by ecorazzicontributor
Categories: Sports
Tags: , .
Photo: Photographer: V Blak

Brendan Brazier is the type of guy you’d want to bring home to meet your folks. He’s an Ironman triathlete, bestselling author of The Thrive Diet, creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called Vega, and has also worked with celebs like Hugh Jackman to get them into the best shape of their lives through plant-based diets.

At a benefit for PCRM LF we caught up with the athlete— who is one of the few in the world to stick to a 100% vegan diet— and he told us what makes a plant-based diet so vital to performance.

“I’ve been vegan since I was 15, and I got into it just because I wanted to be a better athlete, I didn’t care what I ate,” the 35-year-old said. “At the time I would’ve eaten anything if I thought it would have made me a better athlete. And I just tried different ways of eating… That’s what brought me to it, it was really selfish reasons. I mean, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it.” Brazier explained, “Then I found that a properly put together, plant-based diet was a real performance advantage, and I started racing professionally.”

The Canadian native was voted one of the 25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians by VegNews Magazine, and one of the Top 40 Under 40 most influential people in the health industry by Natural Food Merchandiser. So, when we asked him if he thinks being vegan makes for a better athlete, he responded, “If it’s a properly put together vegan diet I really do. All the top level athletes I know at this point eat a primarily plant based diet.”

Brazier cited his good friend Dave Zabriskie, a Tour de France cyclist who recently became vegan for performance reasons. “He’s top level, and he’s vegan now so it’s exciting,” Brazier maintained. It will mark the first time a cyclist on the tour has ridden completely vegan.

So, for all of you athletes looking to enhance your game— this might be a good time to go veg!

  • Cassandra

    AWESOME. Finally we have a cyclist who doesn’t turn to doping for performance reasons, but turns to PLANTS! I hope it shows all athletes that going vegan enhances athletic peformance. If I had a dollar every time someone said to me, “Oh, you’re vegan? You’d better eat some meat if you want to be good in your sport.” I would be rich by now.

  • herwin

    i am not much into pills and nutritional suplements or the whole health industry, i’ll stick to the fruit and fresh veggies.

  • Carolyn @Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.

    I’m with you… I like to stick to fresh fruit and veggies. I’ve recently been trying Vega’s Whole Food Powder though and do enjoy it. I notice you are Thai… I lived in Nakorn Ratchasima for 2 years!!!


  • Nick

    I think a person’s diet is very subjective to THAT person. Claiming a diet is “best” for a certain group of people is kind of arrogant to assume. While I’m all for people going vegan, I think it’s important to realize that it may not be the best diet for everyone. Like it or not, it’s pretty much written in stone we’ve been meat eaters our entire life. While it’s also true that probably 90% of our diet should be made up of plants, we cannot deny that our natural diet includes SOME animals…
    What happened if everyone went vegan overnight? You can’t take a huge predator like humans out of the equation and think the ecosystem is going to be balanced…

    I was vegan for 10 months, and say what you want about my diet, that perhaps I didn’t “do it right” but I researched a great deal about what could possibly be wrong (ie. B12, Udo’s Oil, green smoothies, multi-vitamins, raw foods, etc..) with it, but after trying all of these things still didn’t feel “right”. I felt not light-headed, just sort of imbalanced, and forgetful, and dumb. Now someone reading this will go “Oh you need B12 for brain”, or “Oh you need essential fatty acids from nuts/seeds/avocados/seaweed/algae to help with your brain”…Like I said I tried those, and still felt the same.

    Point is, there is no one diet for everyone. I’ve reverted back into vegetarianism (I only eat “organic/free range” eggs, because the way I see it, it’s the LEAST cruel way I can be healthy/not totally conflict with my morals), mainly because I did not fare well on a vegan diet. I feel better, maybe not even optimal, and I’m sure many others felt the same way, and maybe even reverted back to an omnivorous diet. And yes I’m sure that many (maybe even a majority) people on this diet “didn’t do it right”, or they caved to their cravings, but these reasons alone cannot account for EVERY single person who has stopped being vegan…

    I’m all for not killing when it’s not needed, but the fact is vegan and vegetarianism is a relatively “new” thing (earliest “human-sort of” about 200,000 years ago omnivorous…vegetarian/vegan, 1800s?), and with such a small population of them to work with, it’s relatively untested. That’s not saying some people don’t thrive on a vegan diet, I’m positive many do (Mac Danzig, Brendan Brazier, Tony Gonzalez, etc..), and they might fare terrible on an omnivorous diet. But on the other side, there’s also people who fare terrible on a vegan diet, and excellent on a omnivorous one (many Olympic athletes). I think we owe it to ourselves to at the very least try out different diets, and see which one works best for us. Some do great with high fat/low carb, some with high carb/low fat, etc..

    One thing that is for certain is our population needs to stop eating so MUCH meat, stop eating dairy completely, and less processed foods.

    Also, one other thing. Being vegan is an ethical, almost spiritual choice, and everyone is entitled to that. But being that as it is, promoting it as “healthier than an omnivorous diet” is kind of vague. Is it healthier than the standard american diet? Pretty much a given, it definitely is. As for if it’s healthier than an omnivorous diet, that really depends on the person.

