American will be first cyclist to ride a vegan Tour de France

 

Los Angeles

The substances consumed by a professional cyclist usually make headlines for all the wrong reasons, but when America's David Zabriskie pedals away from the starting line of the Tour de France this weekend, he will also be commencing a unique nutritional experiment.

For the first time in the 108-year history of his sport's most gruelling event, Zabriskie, who announced his conversion to veganism at the end of last year, says he will attempt to complete the 2,200-mile, three-week race without consuming any meat, eggs or dairy products.

It's a challenge because cyclists on the Tour need to consume roughly 8,000 calories a day. They have traditionally scoffed large portions of meat in order to replace lost protein, which helps muscle recovery. Animal products also replace missing iron, which produces haemoglobin that helps transport oxygen around the body.

Zabriskie, who is six foot tall and weighs just over 10 stone, began experimenting with his diet last season, after a blood test carried out by his team chiropractor revealed that he was highly sensitive to certain types of food. During last year's tour, he began cutting down on meat, believing that it required too much energy to digest.

Shortly afterwards, he stopped consuming milk and cheese, and was pleased with the results. During the off season, which began in October, he decided that it was time to "make some major changes" to his lifestyle, and announced he would be becoming a vegan.

Since then Zabriskie claims to have been in some of the best form of his career, a fact he attributes directly to the new diet. "I think a lot of people see food in terms of whether it's going to make them fat or make them skinny," he told yesterday's Wall Street Journal. "I'm seeing food in terms of how it's going to make me think and will it give me clarity."

He added that his overall health has improved, and that minor ailments, including canker sores and a saddle rash he suffered from persistently, have all begun to clear up. Even his eyesight has sharpened, he told the newspaper.

Zabriskie has adopted the new diet for reasons of health, rather than animal welfare, so he takes a pragmatic approach to some of the demands of a true vegan lifestyle. In a move which might disappoint purists, he has decided to "cheat" by eating small portions of salmon twice a week during the Tour, to increase his ability to absorb iron.

The other secret of his daily diet is a special brand of vegan energy shake, which contains hefty portions of hemp seeds, flax seeds, and protein from brown rice. He began drinking them after suffering from low energy levels earlier this season, and now consumes at least four a day.

That has been enough to keep his physique more muscular than the vegan stereotype. But although Zabriskie's animal-friendly diet may be relatively common in his native Los Angeles, it still stands out in professional cycling, where protein shakes tend to be infused with raw egg whites.

His employers, the Garmin-Cervelo team, admit they were initially concerned by Zabriskie's vegan diet. Team director, Jonathan Vaughters, insisted he ate extra portions of leafy greens, such as spinach, and took regular blood tests to monitor his level of ferritin, the protein that stores iron.

Their fears dissipated when he hit a run of good form, winning the time trial during this year's Tour of California and then coming first in the US national time trial championships.

On paper, Zabriskie still does not have much chance of winning the Tour de France, which he has entered five times and completed three times. But he did win the time trial in 2005 and hopes to replicate that feat.

Mr Vaughters said: "The proof is in the pudding... He's won more time trials this year than he has in his career." The next three weeks, he added, would be "the ultimate test of the vegan diet".

Dishes of the day

It is not the average daily intake, but needing up to 8,000 calories a day and without meat, this is the Zabriskie diet during the Tour de France.

Breakfast...

...is not exactly for a king, with oatmeal with molasses. Nuts, cinnamon and a couple of tablespoons of coconut butter are part of the mix, along with an apple, and hemp seeds.

On the bike...

...Zabriskie will eat vegan bars, gels and shots and up to eight bottles of special race drink.

After the race...

...and before dinner, Zabriskie will eat white rice with maple syrup and cinnamon. Protein drinks will be eaten before dinner along with goji berries.

And for dinner...

...Rice or pasta will be accompanied by salad and vegetables, with a vegan shake and fresh fruit before bed.

Source: Wall Street Journal

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
premier league
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam