As a weightlifter, one thing I have never been concerned about is consuming enough protein or calories as a plant-based eater. There is a common misconception that it is difficult to consume enough food containing enough protein to gain significant amounts of muscle, but I’m living proof that this simply isn’t true. I have never been as strong as I am now after being vegan for two years. I am leaner, stronger and generally healthier and I can honestly say that I’ll never look back! If you feel like you are struggling to meet your goals, give veganism a go. You have nothing to lose and potentially so much to gain! Throughout the day I consume around 3000 calories and 160 grams of protein. Hopefully this full day of eating will show how simple it is. 6:30am - Breakfast - Vanilla and Banana Protein Oats I always like to start my day with a nice boost of protein and some essential nutrients! I combine 50g of oats with 150ml of pea protein milk, one scoop of vegan vanilla protein powder and a teaspoon of chia seeds. Microwave on full heat for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through, and enjoy the perfect breakfast! I always set aside enough time to make sure I’m not rushing my breakfast, so I enjoy it with a cup of green tea and a health supplement. Although plant-based diets are naturally nutrient dense, I like to top it up to make sure my mind and body are always working to the best of their ability. 7:30am - Pre-Workout - Peanut Butter Bagel I always prioritise a meal high in carbohydrates and healthy fats before my workout for an extra bit of energy. Something quick and easy is a toasted bagel with 2 tbsp peanut butter. It doesn’t take long to eat making it perfect for busy mornings. If your calorie goal is slightly lower, try bagel thins. They have around 120 calories compared to around 250 calories in a normal bagel. It will satisfy your hunger and still make a great pre-workout snack. Just make sure to check the ingredients as sometimes bagel Recipes will include eggs or milk (although it's rare). 10am - Post-Workout - Protein Shake with Pea Protein Milk I tend to workout before work, shower at the gym and then have my protein shake as I settle in at work for the day. I’ll combine a scoop of vegan protein powder with 250ml of pea protein milk, give it a good shake and it’s good to go! Pea protein milk is my favourite plant-based milk. It has 8 grams of protein in a 250ml glass so is the perfect way to increase your protein intake. 12pm - Lunch - Tofu and Edamame Poke Bowl For lunches in the week, I need something that is easy to meal prep in advance and will keep well out of the fridge for a couple of hours. So, I usually go for a poke bowl filled with egg noodles, sliced avocado, tomatoes, spring onion, marinated tofu and edamame beans topped with sriracha sauce and sesame seeds. I personally think that tofu can be very bland, so I’m not shy when it comes to seasoning! I use garlic and ginger paste, soy sauce, chilli powder, sesame oil, maple syrup and smoked paprika. I make sure to press the tofu before cooking to remove any excess liquid and simply pan fry it until golden and crispy. Whilst it won’t stay crispy throughout the week, the colour you get from pan frying definitely adds to the flavour. After having this lunch at least a couple of times a week for the last year, I can confirm that it does not get boring! It’s full of everything you need and will keep you full for a few hours before your next snack. 3pm - Snack - Handful of Nuts and an Apple For my afternoon snack, I usually go for a handful of nuts which are full of protein and an apple. Apples are full of antioxidants and fibre, so combined with the nuts this makes a perfect afternoon snack. Some days I will swap out the nuts for some peanut butter which tastes amazing. 5:30pm - Dinner - Mixed Bean Chilli with Brown Rice, Vegan Cheese and Salad When I get in from work during the week, I’m not a fan of spending hours cooking. So, each weekend I will spend a few hours batch making meals and freezing them to make life easier when I finish work. One of my go to Recipes is this vegan protein chilli with brown rice, vegan cheese and salad. Including the rice and cheese, this meal has around 36 grams of protein! I usually multiply this recipe by 6, leaving a couple of portions in the fridge and freeze the rest. If you are worried about having to eat the same thing each day, I have a trick for you! I aim to batch make one or two Recipes each weekend, and if you change up what you are cooking each week, you will eventually have a range of different meals in the freezer to choose from. 8pm - Dessert - 2 Protein Brownie Bites Being conscious of eating healthy calories does not have to be boring in the slightest. These vegan, paleo and keto friendly protein brownie bites taste unbelievable and offer a high protein, healthy alternative to other desserts. They are super fudgy and keep really well, so you could eat them throughout the week without going dry. I like to eat them straight from the fridge, or heat them up in the microwave and enjoy with some low-calorie ice cream. Summary So, there you have it! I hope this shows that being a vegan won’t impact your fitness in a negative way at all. I’m still consuming as much protein and calories as I was as a meat eater and I find that my energy levels and ability to recover are much higher. With Veganuary fast approaching, give it a go and you will soon see the benefits!