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    Healthy Living — plant based

    Is a Vegan Lifestyle Right For Me?

    Is a Vegan Lifestyle Right For Me?

    From grocery stores to restaurants, you may have noticed “vegan” is a trendy phrase seemingly popping up everywhere recently.

    According to the International Food and Restaurant consulting group Baum + Whiteman, Google saw a 90 percent increase in vegan searches this past year.

    https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/0c5d00_90935d6fda344991a8fc2452eb112c83.pd

    Plus, that group says plant-based dining is the number one hottest restaurant trend of 2018.

    Regardless of your personal interest in plant-based eating, there is no denying it appears companies are taking steps to attract meatless consumers.  

    Several years ago, Unilever tried to sue Hampton Creek, alleging the company’s “Just Mayo” was mislabeled because it does not contain eggs.  Unilever argued mayonnaise should have eggs as an active ingredient. And while Unilever eventually dropped the lawsuit, it decided to enter the plant-based market by coming out with its own egg-free spread.

    We have established corporations investing in smaller plant-based manufacturers. For example, Nestle acquired Sweet Earth Foods, a move that makes Nestle a contender in the meatless protein game.

    It may come as no surprise that the fitness industry is also apparently turning its attention to meat alternatives in an effort to keep up with the growing popularity of veganism.

    Perhaps you have considered a plant-based diet yourself but you aren’t sure where to start.  Or, you have brought up the idea only to be met with resistance from trusted allies in the fitness community.  If so, you’re not alone.

    When I initially contacted high profile coaches to help me prep for my very first competition, some flat out refused to work with me because I am vegan.  I was told I would not be able to step on stage without consuming animal protein. I was told I wouldn’t be competitive. A few coaches never even responded to my messages.

    Marginalized by the fitness industry, I was starting to second guess if I could make it as a natural and vegan competitor.  However, having overcome many obstacles in life, I knew “no” was never the final answer. I refused to accept defeat before I even started my competition journey.

    Long before competing was even on my radar, I followed a “high protein/low carb” diet.  And while I lost weight, the pounds quickly came back as soon as I began eating “carbs” again.  Plus, large amounts of animal protein left me feeling sluggish.

    My reasons for going vegan were initially rooted in health.  After a 2013 surgery, I researched the connection between health and food.  I soon transitioned to veganism and never looked back.

    Plant-based eating has come a long way in the last five years.  Still, it can be confusing navigating the sea of vegan information.  I suggest starting with one meatless day a week and going from there.  

    You definitely do not have to sacrifice size for a plant-based diet.  Thankfully, you have more choices than ever before. Companies like Icon Meals offer vegan options that take the guesswork out of the equation by making sure you meet your protein macros.

    I personally follow macro based nutrition and I have no issues hitting my daily protein goals.

    In a world where tilapia and chicken breasts are king and queen, could tofu and tempeh topple these bodybuilding staples from their throne of tradition?  Only time will tell. But until then, you have plenty of meat-free options to help you reach your fitness aspirations.

    Amy is an OCB Masters Bikini pro.  You can follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/aszutowicz/