All nutrients essential for optimal health and sports performance can be supplied by a plant based diet with no additional requirements from animal sources. This is quite a contentious statement and in the following series of articles the team and I at SSC will seek to dispel any myths and shed light on points of dispute regarding plant based diets.
Ensuring all nutrient needs are met, consistently, by a plant based diet cannot happen by accident. Just by omitting all animal products and eating more of what you would normally eat outside of them will not usually satisfy all minimal daily amounts. For optimal health a wide variety of plants, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, pulses and fruits need to be consumed regularly. For improved sports performance a properly constructed and strategically managed individualised program must be followed and this program must be periodised to reflect the different demands, certainly in energy requirements, over the year.
In Part 1 of this series on vegan nutrition we look at a selection of nutrients essential for health and performance. The selection is limited to those nutrients that are commonly thought of as being deficient in the vegan diet however evidence suggests these nutrients are also deficient in omnivorous diets as well. With that in mind this article will serve as a useful guide not just to vegan athletes but to flexitarian, vegetarian and omnivorous ones too.