In the first attempt of its kind, American cyclist David Zabriskie will be competing in the Tour de France while on a vegan diet.
Cyclists in this race typically consume about 8,000 calories a day and large portions of red meat meat to increase protein development and improve muscle recovery – the ideal diet for the 2,200-mile, 3-week race.
Zabriskie began changing around his diet last year after medical tests suggested various types of food sensitivity, and during last year’s cycling “off season” he gave veganism a shot. He cut down on red meat throughout the last season after realizing the amount of energy it took to digest, eventually giving up milk, eggs and dairy as well. After making these changes, Zabriskie claims to have experienced some of his best form in racing. Aside from improved performance, minor ailments such as canker sores and saddle rash began to clear up.
While he has made these changes as a way to improve his health and cycling performance, he will also be “cheating” on his diet twice a week during the race by eating small amounts of salmon in order to help his body absorb iron. One large component of his diet is a vegan energy shake containing large portions of flax seed, hemp seed, and brown rice protein, consumed 4 times a day.
While it sounds questionable to severely alter his diet before taking on one of the toughest cycling races in the world, if he does well, this could potentially alter how other cyclists nurture their bodies. Zabriskie has won more time trials in the current season than he has in his entire career, and with the diet going hand-in-hand with the improvement of various ailments, it could become a healthier, more efficient way for athletes to go about their nutrition.
If dark leafy greens, brown rice and vegan protein shakes prove to help in his overall Tour de France performance, do you think it would be reason for athletes to reconsider their meat consumption?