Olympian Vegetarians

Source: The Guardian 30 July 2012

Lizzie Armitstead was just 10 years old when she told her parents she wanted to become a vegetarian. Yesterday, she won Great Britain’s first medal of the Olympic Games, taking silver in the gruelling 87-mile road cycling race, no less.

I was brought up as vegetarian from birth and have been a long distance runner for most of my adult life. One of the most common misconceptions I’ve come across is that vegetarians are pallid, gentle creatures who would recoil in a tough sporting arena. Despite the fact I was breaking school records on the track, people still questioned my diet’s ability to make me strong.

I spent six months last year living and training with some of Kenya’s greatest long-distance runners, for my book, Running With the Kenyans. The athletes (from the Rift Valley) were not strictly vegetarian, but ate very little meat, which is usually reserved for special occasions such as weddings or funerals. Although there were occasional non-vegetarian meals served in the athlete training camps, we lived mostly on a diet of rice, beans, ugali (a dough made of maize flour and water) and green vegetables. The list of gold medals the Kenyan athletes have won on the track is almost endless. (On a personal note, I returned home to run a marathon in under three hours.). Read more…

 

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