors ate. Ancestorily balanced exercise would not include cycling, but mostly walking, running and hunting.

I think humans can adapt fairly well within reason. Many, many people I know feel much healthier on a vegetarian diet and get all of the nutrients they need. And many others I know don't. Many people I know (including me) feel healthier cycling for hours most days even though our ancestors probably never evolved doing anything close to that sort of exercise. Since there is no evidence of long-term harm from a balanced vegetarian (or omivorous) diet (sans the unhealthy crap), I don't see why anyone needs to figure out and stick to exactly what our ancestors ate, but instead, find out what works for them in the short-term and try to estimate what they need for long-term health. That very well may include a wild guess at what their particular ancestors ate or it may involve looking a dietetic philosophies from ancient civilizations (e.g., China, India) or it may involve eliminating some foods for a particular reason (e.g., health, spiritual), etc.

That's the way I look at it, anyway.

- Mark
We agree more than we differ, I'll clarify myselfpeloton
Aug 2, 2001 7:10 AM
The diet and environment that people live in surely has changed drastically in the past 100 years. Different cultures survive on different diets, and we all eat the way we do for our own reasons. I've studied nutrition and the human body, and something that I have seen is that there are few things that can rival a good old fashioned 'sensible balanced diet', like what many of us saw in school on the food guide pyramid. Lots of vegetables, grains, fruit, with smaller amounts of meats, nuts, and fatty foods. It really doesn't need to be said that the average American diet is far from ideal. Americans look for quick fixes to the woes that have been brought on by their poor eating habits. We see this every day on a commercial, in a tabloid, or from some self claimed nutritionist. These sources put out a variety of ideas, ultra low fat, high protein, low this, high that. What worries me is that people need certain elements in their diet to stay healthy. When you start cutting things out, or adding in too much of some things you risk deficiency or excess. I don't really percieve someone who eats fish, chicken, or dairy to be vegetarian. A true vegan, someone who only eats plants, is missing parts of their diet they need to be healthy. A vegan diet isn't healthy for children, adequate B12, and other elemets like riboflavin, iron, leysin, methionine, and zinc can be at risk too. I view this as being an incomplete diet if supplementation is needed to give the body everything it needs. How can a diet be truly healthy if it doesn't give you everything you need to survive?

A lot of people can live more healthy lives when they do take up what I would call a non-traditional diet such as vegetarianism (a vegan diet for argument's sake). That is only a comparison to where they were before though. The improvement isn't an implication that it is the best way to eat. A healthy diet gives you everything you need for healthy survival without supplementation, and not too much either.
We agree more than we differ, I'll clarify myselfcounterthought
Aug 2, 2001 11:19 AM
"A true vegan, someone who only eats plants, is missing parts of their diet they need to be healthy."

Actually a 'true vegan' is someone that doesn't consume any animal products or byproducts or items refined or made with animal products.

Vegan's live longer, have less cancers, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes...

...but they are missing parts of their diet they need to be healthy no question about it.
showing your ignorancepeloton
Aug 2, 2001 8:20 PM
I'm sorry, but we have been having what seems like a civil discussion on diet here. If you would like to contribute constructively, please feel free to share information. I would like to see the thoughts of others in order to enhance my own knowledge base. I guess my degrees in the fields of health, and physiology aren't enough to match wits with your insight.

Thank you for telling me that a true vegan is someone who doens't consume animal products, or byproducts of animal origin. Kind of the same thing as just eating plants, huh? I apologize if I dumbed it down too much for your intellect.

Vegans live longer, have less cancers, heart disease, and arthritis? Compared to the average American maybe, but I would like to see a conclusive study that shows how much better it is than a balanced diet, and not just the typical American diet. I'll show you a statistic, 10 percent of the world is vegetarian. Less than two percent of all Olympic level athletes are vegetarian.

"...but they are missing parts of their diet they need to be healthy no question about it." At least you were right once. Show me a vegan diet that contains adequate amounts of vitamin B12. I could go on about iron, lysin, methionine, riboflavin, zinc, and others too. Show me where the adequate levels come from here.

Now seriously, can we have a civil discussion or will you just flame with misinformation?
showing your ignoranceMark Gold
Aug 2, 2001 10:51 PM
Hi! I want to point out again that there are no studies ever published showing that a balanced vegetarian diet provides inadequate nutrition or leads to any health problems whatsoever. Even that web page cited that is one of the more anti-vegetarian sources I've seen has the following quote from a researcher: "The fact that vegetarian populations have no gross mineral deficiencies suggests that the mineral status of most vegetarians is probably adequate." The only exception would be Vitamin B12 for strict vegans.

