Feb 10, 2017
Vegetarian Fueling
Lisa Dorfman

When most people think of an optimal diet for athletic performance, they imagine covering all corners of the food pyramid. After all, that’s the best way to ensure an athlete gets the carbohydrates, protein, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals they need to fuel their engine and promote muscle growth, right? The fact is, vegetarian athletes often can and do meet all their nutritional needs despite limiting the use of animal products or eliminating them altogether.

There are many reasons why someone chooses to become a vegetarian. It may be rooted in religious beliefs, animal rights concerns, environmental consciousness, economics, health, or simply not liking the taste of meat. Whatever the motivation, vegetarians who know how to adapt their diet to the demands of athletic performance enjoy much upside and practically no downside.

Here is a sample meal plan for lacto-ovo vegetarian athletes that provide an adequate supply of energy, carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat along with vitamins and minerals and a broad spectrum of amino acids.


Omelet with veggies and shredded cheese or soy cheese

1 orange

1 whole-grain bagel with peanut butter


Pretzel and a cheese stick


1 bowl of bean soup with whole-grain crackers

Pizza with veggies and cheese

1 banana


1 apple

Homemade trail mix (1/4 cup almonds + ¼ cup raisins + ½ oat squares)


Salad greens

BBQ seitan “beef” skewers

1 baked sweet potato with brown sugar

Yogurt parfait with granola and

mixed berries


Hot chocolate made with milk or rice milk

Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, aka The Running Nutritionist®, is a leader to industry the public and the press for more than two decades. She is personal nutritionist for hundreds of high school athletes and teams; dozens of professional athletes, including those in the NFL, MLB, PGA, USTA, US Boxing, USA Taekwondo, and was the US Sailing Olympic and Paralympics Team Nutritionist for the 2008 Olympics.

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