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    Veganism and Endurance Sports : Challenge and Success

    Veganism and Endurance Sports : Challenge and Success

    If you’ve ever had the notion that vegan diets ARE NOT compatible with high endurance sports, think again. Vegan athletes at the highest level of sports have sustained world class results while maintaining their commitment to veganism. 

    Carl Lewis, Scott Jurek, Serena Williams, Tony Gonzalez, and Arian Foster are just a few of the many vegan athletes that have risen to the top of their profession. So many endurance sport athletes have had a great deal of success following a vegan diet.

    To give you a better idea of why veganism and endurance sports are compatible, and why you should make the switch to become a vegan, let’s take a deeper look at just what the journey looks like.

    The Health Factor

    In the world of endurance sports, cardiovascular health is absolutely essential. Since your heart is working at an alarming rate on a regular basis, you need to limit any potential issues that can come with not having a healthy heart.

    By committing to a vegan diet, you’re able to avoid the saturated fats in meat and dairy products that are proven to cause issues with cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.

    The bottom line is that veganism and athletics go hand in hand because of the heart health benefits that the lifestyle provides.

    The Challenges

    One of the major arguments against a vegan lifestyle for endurance athletes is that the diet will not give them enough energy to consistently sustain a high level of performance. You will hear that you will need the saturated fat and high protein levels found in meat.

    The thing is, gaining energy from food isn’t all that complex. It simply comes down to the fact that endurance athletes must eat more calories on a daily basis in order to accommodate for their training regimens.

    It’s a simple concept that is necessary whether you are a vegan athlete or someone who has a diet filled with meat at every meal.  More calories are necessary, that amount depends on the level of training that you commit to on a daily basis. It’s really that simple.

    Success

    Possibly the greatest proof that you can succeed at the highest levels of endurance sports as a vegan athlete is Scott Jurek. Jurek is an ultramarathon runner that is known as one of the most dominant runners in the world.

    He’s won dozens of marathons throughout his lifetime. In 1999, Jurek competed in and won the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run. To do it, he beat five-time champion and endurance sports legend Tim Twietmeyer.

    Jurek even wrote a book, titled Eat & Run, about his life of combining veganism and athletics. It’s one that is well worth your time if you’d like to take a deeper look into how athletic greatness can be achieved through a vegan diet.

    Conclusion

    Success in endurance sports can be achieved through any diet you choose.

    The argument being made here, however, is that the cardiovascular health benefits that a vegan diet offers make it the optimal choice for any endurance athlete.

     Just ask Scott Jurek...

    It's a lifestyle

    It's a lifestyle

    Our journey started back on 3/13/13 when I was awaken by my father's phone call telling me my Mother had passed away due to a massive heart attack.  She was only 58...One month after my 40th birthday.  It was a complete shock and devastating.  I felt I was in good shape.  Went to the gym regularly, ate what I thought was a healthy diet. But after about 9 months of depression I found myself almost 30 pounds heavier than I have ever been with high cholesterol and border line high blood pressure sitting at the doctors office listening to him tell me I am headed in the same direction as my mom if I don't make some changes.  He gave me 3 months to make a significant reduction in my cholesterol otherwise he would put me on medication for the rest of my life.  He didn't tell me how to do this however...That is when I made a choice to simply cut the cholesterol out of my diet.  I admit, I was naive.  I didn't know what a vegan diet was.  My wife was vegetarian when we met and I converted her back to eating meat. My dad grew up on a chicken ranch, my Aunt lives on a milk farm.  Growing up eggs, milk and meat were a staple in our diet.  I had no intention of living a vegan or plant based life style, come on I hated vegetables, right!  Well that's what I did.  I started by just cutting out any food with cholesterol.  Turns out that was all of the animal products....

    At the same time I began to run and worked towards a goal to do my first Half Marathon on the 1st anniversary of my mothers passing.  Before this, I had never run.  Getting to one mile was a struggle.  Doing so while trying out a new diet seemed almost impossible.  But I soon realized, I felt better, I had more energy, I found a new passion of cooking and most importantly I enjoyed the food!  I got a lot of push back from family and friends when I started my vegan lifestyle, they would say, "just take the pill, it's easier", or "how do you get enough protein", or "can you eat...???"

    1 year after my Mothers passing, I ran my first Half Marathon!  In addition to loosing 20 pounds in the 3 months, my cholesterol dropped from 283 to 194 and my blood pressure plummeted.  My doctor was shocked and said, "what the hell did you do?" My family and friends thought, oh good now he can go back to eating "normal". But, this was "normal" for me.  It made me happy, made me feel good, and made me healthier than ever before.  It had become my lifestyle... I've lost over 30 pounds, my cholesterol is now in the 160 range and my triglycerides dropped into the 70 range. 

    I continued to run and soon began to swim and bike.  I enjoy training everyday and age group competing as often as I can in swim events, running events and triathlons.  I soon found I enjoy longer distance events and completed my first Ironman in 2017.  Being so active people are shocked when they find out I am vegan.  I still get asked all the time, "what do you eat? how do you get enough protein?"  I don't get annoyed by these questions because years ago, I didn't know either.  It's an opportunity to have a conversation, to have some influence on other peoples food and lifestyle choices they make.  Oh and this was when I began to grow the beard as well.  It was my way of reminding myself when I looked in the mirror every morning the new journey I was on...

    Our goal is to use Vegan Powered Athlete as a platform to share, influence, educate and provide resources for an Athletic Vegan Lifestyle.  To show that you not only can perform well athletically on a Vegan diet, but can perform at a high level.  We want to encourage people to live a Vegan lifestyle not only for personal health but to save millions of suffering animals and help reverse the affects the meat and dairy industries have had on the planet.  Please share your stories, recipes, or ideas through Facebook, Instagram, or email to ieatplants.vpa@gmail.com