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.
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.
The American sprinter, Elijah Hall, says: “Changing my diet was the best decision I could have made.” The athlete made this decision to ditch meat and dairy from his diet a few months ago because “he’s on a mission” to win. Hall adds, “the effects that it’s having on my body is amazing. Becoming a plant-based athlete has opened many doors to my health and my training.”
Hall holds records in the indoor 200 meters and was training for the Tokyo Olympics that were scheduled to take place this month, but was postponed a year due to the pandemic. Last year, Hall said he took the entire summer off to train, “Took the summer off to get it right… Let’s get to it !!” When it comes to track and field, a plant food diet means getting it right!
Our very own Scott Jurek has broken another record! Scott completed the 2,189 miles of the Appalachian trail in 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes – an all time record. The 41 year old ultramarathoner averaged almost 50 miles a day. His run, as with his others, was fueled by his healthy vegan diet. In 2010 he set the American record for most miles run in 24 hours at 165.7 miles, not to mention his seven consecutive victories from 1999-2005 in the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run.
According to Chris McDougall, author of “Born to Run”, Scott Jurek is the top ultrathon runner in the US, maybe in the world, arguably of all time. While he lived in Seattle, he was a member of Vegetarians of Washington and a popular speaker at Vegfest. Scott says, as a result of his vegan diet, “I have noticed improvements in recovery time, stamina, endurance and strength during my demanding training sessions. I’ve also noticed an improved vitality in my everyday life and a greater appreciation for the consciousness of choosing healthy foods.”
By the way while we’re talking about sports, we’d like to mention that Serena Williams just won the tennis championship at Wimbledon on a plant fueled diet. Way to go veg athletes!
According to Chris McDougall, author of “Born to Run”, Scott Jurek is the top ultrathon runner in the US, maybe in the world, arguably of all time. His biography lists victories in almost all the major ultrathon races on both trail and road, across the world, including the Spartathon, a 153 mile race from Athens to Sparta in Greece. He has won the Western States 100 mile endurance run a record seven straight times. While he lived in Seattle, he was a member of Vegetarians of Washington and a popular speaker at Vegfest. He credits his superior endurance, recovery and overall health to his 100% plant-based diet, and has been a strong advocate for vegetarianism for many years. Scott says, as a result of his vegan diet, “I have noticed improvements in recovery time, stamina, endurance and strength during my demanding training sessions. I’ve also noticed an improved vitality in my everyday life and a greater appreciation for the consciousness of choosing healthy foods.”