5 Plant-Based Recipes for Athletes

Whether you’re an elite athlete, avid exerciser, or just an everyday jogger, regular physical activity creates many changes in your body. As you continue to move your body and workout, biochemical training adaptations occur, such as increased expression of antioxidant enzymes and growth in blood cells. While these changes are very beneficial to your health, they also lead to greater nutritional and dietary requirements (1), which must be met with the foods you eat. It is generally understood that athletes of all levels require a significant amount of protein in their daily nutrition to support muscle growth as well as carbohydrates to provide energy and aid in their recovery. This can be seemingly more challenging when trying to commit to a vegan lifestyle. Consistently incorporating chia seeds and vegetables like legume, avocado, tofu and lentil mixtures can be cumbersome and protein powder can only go so far. 

Check out these plant-based meat recipes for athletes to ensure you are getting all nutrients and fortified foods you need to support your physically active lifestyle while sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet regime. 

  1. The Ultimate Meatless Whoppa

Believe it or not, a burger is an excellent meal for vegetarian or vegan athletes leading a physically active lifestyle looking to incorporate healthy fat into their diet. Between the burger patty, bun, and added vegetables, you get all the nutrients you need: protein, carbohydrates, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. 

To make this delicious take on a fast-food favorite without needing to consider calorie intake, brush your Meatless Farm patty with soy or tamari sauce for extra flavor and then fry it up in a pan. Once cooked, place it on a toasted burger bun with sliced pickles, ketchup, sliced onion, tomato, lettuce, and your mayo of choice (vegan or otherwise).

  1. Korean Meatless Beef Bowl

Another balanced plant-based diet option for a vegan athlete is any sort of meat and grain bowl. One of our flavorful favorites is this easy-to-make Korean Meatless Beef Bowl, which only takes about 20 minutes to put together.   

Simply prepare the rice of your choice, and saute your defrosted Meatless Farm ground beef with various spices, including sesame oil, tamari, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Then top it all off with some sliced green onions and sesame seeds. 

  1. Balsamic Glazed Meatless Meatballs

Craving a classic bowl of pasta? Among all of our vegan recipes, the Balsamic Glazed Meatless Meatballs are a favorite and are sure to hit the spot! Plus, it’s loaded with protein, and the pasta is carbohydrate and calorie-dense so you’ll be sure to recover after your workout. 

Begin by cooking your pasta according to package instructions. Then, break your Meatless Farm Ground into 18 pieces, roll them into balls, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle some olive oil in a pan, add your meatballs and let them brown. After several minutes, throw in some chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir for about 2 minutes. Finally, add about 2 tablespoons of balsamic glaze, a jar of passata or tomato puree, and the zest of a whole lemon. Stir to combine. Once your pasta is cooked, top it with your meatballs and some freshly chopped basil. 

  1. Crispy Chik’n Club Sandwich

Like a traditional meat-based burger, a protein-packed sandwich loaded with veggies is a great balanced meal for physically active people. This plant-based chicken recipe is sure to make you proud of your vegan lifestyle!

First, caramelize a mix of red and yellow onions by adding some vegan butter, your onions, and salt to a hot pan, stirring occasionally. After about 3-4 minutes, toss a little water into the pan and stir. Then let the onions cook for about ten more minutes. In the meantime, make a sauce by combining pickles, pickle brine, avocado, vegan mayo, mustard, ketchup, and some onions chopped finely in a bowl and set aside. Next, cook your Meatless Farm Chik’n Cutlet according to the package instructions and toast two slices of bread. Once all the elements of your sandwich are complete, you’re ready to assemble! Put it all together by slathering some of the sauce on a piece of bread, layer with some lettuce, your Chik’n, and a bit of the onion mixture. Top it off with a little more sauce and your second piece of bread. Enjoy!

  1. Vegan Chik’n Nugget Parmesan

Another Italian favorite and perfect meal for following a plant based diet for athletes, this meatless chicken parmesan has everything you need to recover after a workout. You’ll get tons of vegan protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support your body. 

Start by cooking your Meatless Farm Chik’n Nuggets according to the package instructions while you boil a pot of water and cook your desired pasta. When both components are complete, place your pasta in an oven-safe dish and top with your Chik’n nuggets. Then put some discs of mozzarella cheese (vegan or otherwise) over each nugget and sprinkle with parmesan – grated or shredded will work. Place the dish in the oven for several minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Then serve and enjoy!

Plant-based recipes for athletes are all about finding balance and getting the nutrition you need to support an active lifestyle. When you participate in more regular physical activity, your body requires more from your diet, so a person cannot solely rely on protein powder shakes. Be sure to keep this in mind as you plan your meals. 

Want to know more about plant-based diets for a vegan or vegetarian athlete? Check out our complete guide here!


Nebl, J., Schuchardt, J.P., Ströhle, A., Wasserfurth, P., Haufe, S., Eigendorf, J., Tegtbur, U., Hahn, A., 2019a. Micronutrient Status of Recreational Runners with Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian Dietary Patterns. Nutrients 11, 1146. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11051146


About the Author

Angela Walker is a BANT and CNHC registered nutritional therapist with over 12 years of clinical experience, including 8 years with the award-winning, Optimum Health Clinic. Angela is a Nutrition Consultant for Meatless Farm, where she develops nutrition research and communicates the personal health benefits of eating plant-based foods. Angela is also a nutritionist and performance coach of Food for Thought, a program designed to change the way people think about food, diet and nutrition, based on the principles and practices of personalized nutrition and functional medicine. Angela is a published author of many well-known articles including ‘Case Studies in Personalized Nutrition’, a core text at many of the training providers for nutritional therapy and personalized nutrition in the UK and US.