    Sorry for the rant, I envy you vegans. I may give it another shot, but I really am enjoying the clarity I have, and not feeling so confused or “lost” all the time…

    • herwin

      that’s an interesting post. :-) i certainly do agree with you that in general we eat TOO MUCH meat. So many people even cant imagine a meal without meat.
      just a small detail, vegetarianism kinda started in the 1800 in the west, but before that it already was alive and kicking in India for a couple of thousands of vegetarianism defenitely has been tested by the ages. ;-)

    • regina ripley

      not sure where you get your facts from but vegetarianism has been around just as long as meat eating has. If you really analyze key sayings in the bible, Jesus was a vegan. So, please dont give us that old tired “we are predators,therefore we must eat meat” You obviously did not eat correctly while being vegan thus the feeling of not being well. I dont care if most Americans eat tons of meat, i know in other countries there is not a mania for meat, nor dairy products. SOme of the strongest marathon runners come from Africa where many people subsist on a plant based diet and would put any American into the ground if we try to keep up with the level of physical activity. I am happy that your morality is strong and you are still striving to not eat meat. Because I feel the same way.

      • QRTY

        Jesus was a vegan?
        ever heard of “loaves and fishes”?

  • Darien Aybar

    Veganism, is not some hip fad of new:

    I will leave you with this story
    Almost 2,500 years ago, Plato wrote a dialogue between two characters
    Socrates and Glaucon, in which they discuss the future of their cities.

    Socrates says
    the cities should be simple, and the citizens should subsist on barley
    and wheat, with “relishes” of salt, olives, cheese and “country fare of
    boiled onions and cabbage,” with desserts of “figs, peas, beans,” roasted
    myrtle-berries and beechnuts, and wine in moderation

    Socrates says,

    “And thus, passing their days in tranquility and sound health, they will,
    in all probability, live to an advanced age …. ”

    But Glaucon replies that such a diet would only be appropriate for “a
    community of swine,” and that the citizens should live “in a civilized
    manner.” He continues, “They ought to recline on couches … and have
    the usual dishes and dessert of a modem dinner.”

    In other words,
    REPEATING HISTORIES the citizens should have the “luxury” of eating meat.

    Socrates replies,
    “if you wish us also to contemplate a city that is suffering from inflammation
    …. We shall also need great quantities of all kinds of cattle for
    those who may wish to eat them, shall we not?”

    Glaucon says, “Of course we shall.”

    Socrates then says, “Then shall
    we not experience the need of medical men also to a much greater extent
    under this than under the former regime?”
    Glaucon can’t deny it.
    “Yes, indeed,” he says.
    Socrates goes on to say that this luxurious city
    will be short of land because of the extra acreage required to raise animals
    for food. This shortage will lead the citizens to take land from others,
    which could precipitate violence and war, thus a need for justice.
    Furthermore, Socrates writes, “when dissoluteness and diseases abound
    in a city, are not law courts and surgeries opened in abundance, and do
    not Law and Physic begin to hold their heads high, when numbers even
    of well-born persons devote themselves with eagerness to these professions?”
    In other words, in this luxurious city of sickness and disease,
    lawyers and doctors will become the norm

    Plato, in this passage, made it perfectly clear: we shall eat animals
    only at our own peril. Though it is indeed remarkable that one of the
    greatest intellectuals in the history of the Western world condemned
    meat eating almost 2,500 years ago, I find it even more remarkable that
    few know about this history.
    Hardly anybody knows, for example, that
    the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, advocated diet as the chief
    way to prevent and treat disease or that George Macilwain knew that
    diet was the way to prevent and treat disease or that the man instrumental
    in founding the American Cancer Society, Frederick L. Hoffman,
    knew that diet was the way to prevent and treat disease.
    How did Plato predict the future so accurately? He knew that consuming
    animal foods would not lead to true health and prosperity. Instead,
    the false sense of rich luxury granted by being able to eat animals
    would only lead to a culture of sickness, disease, land disputes, lawyers
    and doctors. This is a pretty good description of some of the challenges
    faced by modern America!

    socrates, pythagrous, Albert Einstein, nilkoa tesla and many other historical figures although not nutritionists knew the merit of a plant based diet

    • Jenny

      Unfortunately, the problem with the above, is that it is a play, written by one man. Archaeological research of the skeletons of people across the social stratification show meat, grains etc in varying but never completely distinctive proportions in all levels of society, and that it was more a case of where you lived, and HOW you ate your food, not what it was, like eating BIGGER varieties of salted fish than poor people. not just not eating it at all.
      A lot of comedy plays at the time frowned upon the elite eating meat when the poorer classes did not because it did not promote the image of a democratic empire.
      Also, wars were constantly being fought on the fringes of the empire – Rome itself often went short on barley and wheat items, indeed the far reaches of the empire were often known as the “bread baskets” – so the above could even be propaganda to stop lower class agrarian communities in the fringes attempting to prosper and grow more wealthy through the use of their land for animals rather than the cereals that the elite were short on.
      Also, the ancient Greeks and Romans were not the best doctors. O-O
      All in all, not a very credible source, but I see your point!
      When it comes down to it – we evolved with incisors, and whilst I agree we eat too much, and the processes are wrong, it IS natural to get protein from meat, and not many nomadic cultures pre agriculture didn’t eat meat – at least none that have been found yet.
      I personally am anemic, and find not eating red meat (especially at certain times of the month :/) can be more trouble than it’s worth, although generally I try not to, as I will only buy locally reared and organic, and it gets expensive!!!

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  • Chris Bennett

    Brendan’s book is great and has a lot to offer athletes. I’ve done 5 x Ironman races as a vegetarian and thought I knew enough,but I’ve learned from the book. Be warned though, you will need to reduce the portions and doctor the recipes. I’m fortunate in that my wife runs a vegetarian bed and breakfast so I have a good cook on hand!