Sports nutrition companies are catering to a growing population of plant-based athletes.
According to a 2014 Harris Interactive study, approximately 5 percent of the United States population (or 16 million Americans) are vegetarian, with half of those identifying as vegan. Additionally, 33 percent of the population, or over 100 million people, say they choose to eat more vegetarian and vegan meals than in years past.
As popularity of a plant-based diet soars, so do sports nutrition options for vegetarian and vegan athletes. In the past, vegan athletes found it challenging to find gels, bars, and chews devoid of animal products. Nether vegetarians or vegans eat meat or fish; however, vegans follow an exclusively plant-based lifestyle, choosing not to eat other animal products such as dairy, eggs, honey or ingredients derived from animal products (such as gelatin or certain amino acids).
Today, an abundance of plant-based options exist for athletes looking to reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products. Some are new formulas of long-time favorites, while others have hit the market in recent years to cater to the growing field of no-meat athletes.