Saturday, July 25, 2009

vegan athletes

my last post dealt with vegan athlete Rich Roll (reference: getting fit & healthy). i found his story impressive, not just in terms of athletic achievement or personal change, but also because of his adoption of a vegan diet. i'm like so many others who find it hard to associate veganism with sports, given the integral nature of protein into physical recovery and growth. clearly, just based on Rich Roll, veganism isn't so incompatible with athletics.

Rich's story got me thinking about the nature of vegan athletics, and about what it involves in relationship to sports & fitness lifestyle. i've written about vegan/vegetarian athletes before, and found some interesting videos on the subject (reference: videos: vegan & vegatarian athletes), but decided to dig around to see what else i could find on the internet.

turns out that veganism--and also vegetarianism--isn't as uncommon in sports as i thought it was. there's a list of vegan athletes you can check out (reference: vegan/vegetarian athletes). there's even another vegan professional Ironman triathlete (reference: Brendan Brazier). seeing these profiles and their levels of success, it's pretty clear that any perceptions of veganism being incompatible with sports or fitness are pretty much wrong.

from a certain perspective, i guess you can argue that veganism might actually be beneficial to sports and fitness. considering all the dangers of meat products, let alone the ills of the modern diet--e.g., excesses of saturated fats, trans fats, LDL cholesterol, simple sugars, and chemical preservatives, inversely matched with deficiencies in unsaturated fats, HDL cholesterol, natural ingredients, and nutrients, vegan and vegetarian diets seem to avoid elements of the former while offering a better supply of the latter. this would suggest that vegan and vegetarian diets would actually be more conducive to better health and hence better performance.

the catch, of course, is to make sure that a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle gives you what you expect and need for athletic development. you can eat all the vegetables and fruits and give up all the animal products you want, but unless you give your body what it needs you're still going to end up throttling it, or worse, breaking it down.

it's not about the diet, it's about what in it. meaning that you still have to ensure that whatever diet you follow, including vegan or vegetarian, has the requisite ratios of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins and minerals in adequate quantities to maintain your biochemical processes.

here's a couple of articles discussing vegan athletes i thought were informative:
for deeper exploration of veganism and sports, i found these:
i'm not vegan or vegetarian. but i have to admit i have given it some thought. and there are times in the training cycle when i definitely develop an aversion to meat and meat products and acquire a craving for vegetables and fruits. it makes me think that my body is telling me what it wants and needs. maybe i should listen to it more.

1 comment:

James said...

Good article. I am glad I found your site. There are more and more vegan athletes such as plant based Brendan Brazier. He even has his own line of vegan nutritional products!