There is large amounts of iron in vegetable-based foods that easily makes up for the fact that it is absorbed less efficiently than iron from some meats. Various legumes, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and fruits provide large amounts of iron. Deficiencies are not common. What some web pages and authors call "deficiencies" are often just comparing stored iron levels in vegetarians to the general public who tend to be relatively heavy meat-eaters. But these types of comparisons have little relation to health. If obtaining iron was difficult from a balanced vegetarian diet, then anemia in vegetarians would be widespread -- it isn't. Granted, I've seen some vegetarians who eat so poorly (like some omnivores) that they are bound to have deficiencies. Intelligent nutritional planning is equally important for vegetarians and omnivores.

Zinc is another mineral that can easily be obtained by eating a balanced vegetarian diet. Many seeds and nuts contain large amounts of zinc. Wheat bran and brewers yeast are other common sources. Some vegetables contain significant quantities of zinc. People who eat lousy diets whether they be vegetarian or contain some meat can be deficient in zinc (especially athletes). Many nutrionally-oriented physicians are now giving zinc supplements to some children (most omnivores) because their poor diets are so low in zinc.

Adequate supplies of Riboflavin (B2) can be obtained from nuts and seeds, corn, peas, some legumes, and a variety of other foods (because many foods, e.g., spinach, brocolli, asparagus, etc. contain some and it adds up to sufficient amounts when having some variety and balance in the diet). There is no evidence that pregnant vegetarians have huge percentages of fetal damage (typically seen from inadequate B2) even though riboflavin is important during pregnancy.

Plenty of protein and amino acids, including lysine and methionine, can be obtained from vegetable sources. The combination of grains and legumes provides quite a bit of protein and a balance of amino acids (provided soy is not the only legume). Some vegetarians don't combine grains and legumes any longer because *technically* one can get plenty of protein and the right combination of amino acids without combining grains and legumes at the same meal. I think people are better off to combining them though (for a variety of reasons). Also, some vegetarians stick only with soy and their sole legume of choice. Even with just soy, one can get enough protein and amino acids, but it's much harder.

B12 is only an issue for strict vegans. The body stores B12 for a long time after eating meat and many people can go years without B12 if they had stores from eating earlier omnivorous eating. I was on a vegan diet for many years without B12 supplements and was perfectly fine. Many, many others have similar experiences. However, strict vegans can take supplemental B12 on ocassion and still have no problems.

The following web page contains more recent detail and scientific reference about adequate iron found in vegetarian food sources. Also, there is information about vegan sources for active B12, a fairly recent American Dietetic Association paper about benefits and adequate nutrition from vegetarian diet, and recent research about vegetarian diets and nutrition:

- Mark
hi again, Markpeloton
Aug 3, 2001 10:09 PM
Vitamin B12 is pretty interesting. It is a water soluble vitamin, yet the body can store it within the body tissue. Usually only fat soluble vitamins can be stored by the body. The requirements for B12 are also very, very low. Less than a gram per day. Some bacteria in our digestive systems also produce minute amounts of this vitamin as well. Trace amounts found in some plants are usually a result of bacteria contaminating the vegetation. Deficiencies of B12 can take years to unfold. Symptoms are usually lethargy and a foggy head so to speak. B12 deficiency affects the nervous system and some other functions of the body. Although symptoms of a deficiency take years to unfold here, your nervous system isn't something that you want to take risks with so supplementation is a good idea for individuals practicing a vegan diet.

Iron deficiencies in vegetarians are more common than in the omnivorous population. Working with athletes over the years, you can see a difference in certain segments of the population due to iron and anemia. This is usually in adolesent women, whose needs for iron are higher. I have seen athletes from this segment of the population who are noticably more lethargic during times of menstruation during training. This lethargy I have seen in far worse in the athletes who practice a vegtarian diet. As I stated in a recent post, there was a recent survey that showed individuals practicing a lacto-ovo diet to have lower percentages of iron. 5% lower for males, and 27% for females. Iron is very important during periods of strenous training, and even more important at altitude. I personally know a number of professional athletes who supplement iron at altitude to help the body to boost hemocrit so as to fight off the effects of altitude and the lethargy that comes with it. These are also athletes who practice an omnivorous diet and have their blood drawn daily for performance monitoring. The experience that I have had shows me that iron is very important to performance and fighting off lethargy and anemia. Vegetarian athletes I have worked with have greater problems here as a general population with keeping adequate levels of iron in their systems. It may not go to the level of being a deficiency that threatens survival, but it is a performance issue.

