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Jack Fitzgerald Sep 13, 2020 12:00:00 PM 8 min read

Veggie in the Gym

I always like to start the conversation where the other person eats meat by saying “If you like meat then eat it”. That’s not to be rude or dismissive but I’ve found over the years that someone finding out I’m vegetarian triggers a defensive response in them. I just think eating animals is weird if I’m being honest but if that’s your thing, go for it.


I’ve been Vegetarian for 5 years now, which means for 18 years I was not, so I’m not here to judge anyone or tell them to change their diet. If you are plant based or considering it, hopefully this will be helpful and answer some of the same questions I had starting out.


Plenty of options

There are many different labels within the veggie world so starting with the most common:

⁃ Vegetarian: is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat or fish. (Mayo Clinic, 2020)

⁃ Veganism: is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products and attempts to limit the exploitation of animals.

⁃ Plant based: focus on food primarily from plants but allows for meat, fish and dairy.

⁃ Pescatarian: someone who adds fish and seafood to a vegetarian diet.


I generally just use ‘veggie’ as I feel it covers most!


But what about protein?


Starting at what has to be a most common question every person who is veggie gets, “but where do you get your protein from?” This question is actually quite worrisome as that to me sounds like a lot of people think their only source of protein is meat, which of course is not the case.


Eating a varied veggie diet means you really shouldn’t be lacking in protein and if you’re it's down to your nutrition choices and not a lack of steak. A common misconception is once you go veggie you’re automatically healthy, this is not the case. You can still put on unwanted weight and eating high calorie foods low in nutrients.


Vegetarian foods high in protein include tofu, lentils, beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, yogurt, grains, quinoa, the list goes on.




High protein dinners.



Up your cooking game!

Most people grimace when they hear the word tofu or lentils often never having tried it, but I can confirm tofu isn’t bland or boring but maybe the way you’re cooking it is. When I first started eating tofu I had no idea how to cook it but I have learned that spices, herbs and seasoning is key, in the same way a plain grilled chicken breast isn’t exactly exciting.



Variety is key!



A veggie in the gym…

In terms of being a Personal trainer and also being Veggie, I find people are often very interested in it but a bit unsure on how to go about it. I don’t encourage any of my PT’s to ‘go veggie’ but if it’s something they’re interested in I like to think my experience with it is helpful. It doesn’t have to be a blind leap of faith where you completely change your diet in a day and you can always go back to eating meat, so just remembering that takes the pressure off.


Within the fitness world a lack of knowledge around plant based protein is very common. You will often hear of trainers encouraging their clients to start eating meat again, this has happened to me in my younger years and I very nearly did. It’s our jobs as trainers to educate ourselves on our clients needs and suggesting someone to go back eating meat is an easy way out for a trainer who isn’t willing to educate themselves.


Probably the hardest part about any major change to your diet is knowing what to eat and where to get it, so searching for new recipes online and experimenting with new foods is really important. The world we live in today is filled with choice and most ingredients can be found in your local shop.


I have linked some of my favorite veggie dishes below:










- Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/vegetarian-diet/art-20046446