But what I can tell you is a short story of how a vegetarian athlete feels in the paleo dominated Crossfit world.
When my Crossfit adventure started I did not expect that my diet, which is for me something normal, would raise anyone’s interest. But it did. Each time one of my gym’s mate found out I am vegetarian his eyebrows went up and questions began.
The first question was always: why?
Why you do this to yourself when meat is so good? I felt a bit strange each time. Like they were expecting me to start telling stories about animal rights and accusing them of being bad for eating meat. Gosh. I stopped doing that after a month, as I noticed telling people about meatless diet makes them aggressive and less open for discussion.
There are many reasons to quit meat. My primal reason was eating too much of it. I decided to have a three vegetarian months. Three months became six, than a year… I just felt better this way. The fact that my habits are less harmful for the planet is also one of my reasons. With every month of not eating meat I am more convinced that it was a right choice.
I found quite strange that many people still think of vegetarians as of people living on a lettuce leaf. Even some certified instructors are often lacking the basic knowledge about other styles of nutrition. I was often really surprised when people I consider well qualified trainers were asking me how do I lift without a daily steak for breakfast. I had to explain an elementary stuff, differences between vegetarians and vegan and much more.
People are often quite judgemental
People are often quite judgemental over vegetarians and vegans. They stick to stereotypes and like to make jokes, encourage us to eat meat or simply make some stupid comments. (Do not get me wrong – no one ever was rude to me in the places I train.)
Maybe I am not an athlete performing on a professional level, but honestly I do not think that a difference between vege-athlets and meat-athletes exists. The one I can easily think of is the amount of food you need to eat to supply yourself with enough calories. This task can be really hard for vegans who want to eat healthy, whole and unprocessed foods. Imagine eating 5,000 calories per day from plants, having nuts and seeds as the most energetic foods (of course when you decide on vegan fast food, such as fries, is not that hard). On the other hand, vegan athletes are less prone to insufficiency than other non-athletic vegans. They have to eat huge amounts of food, so they easier keep a well-balanced diet with all nutrients needed.
The usual problem I had in almost every gym and Crossfit box was no possibility to have a vegetarian, not mentioning a vegan protein shake. Many protein powders are not vegetarian. Even if they have it, taking it with soya or other plant milk was impossible.
To bring this article to an end, I must say that the toughest thing about being vegetarian and doing Crossfit is answering the same questions all the time and all over again. I actually try not to tell people about the way I eat, as it’s simply easier for me.