Zinc is common in the vegetarian diet. The problem here also just comes from poor diet choices. Many vegans consume too many grains. This becomes a problem to zinc because of the presence of phylic acid. Phylic acid from grains binds to zinc and prevents it from being absorbed by the system. Again, it just proves planning is important to diet to prevent problems.

Lysin and Methionine also have problems due to poor diet choices. Lysin and Methionine are found in the vegan diet only from combinations of different imcomplete proteins consumed at the same time to form complete proteins. The problem can come here that adequate combinations are not found in some vegan diets, which in turn causes the problem.

Many of the problems I state here simply come from poor diet. The same could be said of the diets of many people. The vegetarian diet can be healthy, but some knowledge must be aquired in order to do so. Most people don't even know what they need from a normal diet, so why make it harder for them? Supplementation may also be needed in the case of a vegan diet. An ideal diet to me doesn't require supplementation to make up for deficiencies. And lastly, performance at the highest levels seems to be limited by a vegetarian diet in a general sense. Most people aren't at the highest level though, so a little performance loss may not be an issue here. So to sum up my thoughts- A vegetarian diet can be a healthy way to eat. I just don't believe it to be the easiest answer, or the best one for an athlete from my experience. Humbly and respectfully.
Aug 2, 2001 11:07 AM
"We are omnivorous by nature,One only has to open their mouth to see this. We have large molars in the back for crushing and processing plants. We also have pointed incisors in the front for tearing and cutting meat."

Try using your pearly whites to tear through a moose, deer or any other choice meat! Enzyme content of small intestines of carnivores vs humans... completely different. Length of intestines of carnivores vs humans... completely different. Studies tend to disprove your statement. (but please don't take my word, look it up
heyWoof the dog
Aug 2, 2001 6:56 PM
I thought my reference website clarified a lot of things about our dark past. Peloton is right, I agree with him completely. The knowledge that you base your position on is taken out of a middle school biology text (regarding the intestine length) and does not really apply to what we are talking about. Peloton is not comparing carnivores like cheetahs to humans. Can you contribute something better please? Look up what studies and where?
Woof the dog.
What studies?peloton
Aug 2, 2001 8:25 PM
There are studies that show the human body is not omnivorous by nature? There are studies that show that a combination of incisors and molars are not a sign of an animal that is omnivorous?

Of course our intestinal length, bacterial content, and enzymes aren't the same as that of a pure carnivore. Humans aren't carnivores. Humans are omnivores.

Please direct me to the studies that disprove these comments.
veggies vs meatcounterthought
Aug 2, 2001 11:15 PM
"I guess my degrees in the fields of health, and physiology aren't enough to match wits with your insight."

i bow to your nutritional intellectual supremecy... (please take my insults lightly... i'm somewhat of a jesting non flaming type =)

My (uneducated 11th grade biology text biased) opinion is that (as i believe was the original question raised):
-a vegetarian diet CAN be safe for atheletes.
Athletes need to ensure that their nutritional needs are met whether they are carcass consuming carnivores or bamboo munching vegetarians.

"Show me where the adequate levels come from here." Here goes...

B-12.. algaes, nutritional yeasts, spirulina, wheat grass and fortified soy milk all contain small amounts. Nearly all vegetarians should take a supplement which if their intrisic factor (absorbs B12) is functioning properly will absorb adequate amounts.

Iron.. women need to be especially careful. Found in molasses, chick peas, sesame seed, dark leafy greens (Vit C helps absorbtion)

Methonine: avocado, seeds, wheat germ all contain this essential amino acid.

Lysin: whole wheat bread, rye bread, whole grain rice, whole grain pasta,...), tempeh, tofu as well as other pulses, seeds and nuts should do it for this amino acid.

Riboflavin: Dark green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, brewer's yeast, enriched and whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, fruit are the main sources.

Zinc: Nuts, legumes, miso, lima beans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, wheat germ, whole-grain yeast breads, whole-grain cereals.

Also...carefull to get enough :
Calcium:Fortified soy milk, tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, blackstrap molasses, dried figs and prunes, pinto beans.

Vitamin D: the SUN! fortified foods such as soy milk.

