Is it possible to do cross country endurance cycling and perform well when you're vegan?
I've heard lots of people say that the human body needs meat and animal products in order to perform well in sports activities. This is hard for me to comment on myself because I'm not very sporty. I never have been! So I was chuffed when I connected with Dhiren. He refers to himself as a plant-powered road and cross country endurance cyclist. I wanted to find out how eating vegan impacted his progress, (if at all), and then share this with you! I'll leave you with Dhiren and trust that you'll be inspired by what he has shared.
What did you eat before you shifted to a vegan diet and Why did you decide to drop meat and dairy?
I was always keen to remain vegetarian (with dairy and eggs) whilst pursuing athletic ambitions; however, I shifted to a vegan diet around 4 years ago as, initially, dairy wasn't agreeing me. A lot of reading lead me to conclude that I was actually better off without dairy and eggs as they’re acidic and hinder recovery from hard training. Gradually, after learning more about the environmental impact of factory farming and bee farming, I became what most people would call a vegan.
How quickly and easily were you able to reach your goal of becoming an athlete?
I don’t really see myself as an athlete but as someone who leads a highly active lifestyle that’s centred around sport.
What does being an athlete mean?
Some people would say working hard, but I disagree. Really, it’s about being focused. Focused and consistent about doing more of what you enjoy because, ultimately, no athlete pursues progress in a sport that resembles work in their mind. Find a sport that you love. Do it. Do it a lot. Create a life around it. Be organised and make time for it.
What did you notice as a result of making the shift to a vegan diet?
Shifting to a vegan diet has allowed me to train harder, recover faster and, ultimately, catch up with people who have more ‘miles in the legs’.
How quickly did you notice the impact of shifting to a vegan diet?
You don’t really know how you’re doing until you start doing competitive, mass participation events. I started crossing finish lines within the upper 25% bracket; straight after the semi-pros, seasoned amateurs and stone-faced triathletes.
After a succession of events, I began to realise that I was getting more than enough of what I needed and, if anything, all I now require is more time to train and rest properly.
“This is a message to all those out there who think that you need animal products to be fit and strong. Almost two years after becoming vegan I am stronger than ever before and I am still improving day by day. Don't listen to those self proclaimed nutrition gurus and the supplement industry trying to tell you that you need meat, eggs and dairy to get enough protein. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources and your body is going to thank you for stopping feeding it with dead-food. Go vegan and feel the power!”
- Patrik Baboumian