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Margo hayes does it. Venus Williams does it. Alex Honnold does it. There are Netflix documentaries telling you to do it. Yes, we’re talking about becoming a vegetarian or a vegan! People go veggie for health, ethical, religious, or environmental reasons. Shaina Savoy, a Las Vegas–based vegan climber and nutrition student, says, “I have always been an animal lover, and I was repelled by meat growing up.” When she gave up animal products 10 years ago, she noticed health benefits: “My digestion improved immensely, my skin and menstrual health improved, and I felt mentally sharp and motivated. I have so much energy for climbing and other activities now.”
Becoming a vegetarian all at once can seem daunting. Here are some tips to ease your way in:
Think of meat as a condiment, not a main dish. Sprinkle shredded chicken or beef crumbles on a grain bowl packed with veggies, rather than having a slab of meat as the focus of your plate.
Go meatless one day a week, or for one meal per day. Replace meat with tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, cheese, or meat substitutes.
Omit one meat category at a time. Try that for a while, then omit another one. For example, give up beef first, then pork, then poultry.
Eat the same dishes that you normally would, sans meat. For example, sandwiches, pasta dishes, grain bowls, and wraps can all be adapted to be vegetarian.
Visit a local restaurant that serves ethnic cuisine or that specializes in vegan or vegetarian dishes. Many cultures have wonderful dishes that don’t involve meat. Explore and experiment.
Transitioning slowly can also give your digestive tract a chance to adapt. Often, the fibrous foods in a vegetarian diet can upset digestion. Take it easy.
So is limiting or eliminating animal products right for you—are you ready to change your Instagram bio to “Vegetarian dirtbag”? First, let’s start with some common terms:
Omnivore: You eat all foods, including animal flesh and animal products.
Pescatarian: The only meat you eat is fish.
Plant-based: Most of your diet comes from plants, though you still eat animal products; aka “flexitarian.”
Vegetarian: You do not consume animal flesh or derivatives (broth from animals, lard, collagen, etc.). Dairy and eggs are allowed.
Vegan: You omit all animal flesh and products, including dairy, eggs, gelatin, honey, etc.
A Gallup poll from 2018 estimated that 5 percent of Americans are vegetarian, and 3 percent are vegan. So, with vegetarianism being more common, we’ll start with what you should know about being a vegetarian climber.
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