Upon careful examination i do not believe that this list requires an extraordinary effort to implement into one's diet.

"Humans aren't carnivores. Humans are omnivores.
Please direct me to the studies that disprove these comments."

These studies definately DON't disprove your statement... however here are some facts and figures and statistics to show that not eating meat is BETTER for omnivores:

A) 1994 report {Fungalbionics Convention: The Fungal/Mycotoxin Etiology of Chronic and Degenerative Disease. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, September 30, 1994} concludes that consumption of uric acid causes diabetes. The fermentation of meat (in our long and complex digestive tract) creates the mycotxin uric acid. (Yeast also causes uric acid by the way)

B) 1992 research in Argentina showed that eating eggs, milk and cheese produces an increase in colon cancer. {Constantini, Weiland, Qvick, op. cit. (Ref. 32), p. 84.}

C) 1993 stucy in Austrailia indicated the egg consumption coorelated with colon cancer in females, along with red meat, and other dairy foods. {Constantini, Weiland, Qvick, op. cit. (Ref. 32), p. 78.}

D) International Journal of Cancer 1993 article concluded that red meat and poultry increase risk of colon cancer.
Reference: Steinmetz, K.A. and Potter, J.D. Food-group consumption and colon cancer in the Adelaide case-control study: meat, poultry, seafood, dairy foods and eggs. International Journal of Cancer, 1993; 53(5): 720-27.

E) Journal of the Japan National Cancer Institute 1993 article investigates the correlation between consumption of animal fat and prostate cancer compared to the consumption of vegetable fat. It concludes our bodies can digest vegetable fat, but not animal fat nearly as well.
Reference: Giovannucci, E., Rimm, E.B., Colditz, Stampfer, M.J., Ascherio, A., Chute, C.C., Willett, W.C. A prospective study of dietary fat and risk of prostate cancer. Journal of the
veggies vs meat part con'tcounterthought
Aug 2, 2001 11:23 PM
F) 1990 article in Japanese Journal of Cancer Clinics notes that prior to WW II breast cancer was all but non-existent among Japanese women. Post WW II, their diet became more "Westernized" and risk for breast cancer increased as meat consumption increased.
Reference: Kikuchi, S., Okamoto, N., Suzuki, T., Kawahara, S., Nagai, H., Sakiyama, T., Wada, O., Inaba, Y. A case-control study of breast cancer/mammory cyst and dietary, drinking or smoking habits in Japan. Japanese Journal of Cancer Clinics, 1990; 24: 365-69.


Evidence of Humans as Omnivores

Archeological Record
As far back as it can be traced, clearly the archeological record indicates an omnivorous diet for humans that included meat. Our ancestry is among the hunter/gatherers from the beginning. Once domestication of food sources began, it included both animals and plants.

Cell Types
Relative number and distribution of cell types, as well as structural specializations, are more important than overall length of the intestine to determining a typical diet. Dogs are typical carnivores, but their intestinal characteristics have more in common with omnivores. Wolves eat quite a lot of plant material.

Fermenting Vats
Nearly all plant eaters have fermenting vats (enlarged chambers where foods sits and microbes attack it). Ruminants like cattle and deer have forward sacs derived from remodeled esophagus and stomach. Horses, rhinos, and colobine monkeys have posterior, hindgut sacs. Humans have no such specializations.

Although evidence on the structure and function of human hands and jaws, behavior, and evolutionary history also either support an omnivorous diet or fail to support strict vegetarianism, the best evidence comes from our teeth.
The short canines in humans are a functional consequence of the enlarged cranium and associated reduction of the size of the jaws. In primates, canines function as both defense weapons and visual threat devices. Interestingly, the primates with the largest canines (gorillas and gelada baboons) both have basically vegetarian diets. In archeological sites, broken human molars are most often confused with broken premolars and molars of pigs, a classic omnivore. On the other hand, some herbivores have well-developed incisors that are often mistaken for those of human teeth when found in archeological excavations.

Salivary Glands
These indicate we could be omnivores. Saliva and urine data vary, depending on diet, not taxonomic group.

Intestinal absorption is a surface area, not linear problem. Dogs (which are carnivores) have intestinal specializations more characteristic of omnivores than carnivores such as cats. The relative number of crypts and cell types is a better indication of diet than simple length. We are intermediate between the two groups.

Humans are classic examples of omnivores in all relevant anatomical traits. There is no basis in anatomy or physiology for the assumption that humans are pre-adapted to the vegetarian diet. For that reason, the best arguments in support of a meat-free diet remain ecological, ethical, and health concerns.

