Time to put the conventional belief that the body must be supplied with meat products to attain the fitness goal to an end.

Generally, vegetarianism is perceived as consumption of leafy foods, and the person is seen as a weak individual lacking essential nutrients in the body.

A well-balanced plant-based diet is all that it takes for fitness geeks to help move closer to their goal. Protein is an essential part of the diet. But, the fact is that the human body does not store protein like other macronutrients, hence it has to be supplied from the diet.

A person's body needs a balance of all 22 types of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, to function. The human body cannot produce nine of these amino acids, called essential amino acids.

A complete protein source refers to a type of food that contains all nine.

The following are the foods that helped me reach my fitness goals: Soy products, tofu, nuts, legumes, grains, beans, spinach, fruits and vegetables, oats, peanut butter, whole wheat/ multi-grain/buckwheat bread, and plenty of water.

Five meals a day with protein intake in every meal worked for me. Rather than focusing on a single type of protein, it is better to focus on eating a wide variety of foods. Trust me! These six months have been super addictive.

Muscle gains are significant while feeling more positive, stronger and content.

A study was conducted on the effect of a vegetarian diet on running performance (5-8 km test runs). The subjects completed the run before and after a 2-week test diet. No significant differences in performance were found between the trials, suggesting the plantbased diet played no role in affecting the performance.

A plethora of advantages of choosing a plant-based diet over an animal diet also cannot be overlooked.

Eating more plant-derived nutrients improves a person's overall health. Eating meat has the most devastating effect on the environment, as globally, animal farming is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world's transportation systems combined.

Did you know raising animals for food consumes more than half of all water used in the US? Producing just one hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles. A typical pig factory generates the same amount of raw waste as a city of 12,000 people.

The fact that animal foods are the highest quality protein sources cannot be denied. But, is the step towards vegetarianism not worth taking, considering the lives of innocents? Think of being the corpse of such innocent animals. The tiniest effort on the food one eats is more than enough to make the world better.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 17, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.