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Can you perform well on a meat -free diet?



Eating less meat is one of the fastest-growing lifestyle trends. Four in 10 of us have either cut out meat or have cut down, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Eat Better. The number of vegans has risen by more than 350 per cent since 2006 and at least half a million people are now following a vegan diet.

Interestingly, this trend away from meat isn’t just about health – although there is compelling evidence that vegetarian diets are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and increased longevity. For many people, it’s more about reducing their environmental footprint. Ditching meat can cut your carbon footprint by up to 50 per cent, which (if enough of us got on board) could go a long way towards solving the global problem of scarce environmental resources and global warming. A vegetarian or vegan diet requires far less energy, land, pesticides, fertiliser, fuel, feed and water than a meat-based diet, and does less environmental damage, which makes it unquestionably more sustainable.

There are now real fears that, if current trends in meat consumption continue, we will not be able to feed the world’s expanding population. Livestock agriculture is grossly inefficient and requires five to 10 times more land than arable agriculture. If we ate less meat, we could free up about 640 million hectares of land currently dedicated to growing animal feed. And that would go a long way to sustainably feeding everyone.

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About Women’s Running

It’s a strange thing, our relationship with food. We tuck into our favourite snacks and meals to reward ourselves, cheer ourselves up and celebrate special occasions. Mealtimes can be something to look forward to after a tough day or training session, an opportunity to share quality time with loved ones. For me, food is associated with homeliness and family, but also with health and wellbeing. Fuelling my body nutritiously gives me enormous satisfaction – it gives me a feeling of control, knowing I’m supporting my health and my running. But because of such emotional associations, our relationship with food can become very complex. And, in some cases, even detrimental to health. Over the coming pages, we look at a number of topics surrounding nutrition. From the highly emotive issue of eating disorders (page 30), to the growing trend of going meat-free (page 62), we give you the facts to help you make sense of how your diet impacts your training and heath – mental and physical. If you are moving to a vegetarian or vegan diet, you’ll find heaps of expert advice on everything from getting the right protein intake to vitamin and mineral deficiencies – and even a seven-day, meat-free meal planner (page 69). Of course, there’s lots of non-food content, too, including one feature guaranteed to get you out the door, even for just 15 minutes (page 44).