So I’ve been cycling off meat and dairy recently. As a byproduct of last year’s experiment with the Slow Carb Diet by Timothy Ferriss, I found myself eating A LOT of meat. I was stuck in a sort of cycle: grill some extra flesh for dinner, eat the leftovers for lunch, supplement with eggs and lentils and fish and beans.
No wonder I felt tired all the time. That’s a lot to digest!
Since I started The Warrior Diet a few months ago, I’ve been experimenting with ways to keep up with the amino acids I need during the day before my big evening meal. Ori Hofmekler suggests protein shakes–preferably minimally processed and free of chemicals and hormones. He prefers whey, but I have some trouble with that due to lactose intolerance. (I know most whey proteins are lactose free, but they still upset my stomach for some reason.)
A Viable Alternative
A while back, a reader referred me to the Vega line of supplements. I planned to try their stuff but never got around to it. The desire to get away from meat and to shift to more of a plant-based diet was calling though, so I finally ponied up the (considerable) coin for these three products. The first I tried was the Whole Food Optimizer. It was okay but really overpowering and grainy. The chai flavor wasn’t bad, but the berry flavor was borderline undrinkable. I felt good drinking it, but I had to double the water to mix it well enough to go down.
The All-In-One Nutritional Shake is so much better! It has about as much natural protein but they thankfully cut way back on the fiber. This shake is vegan, mostly organic, provides optimal nutrition for people who refrain from meat, and it actually tastes good! I drink the vanilla chai flavor after every morning training session. I eat enough fiber and still consume meat a few times a week, so I can get away from the “complete meal solution” provided by the Whole Food Optimizer. A close look at the label shows these two powders are essentially the same blend of pea, hemp, and brown rice protein, along with extra iron and probiotics. A winner!
My new recovery shake is the Vega Sport Performance Protein. I’ve tried a few different shakes including Trader Joe’s soy and MetRx whey, but they’re very heavy and hard to drink after training. This formula is comparably light while still tasting like something kind of unhealthy; think of a nutty chocolate milkshake. Drinking this after my evening training sessions helps tide me over until my big evening meal and keeps me from getting sore. I’ve noticed a big difference in recovery time since I starting drinking this, plus I have improved energy since it’s nice and clean: it’s free of pesticides and hormones and all the bad stuff you find in most animal proteins.
But Wait! There’s More
Liquid protein and meal-replacement options are becoming increasingly mainstream right now. Take a look at this made-up product:
and now this REAL dietary supplement!
As usual, the diet industry has found a fad and will ride it as long as you’ll buy it–or until your health gives out. If you plan to supplement your diet–whether you eat meat or not–consider how the product is sourced. Most companies cram their products full of crap that will only make you sick. They might claim to boost your short-term performance, but I doubt their interest in your long-term health. I like Vega because their stuff is created by pro triathlete and The Thrive Diet author, Brendan Brazier. He knows a little about elite performance and nutrition, about how to lead a healthy lifestyle, and how to eat in a way that supports the planet too!
The one caveat is that Vega is expensive. But if you think of how you can skip a few other, less healthy meals, and how you can lower your carbon footprint (if you’re into that sort of thing), then you might find it worth the cost.
I’ve found some good deals through The Vitamin Shoppe. If you hunt around, you can often get Vega products for up to 50% off. Take a look, try it out, and let us know what you think. If you have other meatless meal alternatives, share them here!