Food for Thought - A profile on alternative training diets (part 1)
by Stuart Chase, CKBC athlete rep and 2016 Canadian national champion paracanoe sprint paddler
First up - a flexitarian
It was recently noticed by a few people that I post the occasional photo of some vegan / vegetarian meals on my Instagram feed. The question that followed was: eating “like that”, how do I keep up a sufficient training diet?
First things first: full disclosure. I am not vegan, nor vegetarian, exclusively. My diet is about 80 percent vegan, 10 per cent vegetarian, and 10 per cent white meat (I don’t eat red meat more than a few times a year)
Being 6’7” tall and highly active, the question always turns to ‘without the meat, how do you keep up your energy and weight?!’
I didn’t want to be the only one talking about this subject since (see above) I am not exclusively veggie or vegan.
But two fellow athletes are just that: Dan Thompson, who paddles at False Creek, is new to vegetarianism. Meghan Cheung, from Fort Langley, is exclusively a vegan eater. I thought it would be wise to chat with them to get a better perspective on keeping up energy levels, and maintaining or gaining weight, on a vegan or vegetarian diet. I’ll start, though.
If you’re a training athlete and trying to eat five solid meals a day, squeezing a lot of protein onto the plate as well, not much goes further than peas (or any legume), spinach, kale, and broccoli. I’ll stop you right there and say ‘I know, I know… those are the things people tend to hate the most’ and if I stuck to a vegetarian regime, I might go mad.
It’s the vegan contributions to my diet that lend a ton of flavor and interesting cooking choices, which is surprising to many. People assume vegan food options extend to recycled carboard scraps and pictures of “real” food in magazines.
Not so. As but one example: I can make a cheesy sauce that makes your nachos pop or your macaroni marvelous, has more protein than actual cheese, and uses no animal products. A few of my family’s favourites, though, are pajeong (Korean pancakes), and cauliflower broccoli tots (both easily made as vegan or vegetarian).
Volume is always the trick, but with efficient meal planning and prep time, it can be done. Planning for vegan eating can be a bit time consuming, as where one cup of shredded regular cheese requires one ingredient and 60 seconds to prepare, the same volume of a homemade vegan cheese sauce takes ten minutes and 11 ingredients!
Where vegan and veggie eating is concerned, I choose not to buy much prepackaged. Tofu and a plant-based protein powder to supplement my diet is about it. Sure, eating three squares a day at McDonalds would probably take care of that, but that’s not exactly healthy, and where’s the challenge in that?!
Intriqued? Part 2 of our Food for Thought series highlights a paddler who has recently switched to a vegetarian diet.
Paddles for: False Creek Racing Canoe Club
Discipline: Para Canoe
Favourite race: 200m in any boat.
Favourite venue: Shumway Lake outside Kamloops. It’s where I learned to paddle and grew up. It’s like coming home, every time I race there!