Some people have found that animal meat and byproducts don’t fit their lifestyle, whether it is for spiritual, health, or other reasons. They remove these products from their life, and find better health or happiness as a result. Some are known as ‘vegetarians’, and choose not to eat meat, but will often consume dairy products and other animal byproducts. Others, known as ‘vegans’, choose not to eat any foods in which an animal has been consumed in any way. They do not eat dairy, and many even abstain from whey products.
Bodybuilding is known for its rigorous physical demands and enormous meat consumption. What happens when a bodybuilder determines that a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is right for him/her? How should he make the transition? Are there any long-term pitfalls of which he should be aware?
Make the change gradually
If you’ve been consuming two pounds of meat and 4 protein shake a day, changing over to a meatless diet overnight will be have a tremendous negative impact on your body. Remove meat slowly, perhaps scaling down to fish only for a week. Then remove whey protein, if going completely vegan. Take two to four weeks to make the complete transition.
The numbers matter
Count the calories. Watch the macronutrients. If your caloric intake drops off by 1000 calories per day, you will lose muscle. Likewise, if your protein intake drops from 350 grams to 50 grams per day, you will lose muscle. Track your numbers as you substitute soy and other products to ensure you stay consistent to keep your muscle.
Take your vitamins
Consult with your doctor and take all required supplements to ensure you don’t miss out on any vital vitamins and minerals. Be sure you supplement your diet with adequate B12, Calcium, Iodine, and others. Watch for any health side effects over the coming weeks, and be prepared for setbacks if your health falters due to a nutrient deficit.