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Old 01-02-2006, 02:45 PM   #1
Michael Forge
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This is my first week of CrossFit, and I've found the workouts to be both the most challenging AND enjoyable I've ever encountered.

I've noticed that a high-protein "paleo" menu seems to be the diet of choice around here, and I've read several message threads in which a vegetarian diet is cast off as performance limiting and inferior. I see that some dedicated vegetarians have even rationalized eating animals again because of this.

Well, I'm here to prove the doubting carnivores among you wrong. I've been a strict vegetarian for 20 years (nothing to do with health or performance, I just don't want to kill animals), and I'm going to make it my mission to prove that elite fitness can be achieved on a vegetarian diet.

Granted, my performances so far aren't likely to turn any carnivorous heads, but I've only been at this for a week now. I invite you to follow my progress through my WOD posts as I get up to speed.

Please note, I'm in NO WAY trying to convince anyone to become a vegetarian here. It's an entirely personal choice, and I'm definitely not questioning or criticizing anyone who chooses otherwise. I just want to prove a vegetarian diet is no barrier to excelling with Crossfit.

I should also note that I am 39 years old with two young children and a full-time job that, unfortunately, involves sitting on my *** most of the day. I point this out not to excuse any performance shortcomings, but merely to make sure we're comparing apples to hamburgers here. If my performance lags a bit behind that of a 22-year-old Marine in Baghdad, it may not be just because he had steak for dinner last night!

But, I promise, my performances will be competitive. If not, I'll eat my words, if not a blood-rare porterhouse.
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Old 01-02-2006, 02:58 PM   #2
Greg Battaglia
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That's cool, crossfit is awesome. I'm in the same boat as you, but only the opposite end. I don't totally agree with the paleo approach and most of calories come from animal protein and fat, with a good bit of veggies. Vegetarianism really isn't optimal and I think CAN leave you with some health problems. Nevertheless, I think the human body is extremely adaptable to different diets and if correctly mamanged a vegetarian diet can work. You do well on no meat, and I do well on mostly meat, so the adaptability becomes pretty apparent. I don't think you need to prove that a vegetarian diet can produce an extremely strong and fit person, because someone has already done that for you! Mike Mahler is a vegan, and is a complete animal. The dude is ripped, strong, and has insane endurance. I suggest you read some of his stuff if you're looking for the correct way to implement a vegetarian diet for performance. (www.mikemahler.com) Other than that, I congratulate your commitment to crossfit and wish you good luck in your pursuits. Keep us informed of your progress.
Greg
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Old 01-02-2006, 03:54 PM   #3
Michael Forge
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Thanks, Greg. I agree with all of your comments. There probably is no such thing as an OPTIMAL diet for everyone. And, truth be told, I would love to supplement my diet with some fish and chicken protein if moral concerns weren't an issue for me. Having been very devoted to fitness and vegetarianism for 20 years now, I know A LOT about vegetarian nutrition, but I'll definitely check out Mike Mahler's site to see if I can learn anything new.
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Old 01-02-2006, 04:03 PM   #4
Theron Mathis
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Michael,

Please keep posting your results. Other ideas are always helpful. I love the Zone but there are times that I can't do it, and have to go vegan such as Lent and Advent. It would be nice to see a performance based vegan approach that does not rely heavily on soy.

Welcome aboard.
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Old 01-02-2006, 04:18 PM   #5
Greg Battaglia
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Yeah, that is definitely where Mike Mahler comes in. He doesn't use much soy and agrees that it's probably not the healthiest thing around. From what I've read, he gets most of his protein from nuts and rice protein powders. I would go with what he recommends, he knows his stuff.
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Old 01-02-2006, 04:27 PM   #6
Michael Forge
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I will definitely post my (hopefully ever-improving!) results. As I have no moral issue with dairy products and eggs from animals (I try to stick with free-range, organic sources), I get most of my protein there. I almost never have soy.
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Old 01-02-2006, 04:47 PM   #7
Lincoln Brigham
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Michael, it's the strict vegan diets that will raise the most ire. A lacto-ovo vegetarian diet like yours should have no problems getting up to max performance.

signed,
Killer of Many Chickens
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Old 01-02-2006, 04:49 PM   #8
Clay Jones
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Michael, welcome to CrossFit.

I think your reason for being a vegetarian is excellent and logical. Do you "do" dairy? The reason I ask is, I quit doing dairy and noticed an immediate improvement in my health and performance. Am wondering what your experience has been. Plese keep us posted on your results!
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Old 01-02-2006, 05:27 PM   #9
Matthew Townsend
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Excellent stuff Michael, I'll follow your progress with interest. Perhaps keep on posting them on this thread to make it easier to see where your at.

I'm virtually identical to you, 39, desk bound professionally and have two young kids to look after.

What's your weight and b/f? Mine's 78 and about 10%.

I too, am responsible for the death of many chickens, but philosophically, I'm with you. I would prefer to not kill animals, but when it comes down to it, I believe that eating lean protein improves my health and fitness.

I would be happy to be proved wrong.
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Old 01-02-2006, 06:05 PM   #10
Michael Forge
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Lincoln, love that signature!

Clay, I've experimented with going dairy-free before, but have never found it to be worth the sacrafice. While I did notice some physiological differences (primarily a reduction in mucus and gas), I found it very difficult to get enough protein, and I just plain missed it (I love milk!). Still, I have no doubt it could be done if one was truly committed to it. As I said, I don't have any moral problem with receiving milk from cows in exchange for what should be a good life for them (although I'm painfully aware that this is more often than not the case).

Matt, right now, I'm 5'8", 172 lbs., 8% body fat. I thought I was in excellent shape until I started attempting the Crossfit WODs! I stopped eating fish and chicken when I was 20, and I've definitely found it more difficult to maintain optimum fitness ever since. But, overall, I'm very healthy and fit, and I just can't justify going back to eating those animals just to make it easier for me to be more fit. Again, I completely understand those who don't feel the same (my wife eats enough animals to make up for all those I spare and then some). It's just what I feel morally comfortable with.
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