With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio fast approaching, it is interesting to hear all of the news stories about the state of this Brazilian seaside city and its ability (or possible inability) to properly house such a large sporting event. From ethical concerns pertaining to personal safety in the city to health concerns to all the hubbub surrounding whether or not Russian Olympians will be allowed to participate due to a doping scandal, it really puts a dent on the Olympics this year, which should really be a time for people of the world to come together to participate, and more likely, if your like me, just observe some of the top athletic competitors around the world together in one central location.
Vegan Olympians are a rare breed. They have managed to achieve significant feats of agility and strength within their intense workout regimens, dietary restrictions and requirements, and performance during the heat of Olympic competition. Overcoming the intense stress on both the body and mind starts in the kitchen, as the food we eat functions to not only make us feel full and satisfied, but nourished and ready to go along with the rest of our day.
For your average person, a whole foods, plant-based diet can provide essential nutrients to get through the daily grind of work and leisure. Some may have more challenging, fast-paced, and physical jobs that require even more nourishment. Others may have a more mentally stimulating work environment, but less physical movement, such as those working a corporate desk job. Whatever the specific need may be, we all need appropriate nutrient intake throughout our days to function at our best. For vegan Olympians, this requirement is escalated and, in the most rare of cases, achieved to perfection as an Olympic runner passes through the finish line to win the 1st place Gold, or an Olympic extreme snowboarder sticks all of her landings in a half pipe to get the highest score from the judges.
All feats ranging from the simple and mundane of the day-to-day to the most extreme that athletes perform require excellent nutrition to be successful. Of course, other factors certainly play a role in the quality of performance such as practice, how often they workout, the quality of the workout regimen, genetics, and more; but it is hard to ignore that the food we eat plays an important part in this puzzle.
Vegan Olympians living a plant-based lifestyle serve as a huge inspiration for many just entering into this way of living. Often, one of the largest hurdles we face when converting from a Standard American Diet to a whole foods, plant-based diet is that motivation can be difficult to come by in the early stages, especially when you are "going it alone." As with anything in life, having a role model to look up to and a story to connect with will help make the journey far easier. Early on in my conversion from the SAD to my plant-based diet (of 3+ years now) was Dr. John McDougall and his book The Starch Solution. As we are entering a time where the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be kicking off in just a few months in Rio, I thought it would be great to share some stories of plant-based Olympians to educate and inspire you to live a better life for yourself.
With the Summer Olympic Games, set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 5-21st, fastly approaching; I thought an interesting piece for today could be to discuss some Olympic athletes who are vegan. In fact, when you search the phrase "vegan Olympians" into Google, one of the first results you see is simply a question: "Is it possible for an Olympic athlete to be vegan?" Of course, the answer to this is an astounding "yes." With that said, we can acknowledge that vegans definitely make up a growing minority within the Olympic games.
I see the Olympics as an opportunity to open up discussion about this important topic, considering people from around the world are literally watching the sports unfold. In fact, I can imagine no greater opportunity to spread the message of living a healthy, plant-based lifestyle than this. To see vegan athletes perform within the top 1% of athletes across the world is incredible, and proves to be a testament that the food we eat can truly nourish our bodies.