Scott Jurek has long been dominant as an ultramarathon runner, and is considered one of the greatest of all time in the sport. He has been winning 100+ mile races since the late 1990s. In his newly published book, Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, he reflects upon his career and discusses the diet that has fueled him to success.
A long-time passionate advocate of the plant-based diet, Scott Jurek is one of a growing number of elite athletes in several sports ranging from distance running to boxing to MMA who are vegan and tout the diet as a key component of success. Among them Brendan Brazier, Rich Roll, Tim Bradley and many others.
In a recent article, he outlined how and why he made the transformation from omnivore to vegan just a few months before a major race, The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. In his words:
“Even as I made the transition from Grill Master to vegetarian diet, I had reservations. One was money. For a backwoods boy from Minnesota, the idea of pricey groceries was anathema. When my girlfriend would show up with organic apples, or milk, and I would see the price tag, I went berserk. I’d yell, “You paid how much for that?! What’s in it, gold dust?!”
Another concern was performance. I was an athlete, and I was committed to protein, and what I thought was the fastest way to get it–through eating dead animals.
My third worry was taste. Even after giving up meat, I was reluctant to let go of dairy. My sweet tooth was enormous. Cheese pizza never let me down.
Still, when I considered the increased stress to my kidneys, not to mention the chemicals and hormones injected into the country’s food supply and the environmental degradation caused by cattle farms, the decision was easier. I even cut out fish when I realized that unless I caught it myself, in a body of water I knew was clean, I was likely going to be getting some hormones and other chemicals along with my salmon).
So that was it. No meat. No chicken. No fish. No dairy. No animal products of any kind. During my life, once I committed to something, I was all in. (That’s a trait I share with many ultra-runners).
You can read the full article here. For anyone who has made that transition, the story may resonant. Getting past the early conditioning about meat and dairy and protein is a challenge. And as for eliminating dairy, there is also a physiological component; cow’s milk has opiates that impact our brains, causing a literal addiction. Many vegans say it was difficult to give up. That was certainly my experience, enjoying vegetarian cheese pizza and other cheesy indulgences until I underwent the transition.
With the growing interest in plant-based diets, or vegan diets, and the major public figures in many fields, from politicians such as former President Bill Clinton and Hollywood stars and celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Natalie Portman, the elite athletes who are vegan are becoming known. Collectively all are serving to mainstream the diet which for too many years has been dismissed or thought of as somehow impractical.
You can find out more about the amazing career of Scott Jurek from his official Web site ScottJurek.com as well as the book Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness. whose official trailer you can watch in the video below. Let us know what you think!
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