Too often athletes who say they get plenty of protein from an entirely plant-based diet are met with incredulity. But it’s become increasingly clear that you can excel in sports without the help of any animal products. Just ask professional athlete Morgan Mitchell, 25, an Australian Olympic sprinter who’s been following a completely vegan diet for five years.
“Being vegan has helped me immensely. I don’t feel sluggish like I did when I was eating meat, and my recovery from training really took off. It felt like an overall cleanse for my body, and I started seeing greater results on the track,” says Mitchell. “Ultimately helping the environment and not contributing to animal cruelty was a big thing for me, too. That was my initial reason for going vegan, and the rest of the benefits were just added bonuses.”
For Mitchell, getting enough protein every day to is essential to achieving peak performance. Here’s how she packs every meal of the day with enough vegan protein for a professional athlete.
How Olympian Morgan Mitchell gets enough protein with every meal
1. Breakfast: breakfast burrito
Mitchell goes big on breakfast—especially since she has at least two training sessions in a day. Her favorite protein-packed way to start the day is with a vegan breakfast burrito. “I like to make sure I have three different types of protein in there. I use tofu, beans, and mushrooms, along with spinach, vegan cheese, and hash browns,” she says. “I also love to add Beyond Meat for more flavor, which is a great source of plant protein as well. That usually keeps me full for the better part of the day.”
While many athletes turn to protein shakes for breakfast, Mitchell typically steers clear. “I try to stay away from vegan protein shakes because I don’t usually like to substitute a meal with a drink,” she says. “But if I do want a little bit more, then I may add vegan protein to a smoothie and have it in the car with me.”
2. Lunch: vegan chicken salad or a smoothie and vegan grilled cheese
Mitchell two favorite lunchtime meals depend on where she’s eating it. “At home, I’m a light eater when it comes to lunch… probably because I stuffed my face with the vegan burrito,” she says. “I go for a salad with vegan chicken strips for protein, and I mix mushrooms in there, too.”
If she’s out and about, Mitchell loves stopping by a superfood bar that’s near her training venue to grab a smoothie and a “toastie,” or grilled cheese. “I love this vegan pesto toastie, which has pesto, vegan cheese, and avocado,” she says. “I usually ask them to add shiitake mushrooms and vegan beef to it too, just to make sure there’s plenty of protein.”
3. Dinner: vegan burgers and homemade fries or a Buddha bowl
Mitchell ends her day in the best way possible—with a burger and fries. “I love making vegan burgers with homemade fries. All of the protein is in the patty,” she says. “If I don’t choose the Beyond Meat patty, then I’ll go for a bean mix patty because I know there will be enough protein in that, too—plus, they’re really filling.”
When Mitchell doesn’t have the time to cook, she usually chooses a meal from a plant-based food delivery service. “My go-to in Australia is Soulara, a company that I’ve partnered with,” she says. “I love that you can get a high-protein meal that can be ready in minutes. My favorite right now is any tempeh-packed Buddha bowl because I can eat it hot or cold.”
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