Ultrathon runner Harvey Lewis, 45-years old, won the most recent 135-mile Badwater endurance race, on a vegan diet.
Badwater is the most demanding running race offered anywhere on the planet. The race starts at 280 ft below sea level in California’s Death Valley, and finishes up at 8300 ft on Mount Whitney. Lewis completed the race in under 26 hours, despite 100 degree heat. He has won this race before back in 2014, and has completed the race 10 times, with top wins half of those times. He credits plant-based nourishment for his endurance and athletic performance.
In 1996 at age 20, Lewis decided to become a vegetarian after his mother suffered a stroke at age only 54, which caused him to reassess the culture of the modern Western diet. Following a trip to the Australian rainforest for college credit and an overarching love for animals, Lewis considered his existing habits and their impact on his overall quality of life, as well as the impact on the planet.
More recently in 2016, he went fully vegan. He says being vegetarian, and now vegan, gives him the “necessary ingredients for my body to bounce back quickly from punishing endurance events.” He admits his daily nutrition varies significantly from his race-day intake, particularly for a 24-hour race. On a regular day, Lewis enjoys black bean burgers, traditional ethnic foods like Indian and Korean cuisine, and mango smoothies.
However, during lengthy races, he snacks on Clif bars and cran-razz shot bloks, Peppermint Patties, Coca-Cola, pizza and avocado sandwiches. For a race in the heat, like Badwater, Lewis relies on liquid calories, namely Clif hydration drinks and Coca-Cola. Lewis was featured on a No Meat Athlete podcast describing his Badwater win and race-day nutrition.
Several other ultrarunner athletes prefer plant-based diets, including a former member of ours, Scott Jurek, who co-authored a memoir called Eat & Run detailing his experiences with ultrarunning, going meatless in 1997, and becoming vegan in 1999.