Article by Ruth McKean, Sports Nutritionist

Nutrient Concerns for Vegetarian Athletes

Vegetarian and vegan diets are now common in the UK. People choose to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet for a variety of reasons such as cultural, moral or health reasons. In athletes the reason may include meeting increased carbohydrate needs or to assist in weight control.

A nutritionally sound vegetarian or vegan diet is possible IF enough energy is consumed from a WIDE variety of foods. However, an athlete who consumes a poorly planned vegetarian diet may be at risk from nutritional deficiencies as well as poor physical performance.

Definitions

Semi-vegetarian diet exludes some but not all groups of animal derived products (for example those who avoid meat but not fish).

Vegan / strict vegetarian diet excludes all animal derived foods including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. An athlete, without consultation from a dietician, should not attempt a vegan diet, especially young children & adolescents as this could have health risks.

Specific Information

Useful Web Links
VegSoc Vegetarian Society website providing a variety of useful information from recipes to info. for new vegetarians.
IVU International Vegetarian Union - information from across the world and the option to join the Union.
VRG Vegetarian Resource Group - for the vegan and vegetarian. Recipes, restaurant information, nutrition information and more.
Vegan Chef Recipes and information for vegetarians and vegans.

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