The vegetarian market is booming, and we’re not missing out. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of us who reported eating mostly or completely vegetarian diets rose from 1.7 million to almost 2.1 million, according to Roy Morgan Research. Meanwhile, Australia’s the fastest growing vegan market in the world (in 2016, we even Googled ‘vegan’ more than anywhere else).
With this rising interest has come a new middle-ground movement – being flexitarian. Championed by Sumo Salad with its #ThisIsHowIFlex campaign, it’s all about cutting back on meat rather than cutting out; adding more vegies to your plate; mixing things up with plant-based as well as animal proteins. In short, being flexitarian comes down to variety, balance and what feels right for your body.
Intrigued and after some inspiration? Two vegan athletes share the plant-based menus that fuel their fitness. Meat-free Monday, here we come.
Khadi Ishtar Wolf-Brooke (@khadiishtar), 26, yoga instructor and former elite ballerina
“My current training is my own daily yoga practice (hot power, vinyasa flow and yin), cycling to and from teaching, plus other outdoor cardio and some body-weight strength training here and there. I’ve always been vegan, and have regular blood tests to check my iron, B12 levels, and so on – I’ve never had any problems with those or getting enough protein from plant sources alone.”
First thing: I start with 1/4 cup kombucha, and sometimes a freshly squeezed orange, tangelo, lemon or mandarin juice.
Breakfast: Oat groats or buckwheat cooked in coconut water with fruit (berries and banana or pear/papaya/passion fruit) and coconut yogurt. Sometimes I'll pre-soak the oat groats or buckwheat with chia seeds for chia porridge.
Snacks: Fruit or vegetable sticks with oil-free hummus.
Lunch: Usually leftovers, or homemade sushi – brown or black rice, filled with cooked sweet potato, cucumber, capsicum and avocado.
Dinner: I’ll have a cold, steamed or roast veg salad. So, plenty of colourful vegies and vegan protein (tofu or beans; I love black beans and lentils) with baby spinach, salad, coriander and other fresh herbs. This is served with a tahini dressing – mix hot water with tahini, lemon/lime, dried herbs, spices like smoked paprika, pepper corns and nutritional yeast flakes. Other meals I love? Rice noodle salad, soup, curries, wraps and stews.
Dessert: Treats such as vegan chocolate, coconut ice cream and custard.
Monique Hendy, 24, endurance obstacle athlete
“Prep for obstacle races includes strength, endurance and mobility training. I aim for a 5-10km run each week, with a 20km road or trail run once a fortnight. Strength training varies from traditional weight lifting to obstacle practice in my gym. Ahead of an endurance race, I bolster my routine with several extended boot camps – between five and 10 hours. I fuel myself for these with things like banana sandwiches, plenty of water, coffee, pre-workout supplement, coconut water, salt tablets and Clif energy bars."
First thing: I wake up, and start my morning with either a coffee or warm water with lemon.
Breakfast: Toast with avocado, mushroom and wilted greens, plus a soy flat white if I haven’t had one already that morning.
Snack: A mix of berries, apple or banana depending on the day.
Lunch: I’ve just started using the service Soulara, which delivers vegan meals, so for lunch I enjoy anything from raw pad Thai to minestrone soup.
Snack: Fruit or crackers with dip, avocado or tomato and basil.
Dinner: Something like rice, tofu and veg, a stir-fry or bake. Sweet potato and mushrooms are by far my favourite foods. Recently I made beetroot pancakes, which turned out bright pink – a hit with my daughter! They’re a great snack option. Use 1 cup of flour, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tbs sugar, 1 cup soy milk, 2 tbs coconut oil and 1 tbs organic beetroot powder. Yum.