July 2, 2011 brought about another first for the infamous cycling event, the Tour de France. In its 107-year history, cyclists have experimented with a multitude of options to better their chances at taking on the steep mountains and rigorous course. From diets full of red meat and carbs to even using cigarettes as a tactic, nearly everything has been attempted by the athletes. However, American cyclist David Zabriskie tried something no one else ever had. Zabriskie showed up to the starting line, planning on his vegan diet to carry him to victory.
While so many people practice a vegetarian or vegan diet, why was Zabriskie’s diet news? His no meat, dairy, or egg diet seems so radical due to the demands his sport puts on his body. Most cyclists eat plenty of meat and diary to help muscle recovery. The iron in red meat helps the body produce hemoglobin which helps transport oxygen to the muscles.
So why would any athlete of Zabriskie’s caliber do such a thing? Zabriskie has a medical reason, stating that blood tests showed some food sensitivities that meant while most athletes would benefit from red meat, that meat would take too much energy for Zabriskie to digest.
After the discovery of his condition, Zabriskie slowly began phasing out meat and then eventually diary. After a solid nine months on the diet, Zabriskie admits to feeling great. He returned to give some of his strongest career performances, winning more time trials than ever before.
Zabriskie surprised many when his iron level was tested and it was found to have remained stable on his vegan diet.
After consulting with other athletes, Zabriskie began adding a little bit of fish to his diet as a means to effectively help his body absorb particular vitamins and iron. So, he can say he’s mostly vegan, but partakes in a fish dish twice a week.
Even with the small amount of fish, Zabriskie’s diet is busting many former myths about veganism or vegetarianism and athletic performance. His stats don’t lie.
Zabriskie gave a tremendous, vegan-fueled performance at this year’s Tour de France. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish due to a mass crash during stage nine. Multiple riders withdrew due to injury. Zabriskie was reported to have fractured his wrist.
Despite his unfortunate circumstance during the Tour, most expect to see many more great things from this pioneer in vegan athleticism.