Why Veganism is Bad for Body-Builders and Athletes by Toni Orban ACE and ISSA CFT, CMT.
Most of the readers here on HardFitness, one can assume, are not on a vegan diet. Nope, most of you realize and intuitively know the power of protein and the hazards of a no meat diet. That said, today’s trends are a great and many and growing: Here is a short list of modern diets, but not a comprehensive one: vegetarianism (a diet that avoids animal meat and meat byproducts of animals— such as gelatin or rennet), Fruitatarian (fruit based diet), pescetarian (a diet which includes fish but no other meats), Lacto-ovo vegetarian (eggs and milk— but no animal flesh). And to get a chuckle, I have added Kangatarian. The Kangatarian, in addition to foods permissible in a vegetarian diet, kangaroo meat is ok). It is a real diet and you can guess where it hails from. The list goes on ad infinitum ad nauseum (as does the gender list these days— People love neologisms and categorizing. Eat your heart out Carl Linneas)! Back to the topic, and the point of this article: You SHOULD NOT body-build nor train as an athlete and subsist on a vegan diet. First of all, let me clarify the vegan diet: It is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly consumption, and (some) reject that we commoditize animals—at all. That means leather purses, belts, shoes, leather weight-belts, leather boxing gloves (you get the idea).
There are at least two subcategories: Dietary Vegan those who practice for the supposed health benefits, (and yes there are some— but the tradeoff is not good) and Ethical Vegans: this is applied to those who not only follow a vegan diet but abstain from animal use for any purpose.
Lastly, and the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ category is, Environmental Vegans: avoidance of animal products on the premise that industrial farming is environmentally damaging and unsustainable. While it may be idealistic, these adherents have a very valid point (Watch the documentary Cowspiracy).
Certainly, I don’t mean to ‘step on anyone’s toes’ in one’s ethical belief systems. Beliefs— people hold dear. Yet, the science concerning the health hazards on a vegan diet are facts. Facts and beliefs are two different things. It is a matter of fact we cannot manufacture and need for synthesizing OUR own PROTEIN several amino acids. And we must consume them in our diet.
They are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine,
tryptophan and valine. These must come from our diet. And don’t think the one’s that we do make the (non-essentials) are made, UNLESS we consume protein in general. That means your diet must still contain adequate total protein to maintain optimal health.
Yes, it is true by mixing and matching beans with grains, and legumes with certain rice will increase the amino acids (our protein building blocks necessary for health). But you still miss Vitamin b-12! (Yes, I realize you can take this supplement and or get it shot form) Lo! Behold! the amino quality and quantity even in a vegetarian diet is difficult to maintain, let alone vegan! Lacto-ovo diet is the exception. If you consume milk and eggs, you are covered. That said, it is the VEGAN diet here that is under scrutiny.
I imagine this article may offend some readers. Some may even suggest financial elitism here because there are those in the world who have no access to meat (i.e., cannot afford). The matter of fact is you don’t need to consume massive quantities of animal flesh. Just some and few times per week.
And there is newer research suggesting that the long-held dietician standard recommendation of the average persons (0.8 g/kg body weight) may be inadequate!!There is the long-standing body-builders mantra which is valid : 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (2.2 g/kg of BW) per day. It has been a bodybuilding rule of thumb for decades”
There are tons of resources out there, Bodybuiling.com, Muscleforlife.com to calculate your protein needs. There are also resources to find out how much protein is in the foods you eat. For example: one egg has a whopping six grams of protein (a side note, eggs have ALL the essential amino acids they are the gold standard of protein). I don’t recommend you count calories or protein grams precisely, but it is a very good idea to have in mind a rough calculation if you are meeting your protein requirements daily.
There is a great book out by a former vegan and journalist, Mara Kahn and reviewed and backed medical doctor, Dr. Mercola, called Vegan Betrayal. If you are interested in hard backed science and a protracted support for this article read it.
Another great book, again much longer than this article makes the case for Omnivores (which is what we are—like it or not) it’s title is it’s namesake for its premise, The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
From a long-term evolutionary perspective, we (humans) have evolved and survived much as have other animals; eating things (mobile things) around us. This is the hard facts of nature. From a shorter perspective as noted by investigative journalist Mara Kahn in her book, Vegan Betrayal: “…. there doesn’t appear to be a single cultural group in the history of the world who actually survived long-term on an exclusively plant-based diet. So, from a health perspective, there’s very little historical support for the strict veganism idealized today.”
Furthermore, I would like to point out the irony of the vegan diet: THEY are eating meat: Their own. Sarcopenia which is euphemistically called muscle wasting is actually that you are breaking down your own muscles to CONSUME them. Your body wants to, number one preserve its brain, and number two, preserve its organs, muscles— as unfortunate as it is to read— come last in line on the food wagon. Nutrients are delivered in hierarchical order necessary to preserve you the organism. Period.
In the excerpt that follows one can see the irony (the vegan is a cannibal) and the case against veganism: “…. excessively low protein can become a problem for vegans — especially if your diet is also low in healthy fats. Some will get just 8 to 12 percent protein from plants in their daily diet, which can trigger muscle wasting. "In that sense, vegans are consuming flesh after all — their own — if they're not eating enough protein," Kahn says.
One last, sad point and fair warning to bodybuilders and athletes that try veganism: Steroids, our natural production of them need come from our diet//fat intake, particularly cholesterol derived from animals. Kahn writes: “ … fat is another, and in my view, more concerning problem, among vegans. When you eat a high-net carb diet (total carbs minus fiber), you're essentially burning carbohydrates as your primary fuel. If you shift down to relatively low levels of net carbs, which is easy to do on a vegetarian diet since vegetables are so high in fiber, then your body starts burning fat as its primary fuel. This means you need to increase the amount of healthy fats in your diet in order to satisfy your body's fuel demands” [this is the trade-off I mentioned earlier—yes fat burning is good but read on]. Kahn continues, “Sufficient dietary fat is also essential for maintaining healthy hormone levels, including your sex hormones. Raw veganism in particular is associated with loss of menses (amenorrhea), due to low calorie and fat intake, increasing your risk for infertility and osteoporosis” (Kahn). Did you catch that? Hormone levels plummet. That is no bueno, when it comes to hypertrophy that relies on androgens to command protein synthesis. And for Pete’s sake when a woman stops having her menstrual cycle due to diet, we can intuitively know that diet is bad.
 “protein intake” https://www.muscleforlife.com/ Oct 26, 2018.