T Nation

Vegetarianism

Hippies, brachiosaur, and women come to mind with such a word, and now, my family.

A call back home revealed to me that my dear mother and brother have a read an IN YOUR FACE book about weight loss. (Skinny Bitch)

The first chapter tells you to quit drinking coffee, coke, alcohol, smoking, and to do some kind of exercise. Fantastic advise. The rest of the book is about why you should stop eating meat.

“Forget counting carbs, adding calories, and multiplying fat grams. Just read the ingredients. It doesn’t matter how many calories or carbs or fat grams something has. It just doesn’t matter…Just read the ingredients. If they are healthy, wholesome, and pure- dive in.”

Then it talks about the injustices of the USDA, FDA, and EPA (which is worth a read).

The bottom line, however, is vegetarianism. It comes with the “you only need 18-60 grams a day”, “your in danger of eating too much protein”,“eat lentils, beans, and nuts for your protein” lines. No dairy, no meat.

Well, I told my mother and brother I didn’t like they idea. They know I read a lot about this kind of stuff, and asked me if I could look into some of the possible problems.

The on-the-spot refute I gave them is that there are “a lot of people” who loose weight by eating low carb, high protein diets, which include these mad cows and pasteurized milk.

I am happy that they are being so conscious of what they eat,(and they are also lifting heavy), but I sure don’t like the idea of eating like a panda, when you can afford organic meats.

I need counsel, and sources. This is a bad idea, right?

Reread your post and tell me why you would ever take or consider thier advice?

How the hell do you lift heavy with 18-60 grams protein a day?

i’m mostly a vegetarian, only eat meat when i have to and there’s nothing else with protein around…i still eat dairy and egg products and i’ve been able to pack on alot of size…

do i think that cutting out meat is the right thing to do for some one new to lifting and looking to drop some weight? i think that removing most refined sugars and flours and replacing them with vegetables and fruits, along with switching to more leaner meats will give them better results and a better body…

I don’t necessarily think vegetarianism is a bad diet, particularly if the alternative is the kind of diet that a typical american actually eats. There is a lot of evidence that–compared to the average american–vegetarians have lower mortality and rates of disease from most metabolic disorders.

On the other hand, causality is difficult to decipher. Vegetarians are probably more likely than average to actually like vegetables. So…are they healthy because they DON’T eat meat, or because they DO eat veggies? It is hard to know. They’re probably also more likely than average to take care of themselves in other ways, such as maintaining a healthy weight and exercising.

I wouldn’t worry a lot about protein needs, unless they are athletes. I think human protein needs are very much an open question. There is some research on macronutrient profiles that seems to show that high protein dieters have better cholesterol and blood pressure numbers than high carb dieters, however there is also research showing not much effect. My best guess is that most people in first-world countries are not in danger of a protein deficiency. If they’re eating beans and nuts they’re probably fine.

My concerns with a vegetarian diet would be twofold:

  1. essential fatty acids. If you don’t eat fish, it’s probably wise to supplement with fish oil or at least flax oil. The health benefits of fish are legion. Also, including low fat dairy products is a good way to get protein and potassium in a diet otherwise high in plant foods.
  2. sugary, starchy carbs. Being vegetarian alone does not make something healthy. If you eat lots of sugar, and potatoes and processed bread, you’ll still get fat and have high high cholestrol even if there are no animal products in there. I think you DO have to watch what kind of carbohydrates you eat, even if you’re a vegetarian. It’s not a license to pig out on Wonderbread. I would worry that vegetarian who wasn’t eating much protein or fat from animal sources would make up the discrepancy by eating things like bread and potatoes, which is not a net benefit.

Here are some good books that have influenced my thinking on nutrition, that you might recommend to them.

  1. The Paleo Diet – Loren Cordain
  2. Eating Well for Optimum Health – Andrew Weil
  3. The Protein Power Diet – M&MD Eades
  4. The Omega Diet – a greek author whose name I don’t remember. Artemis something.

I also tend to like most of what I hear from John Berardi on this site. Although I haven’t read his books, I plan to. He makes sensible recommendations like eating complete protein and veggies with every meal, and consuming carbs at times of high insulin-sensistivity, like early in the morning or immediately following workouts. His Seven Habits of Highly Effective nutrion programs is a good article.

I’m not an expert by any means, I’m just a guy with a family history of things like heart disease and stroke, who has spent a lot of time reading about nutrition to try and assess what a healthy diet should look like. Probably others on this site know a lot more than I do.

I’ve simply tried to read what’s out there and look for the common threads that experts tend to agree on.

The only really firm position I have is that people who advocate excessive carbohydrate consumption are wrong. The evidence on this point has gotten so increasingly clear over the last 10 years, I don’t understand why there is still so much support for a grain based diet.

Here are the rules I eat by. Not saying that they are right, just saying that they are my best guess at present

  1. Lots of fruits and veggies
  2. Lots of fish and lean poultry
  3. Liberal use of olive oil and flax oil
  4. Nuts, berries, and nut butters
  5. Occasional soy
  6. Occasional oatmeal or sprouted grain breads

Things I try to avoid:
processed breads, pasta, sweets, potatoes, white rice, fatty cuts of meat, vegetable oils, any hydrogenated fats, corn syrup, and any other ingredient I don’t recognize as coming directly from a plant or animal.

I would encourage them to add fish and yogurt, and I wouldn’t worry too much about the rest of their diet unless they’re pigging out on the fettucine.

I think black coffee and red wine are not harmful in moderation.

It didn’t occur to me until after writing that post that you might not be worried about their health–instead, they might be forcing you to go on their diet too and so you were worried about your progress.

In either case, I would check out the sources I listed above. They will give you some “animal products are not all bad” ammunition.

