If you believe the hype, the entire world is going vegan. And who can blame them? Movies like The Game Changers tell us that quitting meat and other animal products will help us live longer, jump higher and perform better than we ever have.
If you haven’t seen it, you’ve almost certainly heard of it. It’s a Hollywood-quality film produced by Oscar winner James Cameron and it’s easy to get sucked right in by the slick editing of all those high-performing vegans.
But just like Cameron’s other films, like Titanic and Avatar, this one is also best taken with a grain of salt as you attempt to separate fact from fiction.
Take Arnold Schwarzenegger, who pops up talking about the benefits of an all-green diet. This is Mr Universe, after all, and Arnie didn’t get that big eating kale.
In fact, he would have chewed his way through Old MacDonald’s entire farm, and then some, when preparing for a competition in his hey day. Adding to the plot is Cameron’s reported $ 140 million dollar financial interest in a vegan protein business.
Now I have to disclose here that I’m not a vegan, or a vegetarian. In fact, I consider myself a nutrivore, in that I eat for nutrition above all else.
Look, if you want to cut out all animal products I respect your choice. But there are some things you need to be aware of. Not least of which is the fact that you’re not going to become an Olympian by cutting out bacon.
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Yes, if you stop eating hamburgers and sausages and fast food, you will feel better. Yes, we all should be eating more green stuff. With eight out of 10 Australians not consuming the daily recommended five servings of vegetables in their diet, anything that gives us more of the good stuff is a great thing.
No matter your diet, remember that more than half your plate should consist of plants, and meat should make up a much smaller proportion.
Think of meat as a garnish, rather than main event, and replace it with vegetables, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you in no time.
Diets, like most things in life, are about moderation and balance, not exclusion. No matter how much movies like The Gamer Changers try to convince you otherwise.
FAST FACTS ON STARTING A VEGAN DIET
1. Vitamins are vital
Get blood work done regularly. The challenge is that you’re excluding a lot of foods, and so there’s a chance you’ll face deficiencies. Check things like your B12, iron, zinc and magnesium levels, and introduce supplements if you’re lacking in any of them.
2. Watch the carbs
A lot of vegan-style diets tend to focus on the easiest foods, which are also often the unhealthiest. Things like hot chips, falafel, white rice, pastas, breads might all be vegan, but they’re not nutritious and won’t help you lose weight.
3. Fling the fake meats
Fill your diet with proper fruits and vegetables, not the fake meats that are booming around the world at the moment. They can be full of salt, processed sugars, chemicals and preservatives, and they’re bloody expensive, too.
Question: How do people find the time for all this healthy cooking? I find I’m home exhausted most nights with no energy to cook up a five-star healthy meal — what’s the secret?
Answer: One of the most common reasons people fall off the diet bandwagon is that they simply don’t have the time or energy to prepare a healthy meal. Meal prepping takes the effort out of healthy eating. Simply prepare meals in bulk on a Saturday or Sunday, pop them in the fridge or freezer, and you’re sorted for a week’s worth of healthy eating.
* Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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