It looks like the Tour de France is about to become the Tour de Vegetable this year, as two cyclists – David Zabriske and Alberto Contador – are swearing off animal products. Zabriske has adopted a nearly vegan diet (vegan + fish twice a week), and Contador has dropped meat from his diet in the wake of testing positive for clenbuteral last year.
My initial response to this news is mixed. Contador is, after all, a lot like George Bush Jr. Every time he opens his mouth, I think how much better it would be for him to just keep it shut. Good for him for not consuming red meat anymore, but this really does nothing to make his tainted steak story more convincing.
Zabriske, on the other hand, has made the change purely because it makes him feel better. But is he performing well? The proof is in the pudding: He has won more time trials this year than he has in the rest of his career. Of course, Scott Jurek, Rich Roll, Brendan Brazier, and others have already shown that it is possible to be a successful, vegan endurance athlete. If Zabriske continues to do well, I hope there is some good coverage of what he’s eating (or not eating) and acknowledgement of what science has already proven: you don’t need a hunk of meat or glass of milk to perform well as an athlete.