David Verburg, athlete and animal rights advocate

David Verburg

Runner David Verburg was a 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 4×400 meter relay.  He’s also a vegan. It started over two years ago, because he was doing a lot of work with animal recues and became a big advocate for the animals. 

In 2018 in Clemont, FL, Verburg ran into traffic at an intersection to rescue a turtle that had wandered into traffic. A video of this went viral on social media and made him an unexpected star.  He subsequently started the Golden Tortoise Rescue Foundation in his home state of Florida.

He recognized the hypocrisy of advocating for animals on one hand, and eating them on the other, so he switched to a vegan diet. He began reading about the health benefits and realized that it would be possible, even as an athlete, so he first of all went pescatarian, then vegetarian, and within 6 months had made the full transition to a vegan diet. 

David starts his day off with some type of fruit smoothie, then varies the rest of his breakfast depending on what his plan for workouts that day is.  Sometimes he’ll have oatmeal and berries, other days he’ll have roasted potatoes and avocado toast.  He enjoys a lot of tofu for lunch along with kale salads and sweet potatoes.  He drinks two glasses of water with every meal to ensure he stays hydrated, adding a slice of cucumber, mint or strawberries to give it a little flavor.

Peanut butter and a banana on toast or trail mix are great snacks to get extra protein.  During the pandemic, he’s been learning to cook for himself a lot more, taking recipes he used to enjoy and veganizing them, or following recipes from chef friends or YouTube videos.  He enjoys being creative in the kitchen and making something out of nothing.

On a race day, he still has oatmeal in the morning, but then packs apples with peanut butter as his main fuel.  After the race, he loves to barbecue with seitan, oyster mushrooms and barbecue fries.  Sounds delicious!