We’ve discussed the benefits of adding more plants to your plate in a previous article. For dancers choosing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, focusing on abundance and variety helps to ensure they’re eating enough to support performance. But for some dancers, choosing a lifestyle that is 100% plant-based can risk vitamin and mineral deficiencies (if not well-planned) and can even trigger disordered eating (if not implemented with the help of professional support).
Common Plant-Based Pitfalls
You’re Not Eating Enough
Eating too few calories throughout your day risks electrolyte imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and a syndrome known as Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport. Since the bioavailability (AKA the amount of a nutrient that the body can absorb and utilize) is less from plant-based foods in comparison to animal-based foods, abundance is key for plant-based dancers. One example is vitamin B12. Incorporating ample amounts of foods rich in B12 is essential for maintaining a working metabolism (vitamin B12 plays a major role in your body’s metabolism).
Side note: this almost always means packing extra snacks.
You’re Masking Disordered Eating
Since vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are technically restrictive, it’s important to assess your intentions. Ask yourself, “why am I choosing this lifestyle?” If you’re seeking control or looking to manipulate your body weight, shape, or size, then your intentions will likely lead you down an unsustainable road.
Plant-based lifestyles can be an awesome tool for implementing more sustainable practices in your life, but you’ll want to make sure that your relationship with food is sound prior to diving into anything that could trigger disordered eating. Reducing your carbon footprint and considering animal welfare are two examples of how a plant-based lifestyle, such as veganism, can fit into a dancer’s life. If it starts to feel too restrictive, or, if obsessive food thoughts trickle in, then you’ll need to reassess. But for those of you looking to boost the plant content of your plate, here is a compilation of our favorite plant-based recipes. Enjoy!
#1. French toast
Mashed banana and almond milk create an awesome french toast that is both rich and satisfying. Top with whipped cream (choosing a plant-based option is totally doable!), nut butter, and fruit to balance out the meal for a fueled morning. Here’s the recipe.
#2. Carrot baked oatmeal
This recipe swaps eggs with a “flax egg,” which helps to create a binder (and gives a boost of omega-3 fats!). Flax eggs are a great swap in most vegan recipes.
#3. Tofu scramble
Nutritional yeast is often fortified with Vitamin B12, making it a staple for vegan and vegetarian dancers. Here’s the recipe I like:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 block of medium-firm tofu, drained
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
- Veggie mix-ins: broccoli, asparagus, bell pepper, onion, spinach
- Garnish: sliced avocado
Directions: Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet. Crumble the tofu and transfer to the skillet. Stir in the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, turmeric, and salt. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until you have a soft scramble. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with sliced avocado and serve with toast.
#4. Breakfast potatoes
The perfect side for your tofu scramble, these potatoes are super simple to make and extra crispy for my fellow breakfast lovers. Quick myth bust: white potatoes are just as nourishing as sweet potatoes, so utilize the one you enjoy most!
#5. “ButterMilk” Waffles
This mouthwatering plant-based waffle recipe is both quick and convenient. Fun fact: you can make vegan buttermilk using apple cider vinegar and plant-based milk! Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!
#6. breakfast burrito
Breakfast burritos are a great way to pack in protein after a long rehearsal. Make ahead and simply pop ’em in the freezer. This recipe uses black beans, which are fibrous legume that helps to sustain your energy for longer mornings.
#7. Instant oatmeal
This recipe is basic but oh-so-creamy and delicious! Make sure to add your favorite nut butter, fruits, seeds, and sweetener to complete this breakfast. Oats are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, phosphorus, copper, B vitamins, iron, selenium, magnesium, and zinc.
#9. eggplant shakshuka
Eggplant is rich in both fiber and antioxidants. Its subtle flavor also makes for a versatile base in many plant-based dishes. This dish is loaded with flavor and packed with super satisfying components like a tofu scramble. Here’s the recipe.
#10. Savory Golden Oatmeal
Ready to dip into the world of savory breakfast inspiration? Bonus: the turmeric in this recipe is known for its anti-inflammatory properties (super helpful for dancers and athletes!). Here’s the recipe.
#11. Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are a great way to prepare your breakfast before a long day of dancing. Oats offer an easy base for almost any recipe. Top with chia seeds, nut butter, and berries and you’re set! Here’s the recipe.
#12. Raspberry Muffins
Anthocyanins are the pigments in red, purple, and blue-colored produce that are known for their powerful antioxidative properties. A perk? This recipe sets you up with a great base that can be used to make a variety of muffins like chocolate chip, lemon poppy, and blueberry.
#13. Banana bread
This recipe uses whole wheat flour and chocolate chips to create a familiar flavor that is 100% whole grain and perfectly sweet. The eggs can easily be substituted with a flax egg. Bananas are also a great source of potassium, a mineral that supports fluid balance.
#14. Chickpea Avocado Toast
Chickpeas are an excellent source of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. This recipe pairs yummy spices and olive oil to create a crispy and filling meal.
#15. Tempeh Potato Hash
Tempeh is a type of fermented soy, like tofu. It’s an excellent source of calcium, which is something to keep an eye on as a dancer. The skin of potatoes is also rich in iron. Here’s the recipe.