Defying Limits: Mattia Cerminara’s Journey as a Vegetarian Athlete Elite CrossFit®

In this in-depth feature, we spotlight Mattia Cerminara, a dynamic 29-year-old who excels both as an elite CrossFit athlete and as a coach. Beyond his athletic prowess, Mattia is distinctive for his commitment to a vegetarian lifestyle—an uncommon choice in the physically demanding realm of competitive sports.

Residing in the picturesque town of Lurago d’Erba in Como, Italy, Mattia has embraced vegetarianism for the past eight years. His decision is rooted in a deep-seated belief in personal ethics and a conscious approach to health.

Today, we invite our readers to delve into the factors that shaped his dietary decisions, including the profound impact of his cherished dog, Bagheera, and his strategies for maintaining top physical performance on a plant-based diet.

Through this candid conversation, we aim to shed light on the personal convictions and life choices that define Mattia, while also addressing the stereotypes and misconceptions he faces as a vegetarian athlete.

Mattia Cerminara’s vegetarian athlete Interview

Can you tell us why you became a vegetarian?

“I adopted vegetarianism with my partner at the time. We frequently discussed the issues surrounding factory farming and the dismal living conditions of animals destined for slaughter. A significant turning point was the arrival of my dog, Bagheera. She made me acutely aware of the hypocrisy in our distorted view of pets versus farm animals. After adopting this diet, I never looked back.”

How have you changed since you started living this way?

“Honestly, my life hasn’t changed dramatically; it’s more about having a different diet. While I haven’t noticed a direct improvement in my health, I’m happy that nothing has worsened either. My health and energy levels remain robust, just as they were before.

Over the past eight years, I’ve significantly enhanced my athletic performance, all while adhering to a vegetarian diet.”

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Have you faced any criticism or stereotypes since you became a vegetarian athlete?

“It’s a constant challenge, but being an elite CrossFit athlete sometimes helps demonstrate that meat isn’t crucial for building muscle or achieving top results. I firmly believe that if meat is unnecessary for someone with my specific dietary needs, then it’s unnecessary for anyone.”

Is there any food that was hard to eliminate from your diet?

“Bacon is the only food that still tempts me with its smell, but I still don’t eat it.”

You are competitive athletes in a high-intensity activity (CrossFit). Let’s debunk a myth: do you need to eat meat to be an athlete?

“Obviously not, I eat it secretly. Our body cannot tell if the proteins are vegetable or animal; it just uses them. Just need to be careful and have a bit of nutritional education to choose the best protein sources and manage to combine foods that help you achieve the results you are looking for.

The distorted idea that athletes must eat meat also comes from misinformation. Our sport is predominantly glycolytic, carbohydrates remain the main source of energy. Many cereals also contain good amounts of protein.”

How do you eat when you are in season? Describe a day of meals during a competition!

“During competitions, I focus mainly on carbohydrates, my primary energy source. My competition day meals typically start with bread, peanut butter, and jam, paired with Greek yogurt. Throughout the event, I consume energy gels or protein bars. For lunch and dinner, I prefer easily digestible meals like white rice with oil and parmesan cheese, ensuring I never consume less than 3500 kcal a day.”

Besides nutrition, has this change impacted other aspects of your life?

“Not really, I try to do what everyone should do in this world, but I’m definitely not an environmentalist.”

Do you have any tips or advice for someone considering this path?

“Just begin! If you are convinced it is the right decision, certainly an external opinion will not doubt it. It is a courageous choice, it puts us in front of unwanted external opinions, having to inform ourselves about what is really right to eat, changing often ingrained habits in us unintentionally, questioning some traditions, but whether we like it or not, it is a selfless choice.

It helps ourselves feel good as much as it helps others to have a healthier, less polluted, and more conscious world. What has always helped me is to be aware of the product we eat, meat does not come sliced or already cut, there is a life that is broken to feed us, to give us an ‘item’ that over time I have discovered not to be necessary, in fact, it is completely superfluous.”

Thank You, Mattia!

We extend our deepest gratitude to Mattia Cerminara for his openness and the invaluable insights he has shared in this enlightening discussion. His journey as a vegetarian athlete is not merely inspiring—it’s a robust testament to the viability of achieving athletic excellence on a plant-based diet.

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Mattia’s story is a powerful reminder of the potential within us all to challenge conventional wisdom and pursue a path less traveled, yet potentially more fulfilling.

As we conclude this feature, it’s clear that Mattia’s dedication to his diet and his sport transcends the typical narratives of dietary constraints limiting athletic performance. He embodies the possibility of maintaining elite physical conditioning and health without compromising personal ethics or lifestyle choices.

His approach encourages us all to reconsider our dietary habits and the broader impacts these choices have on our health, the environment, and animal welfare.

For those captivated by Mattia’s story and keen on following his athletic pursuits and daily inspirations, we encourage you to visit his Instagram profile at Mattia’s Instagram. There, you’ll find a vibrant community of followers and an array of posts that reflect his journey, challenges, and victories.

Keep up with his ongoing achievements and milestones as he continues to make strides in the demanding world of elite CrossFit, proving time and again that with the right mindset and determination, the possibilities are limitless.

His story serves as an inspiration not only to athletes but to anyone looking to make significant lifestyle changes for health and ethical reasons. Stay tuned to his updates and be part of a transformative journey that redefines what it means to be a successful athlete in today’s world.