(The following information was taken from The New York Times, May 15, 1979. According to Dr. Alan Walker, a Johns Hopkins University anthropologist.)

I've taken the time to write this as i feel misinformation abounds when it comes to 'expert' opinions on vegetarianism. I am constantly warned of the dangers of being vegetarian from family and health experts. I feel that the real danger lies in the half truths that are so prevalent which stem from the millions of dollars (from the meat and dairy industries) spent on unscientific research... but i digress..

It is debatable which is the better diet(vegetarian or omnivore ), all i present to you is that a vegetarian (vegan) diet is safe, can meet all nu
ramblings part IIIcounterthought
Aug 2, 2001 11:26 PM
...a vegetarian (vegan) diet is safe, can meet all nutritional requirements, and can fuel the engine of an endurance athelete or the couch sitting recreational joe.

sorry for the sermon, i'll pass the collection plate, lets sing a hymn and we can all go ride =)
well saidpeloton
Aug 3, 2001 8:01 AM
Well said. I do believe that you can be healthy with a vegetarian diet, it was not my intent to state otherwise. I do feel that a vegan diet has shortcomings from what I have seen in dealing with athletes and their performance. Other vegetarian diets which utilize dairy and some meat products such as fish are often very healthy ways to eat which also don't require supplementation. I think that the rest we discuss is really just politics and semantics.
It has been my experience that the best way to eat is based on the food guide pyramid, vegetarian diets excluding vegan are really set up within these boundaries when done properly.

Greater threats to all of our diets are really more innocuous. Sugar, refined grains, and processed products affect everyone's diet and none of them are too healthful. We could all do a little better there I suspect. At least we are all showing here that there is some awareness for diet here, and that is always a good thing.
Extremely important, read right away.bro
Aug 10, 2001 2:52 PM
Woof,why do you dismiss his "facts" and expect he and the readers to accept "your facts"?
Jul 29, 2001 2:43 PM
I'm going to race collegic (Rocky Mountain COnference, Go CSU rah rah rah) and I have no problem slaying all in chicago.

Be Careful with protiens definatly, but now that I'm vegitarian I eat beeter (Pun intended) and I feel generally healthier. I have no problems with my riding scheduale milage, 40 a day on week days 60-70 a day on the weekends, depending on how much homework I have.

Now, If I just hadn't hit that truck and hadn't crushed my frame like a bagel under a 20lb sledge......
Thank you, everyoneDuane Gran
Jul 30, 2001 6:12 AM
I appreciate all the replies and perspective on both sides. I think as far as the debate goes, we are fortunate to have access to nutrition information in order to make informed decisions. Cycling is the major factor of my improved fitness, but diet choices affect performance so this is important stuff.

I think fundamentally it comes down to getting what your body needs. We need a certain amount of protien, and more specifically we need a certain amount of all 22 amino acids. On the whole, if these can be acquired through vegetable sources I prefer it. One must of course be mindful of vegetable issues, and that is why I purchase only organic vegetables.

Is this a perfect solution? No, but it seems to be more healthy. I think that my position will be to have meat occassionally, but to earnestly ween myself from it as a source of protien. It simply takes some time to acclimate to a new diet. I think it takes more effort to do the vegetarian diet, but maybe we should all take a moment and consider that we are putting this stuff into our bodies. I think most people on this forum are more aware of their health and fitness than the general populace, so I don't want anyone to think I'm pointing a finger, but over the years my concern about health has steadily grown to where the time and money investment is worth it.

After a few more months I'll do a followup message to the board and let you all know how the diet is going. Again, I appreciate the feedback from all sides.
Good luckpeloton
Jul 30, 2001 7:27 AM
It looks like you are not adverse to putting some time into this. Make sure you eat smart, and read up to get ideas of how to keep yourself healthy. The diet you are describing sounds to me more like a healthy diet based on grains and vegetables with a sensible amount of meat and dairy products than strict vegetarianism. You should be able to go through with this sort of diet with good effects on your health. Best of luck to you.
easy read: _The Glucose Revolution_WadeOmatic
Aug 2, 2001 7:14 PM
Very good up-to-date nutrition guide. I also agree with 95 percent of the teachings of Dr. Andrew Weil. (integrative medicine)

Carl Lewis set a world record in Japan a few years ago while a vegetarian.

I'm not vegetarian, but think that it is a smart thing to do.