Vegan cyclist to compete in Tour de France
America's David Zabriskie will be the first vegan in the race's 108-year history.
Fri, Jul 01 2011 at 12:02 PM
Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons
When the Tour de France kicks off on July 2, one competitor will — for the first time ever — take on the grueling 2,200-mile, three-week race while maintaining a plant-based diet.
American David Zabriskie radically changed his diet over the least year after a blood test revealed that he was highly sensitive to certain foods. He initially went vegetarian, and then dropped dairy, leading to a vegan lifestyle that he says has given him greater overall health and performance.
"I think a lot of people see food in terms of whether it's going to make them fat or make them skinny," he told the Wall Street Journal
. "I'm seeing food in terms of how it's going to make me think and will it give me clarity."
Indeed, after shifting to a vegan diet, Zabriskie won more time trials than at any point in his career. Still, the Tour de France is famously brutal on competitors, demanding close to 8,000 calories a day from cyclists. Generally, such energy levels are fueled by large portions of meat to help replace protein and iron — but the 32-year-old Zabriskie will look to alternatives. From the UK Independent:
"The other secret of his daily diet is a special brand of vegan energy shake, which contains hefty portions of hemp seeds, flax seeds, and protein from brown rice. He began drinking them after suffering from low energy levels earlier this season, and now consumes at least four a day."
Purists, however, may be disappointed to hear that Zabriskie will consume small portions of salmon twice a week to increase his ability to absorb iron — but seriously, that's a small cheat in what's an otherwise amazing display of vegan athleticism.
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