Image: Tim Moreillon via flickr
That's right, the race that can burn 8,000 calories a day will this year be faced by a man consuming no meat, eggs or dairy. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, American cyclist David Zabriskie will be "riding the Tour De Vegetable." *In truth, he won't be fully vegan—he said he'll eat small amounts of salmon two days a week to help with iron absorption. But that's it—the rest of his diet consists of things like oatmeal with flax seeds and coconut butter for breakfast, Clif bars (vegan) as snacks while he's riding, and a mix of grains, vegetables, protein shakes and fruit for the rest of the day.
The WSJ explains how Zabriskie, formerly a full meat-eater, got to this point:
at the beginning of last season, his team's chiropractor gave him a blood test that screened his sensitivity to certain types of foods. The chiropractor, Matt Rabin, told Zabriskie he had the highest sensitivity to food on the team. Another blood test showed Zabriskie had the highest inflammation of his muscles.
During last year's Tour de France, Zabriskie turned down the red meat being passed around the dinner table because he thought it required too much energy to digest. In the late summer of last year, he began phasing out all meat from his diet and by October, he had also cut out dairy.
Many have been skeptical—despite the success of vegan ultramarathoner Scott Jurek and Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier—but after nine months on his new diet, Zabriskie said he was feeling better than ever: more focused, he said his vision had improved and various small ailments disappeared.
And Jonathan Vaughters, Zabriskie's team director, said he's won more time trials this year than in any of his previous career.
"This is definitely the ultimate test of the vegan diet," Vaughters told the Journal. "If it works here, no one can ever say you can't do X,Y,Z as a vegan."
More on veganism and health:
Is Bill Clinton Really Going Vegan?
UN Urges a Vegan Diet To Feed A Growing Population
Can a Vegan Diet Control Type 2 Diabetes?
Top 5 Surprising Vegan Super Heroes (Video News)