Before you ask: Yes, you can go vegan and get jacked. No, you won’t starve. And obviously there are plenty of delicious recipes that’ll keep you sated.
You’re excluding animal products—including meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, fish, even honey—and in its place focusing on vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and fats. Of course having a more limited diet means you need to make conscious decisions about what you eat to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to build and maintain muscle and stay healthy.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you do choose to go vegan:
- Make sure to include a wide variety of food groups at each meal.
- Choose plant-based proteins, including quinoa, nut butters, and tofu. These protein-filled foods also contain branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), which help promote protein synthesis in muscles and reduce exercise-induced muscle damage.
- Include omega-3 fats, such as olive oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
There are several nutrients that vegans have trouble getting enough of, such as calcium, vitamin D, iron, and zinc. Here are vegan sources of each:
- Calcium: Leafy greens (like kale and spinach), calcium-fortified juice, almonds, and fortified-milk alternatives
- Vitamin D: See your doctor as a supplement may be needed for long-term vegans
- Iron: Leafy greens, fortified oatmeal, tofu, and beans
- Zinc: Beans, lentils, peas, whole grains, and nuts.
Here are 10 easy-to-make vegan recipes that contain a variety of crucial nutrients and loads of protein to help build and maintain healthy muscles.