MY FITNESS PAL—Muscles aren’t just for meat eaters. Vegetarians and vegans can also build muscle mass and strength without sacrificing performance. If you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve selected a few recipes from the new nutrition guidebook, “The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes for Active Living,” written by lifelong vegetarian, registered nutritionist and former British bodybuilding champion Anita Bean.
“More and more people are cutting meat and adopting a ‘flexitarian’ eating pattern with fewer animal products and more plant foods for health, ethical or environmental reasons,” says Bean, who has written 27 books on nutrition and fitness, including the best-selling book, “The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition,” now in its eighth edition.
“Large-scale studies have shown that a vegetarian diet has numerous health benefits, including a longer life span, less cardiovascular disease risk and a lower risk of certain cancers, Type 2 diabetes and obesity,” she says. “I also wanted to dispel the popular myths about vegetarian diets, namely that they are low in protein and cannot support top-level performance. There are plenty of examples of world-class athletes who are vegetarian or vegan. There are also many studies that show that a vegetarian diet can benefit health as well as performance.”
While eating more vegetables daily isn’t a hard sell — we all generally agree that is a must — finding ways to add more fresh produce to your diet can be tricky. Here’s where Bean offers a solution: “All the recipes [in this cookbook] are easy and quick to make. You don’t need to be an experienced cook to manage them! My recipes make use of everyday foods that are inexpensive and widely available in stores. The recipes are designed with the specific nutritional needs of active people in mind. So, there’s a focus on protein, iron, omega-3s and calcium, and nutrients that assist with energy production, muscle recovery and healthy immune function.”
Below, Bean shares five favorite recipes from her new book, and explains the nutritional benefits of each delicious dish. All main meals, excluding desserts, offer approximately 20 grams of protein or more per serving.