Vegan Athlete - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Vegan Athlete

A vegan is a pure vegetarian. They not only avoid meat, fish and poultry, they also don't eat eggs, milk or cheese. Can such a limited diet sustain an athlete? The answer may surprise you.

Ben Shaberman ss a marathon runner who logs about 25 miles a week.

Ben says, "I've been running steadily for 23 years. I'm guessing that i've run more than 25,000 miles now."

For the last four years of his running career, the 47-year-old has been a vegan - not eating meat, fish, eggs or dairy.

Ben says, "Ill get let's say a spinach and tofu burrito maybe about 10:00. Then I might have some beans and rice later on or maybe a salad."

Is it enough fuel for an athlete or is he running on empty?

Registered Dietitian, Mark Rifkin says, "the biggest misconception is probably that they're not getting enough protein. They're not getting enough calories."

Mark is a dietitian and spokesperson for the vegetarian resource group. He says a well-planned vegan diet has all the right nutrients.

Mark says, "for a long distance runner, his primary need over a sedentary, or shall we say less active, individual the same age is gonna' be increased energy, primarily carbohydrates for stamina and endurance."

Vegans get their carbs in foods like pasta and rice. Green, leafy vegetables provide calcium. And there's plenty of protein in nuts, whole grains and plants.

Mark says, "typically legumes like kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, etc., lentils. And also soy products. So edamame, like green soy beans, tofu."

Like any healthy diet, vegans should eat a colorful, variety of foods.

Ben says, "like any athlete, you have to just eat more of everything."

It's enough to keep ben on his toes.

Famous vegan athletes include Carl Lewis, an olympic gold medalist, Brendan Brazier, a professional triathlete and Tony Gonzalez, a tight-end for the Kansas City Chiefs.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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