Secondly, you can tell them that for athletes, 0.5 to 0.6 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day is about the bare minimum I’ve seen any credible sports nutritionist recommend.
Although I admit, this is an area where I’ve not read any of the research myself.

I’m kindof baffled that they read one book and were so quick to believe that its recommendations were correct. Particularly when so many of those suggestions are quite controversial.

There was also a recent T-Nation article on Soy that you might want to look up. It can be a decent food every now and then, but I wouldn’t make it a dietary staple.

One of the biggest and stronger guys at my gym is a vegetarian, has been his whole life. I think he drinks some milk, but not a ton.

Meat is a tremendously convenient and tasty way to get protein, and there are plenty of other good reasons to eat meat. But, I think, on average, people eat too much meat and not enough Veggies.

I think we can all stand to eat more veggies, and I think they should probably make up a majority of our diet, but I still cook myself a steak 3 or 4 times a week(with chicken and ground beef filling many other meals)

Vegetarianism is not a bad choice of diet considering what’s up with our food nowadays. But if you have access to raw organic milk, grass fed organic meats and whatnot then thats a good choice too.

Personally I have no problem with vegetarianism if you can manage to get in enough saturated fat, although you will find that you’re missing some important nutrients over time, especially some amino acids.

According to what I have studied in my program, A vegetarian diet would be fine, as long as it is wholesome and grains are kept to a bare minimum and kept to organic/sprouted. However a high fat high protein diet would be optimal too, again as long as everything is organic/grass fed etc. and depends on what you have available.

Thats when we reach the conclusion that raw milk and organic grassfed meats ARE more difficult to obtain. Therefore vegetarian is an easier route to go, as long as you use supplementation to cover up you deficiencies.

You can still get pretty big on vegetarian diets, just keep away from 99% of soy and the other processed garbage.

[quote]Malevolence wrote:
One of the biggest and stronger guys at my gym is a vegetarian, has been his whole life. I think he drinks some milk, but not a ton.

Meat is a tremendously convenient and tasty way to get protein, and there are plenty of other good reasons to eat meat. But, I think, on average, people eat too much meat and not enough Veggies.

I think we can all stand to eat more veggies, and I think they should probably make up a majority of our diet, but I still cook myself a steak 3 or 4 times a week(with chicken and ground beef filling many other meals)
[/quote]

You wouldn’t have to eat as much veggies if your meat was grass-fed and pasture-raised… or wild. The majority of nomadic and meat-eating cultures living in deserts etc. would selectively prefer animals who ate a wider variety of grasses, as they themselves didn’t have much access to green vegetables.

Wow. i personally don’t have enough info to comment on this subject but i would just like to say that threads like these are my favorite of all to read. Nothing but incredible information. especially on controversial subjects like a vegetarian diet. big ups to you guys

Bill Pearl was a vegetarian (a lacto-ovo vegetarian).

Firstly, n3wb. If anyone requires a reread I would have to point to you.

I am a collegiate offensive linemen, certainly not D1, but no lightweight. I can’t imagine keeping my weight up on a vegetarian diet(though Art Still did it). I think there is a large difference, however, between my almost-60-year-old mother, with chronic back problems, and I.

Lifting heavy is not always a 300lb clean.

Anyway, what I was looking for were some fast and hard facts that would shoot down this diet because I am not very comfortable with the idea. Though what I am comfortable with is not always the best thing for everyone. At the least I wanted some advice about how the diet should be treated, which is what I got.

Thank you everyone who has posted, or is yet to post, for the thought and time. Thanks especially to Jebs for the very concise list of books and advices (which I will most certainly act upon by relaying).

And to put some minds at ease, they are not munching down the wonder bread and Very Vanilla Soy Milk. Wild Oats is where the shopping is getting done. Don’t you worry about how this will directly affect my eating, it just means I get all the organic steak and salmon I want when I visit.

I know some 250lb vegans with respectable 1300lb+ totals.

[quote]ninearms wrote:
I know some 250lb vegans with respectable 1300lb+ totals. [/quote]

Really? What is a vegan allowed to eat again?

[quote]redrum wrote:
ninearms wrote:
I know some 250lb vegans with respectable 1300lb+ totals.

Really? What is a vegan allowed to eat again?[/quote]

Anything that doesn’t come from an animal.

Mike Mahler said that it is possible to accomplish your goals (not optimal for it though since it gets more dofficult) using a vegetarian diet IF you consume enough calories, enough protein, EFA’s and saturated fat (coconut milk i guess for vegans). The more you restrict your diet the more difficult (not impossible) it becomes to satisfy those requirements. If you want to consume 3000 calories with 250-300g protein a day, it os easiest with minimum restriction and very difficult on a vegan diet but doable if you have the drive. Just my .02

I don’t eat meat a lot , I just don’t have the time to buy and prepare quality meat.

I mostly have whey and cottage cheese for protein.

p.s
I don’t think you need any more then 2 grams of ptorein per KG in your body for some 1.6 can do it.

Some soy motation that has Methoxy-7 instead of whatever thoose two other isoflavones were =\

[quote]Fulmen wrote:
Bill Pearl was a vegetarian (a lacto-ovo vegetarian).[/quote]

True, but he didn’t quit meat until after having won the Mr. Universe in 1970 (or was it '71?)

He became a vegetarian at 39, I believe.

Well I will tell why its a bad idea. Ready?

Meat tastes amazing! Why give up something that tastes so good?

Truthfully, I am in the belief that you are really missing out if you limit what you eat. We are omnivores and we should sample all the fruits, vegetables and meats of the rainbow. It is possible to get strong being a vegetarian and even a vegan but, it all depends on what you want to do.