Ever since my high school days I’ve eaten a fairly substantial breakfast high in complex carbohydrates. This morning’s breakfast, following an eight-mile run, was fairly typical. It consisted of a large bowl of oatmeal topped with flaxseed meal, several servings of fruit, a slice of 100% whole grain toast with extra virgin olive oil and salt, and a glass of soymilk. I like to prepare the oatmeal in the microwave using old-fashioned rolled oats, plenty of water, and salt to taste. I also add a small amount of oat bran to give the oatmeal a creamier consistency. Using a coffee grinder, I make the flaxseed meal from whole flaxseeds, preparing enough to last me for a couple weeks, then storing it in the freezer.
Nutritionally, the meal provides ample soluble and insoluble fiber, essential amino acids, healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids, an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, including calcium from the flaxseed meal and fortified soymilk. The meal is rich in potassium, which is a mineral many people don’t get enough of. If I had taken this photo two years ago, it would have included a glass of orange juice. Since then I’ve mostly moved away from juice, preferring to eat more whole fruits instead.
“The meal is rich in potassium, which is a mineral many people don’t get enough of.”
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an inherently conservative professional organization previously known as the American Dietetic Association, has stated in a position paper: “… appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
While I view veganism as a moral and political commitment necessary for living in accordance with the simple principle of not imposing unnecessary pain, suffering, and death on animals, I also appreciate the many health, athletic performance, and ecological benefits of eating a diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and mushrooms.
“… I view veganism as a moral and political commitment necessary for living in accordance with the simple principle of not imposing unnecessary pain, suffering, and death on animals …”
A wealth of studies show lower rates of major diseases in vegans compared to subjects who eat animals. Cancers, strokes, heart disease, and inflammation have all been linked to diets high in meat and other animal products. I remain free of the frequent aches and pains, expanding waistlines, arthritis, rising blood pressure, and unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, so many people my age are dealing with.
Much of my sustained energy level and quick post-workout recovery times, I attribute to my diet. It’s rich in unprocessed starches and other digestible carbohydrates that are easily converted into the liver and muscle glycogen that helps fuel my running and other daily physical activities.
Lastly, animal agriculture is devastating to the environment. Bringing animal-based foods to market requires far more water, and results in far more greenhouse gas emissions and pollution of our waterways, compared to the production of equivalent quantities of plant-based foods.