I’ve never competed as an omni, but I have tried getting fit as an omni and, let me tell you, I struggled hard.
I counted EVERY single calorie I ate (including cough drops), was constantly googling “how to lose weight fast” and “how to tone my stomach.” I looked up “thinspo” on Pinterest more than I would like to admit. I overexercised, I binged, tried EVERY fad diet there was, took appetite suppressants, laxatives, diuretics, ate because I was stressed/depressed, then woke up feeling sooooooo GUILTY the next day about my poor choices—Lather, rinse, repeat…
I did all of this and saw little to no results.
It wasn’t until I went vegan that things finally clicked into place for me. I’m not saying “go vegan because that’s the magic answer and it will solve all your life’s problems and it’ll be nothing but rainbows and butterflies and unicorns who poop calorie-free french fries”. I’m just sharing what worked for me personally.
I didn’t reach my goals despite being vegan. I reached them because I’m vegan.
Benefits of Training as a Vegan
- You cut out the protein middle man. Instead of eating animals who, spoiler alert, get their protein from plants, consider going straight to the source. Animals don’t make protein out of nothing. They actually have to consume plants or other animals (who have consumed plants) to get the amino acids they need to produce protein. Instead of getting hand-me-down, secondhand protein, consider going straight to the source. PLANTS. You can read more about eliminating the protein “middle man” from Darin Olien. Also, if you’ll recall, Popeye wasn’t eating spinach so he could be weak. He was eating his weight in spinach so he could be strong. A little fun fact for you: Popeye was vegan as we was only ever shown eating spinach.
- You can carb the heck up! Generally speaking, vegan foods contain higher percentages of carbs than foods that come from animals and their by-products. With this in mind, if you are working with a coach who know his or her stuff, your macros will reflect this and you’ll be given a higher carb intake. That translates to more potatoes, my friends.
- You won’t be consuming human hair or duck feathers. Yeah, you read that right. BCAAs (otherwise known as branch chain amino acids) are commonly consumed in the fitness world to accelerate recovery and to activate protein synthesis (hello, muscle growth). For nonvegans, these BCAAs can often come from human hair and/or duck feathers as that’s where they pull the amino acids from. I don’t know which of these grosses me out more, but I don’t want to be consuming either of them.
I personally take clean BCAAs that are made from corn, coconuts, and sunflower seeds. They taste like fruit punch and don’t contain icky ingredients. Vegan for the win!
- Plants are full of nutrients. Do you remember your mom telling you to eat your veggies so you’d grow big and strong? I do. She wasn’t saying that just to hear herself speak. She was saying it for your health.
- There is less guilt around your food. Or at least there has been for me. I remember when I was little, I got really upset when I realized that a chicken nugget and a chicken on a farm were the same animal. I was given the “circle of life” speech and told that’s just the way it is and that humans need meat to survive. Later, I remember pigs being my favorite animal because my favorite color was pink. I went through a pig phase where people got me pig-themed gifts for every holiday and birthday. Pig shirts, pig socks, pig slippers, pig toothbrush, pig lamp, etc. I eventually grew out of that phase because realizing that I “loved pigs” and still consumed them when I ate bacon on Sunday mornings made me feel an enormous amount of guilt. I chose to remain oblivious.
Now that I know what I do, I don’t have guilt involved with my food choices. That guilt I had, while living deep below my consciousness most of the time, is no longer there when I eat. It’s liberating.
- You don’t have to worry about high cholesterol. Cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animal products. Some of the biggest contributors of cholesterol in the fitness world are eggs (specifically yolks), meat, and dairy (especially whole milk). These items are nonexistent in a vegan diet.
- You have tons of delicious protein sources to choose from.
- Tempeh (my personal favorite)
- Veggie burgers
- Vegan protein powders (hemp, rice, pea, soy,etc.)
- Vegan yogurt
- Plant milks
- You have already learned some discipline when it comes to food. Going vegan was way easier than I expected it to be. If the food offered to me wasn’t vegan, I didn’t eat it. This isn’t to say that I was never tempted, but it became second nature to say no to foods that weren’t vegan. I learned discipline with my food choices and considered every morsel that went into my body. This benefit of going vegan prepared me to later get more strict with the foods I was eating and it made my training that much easier.