Vegan, Vegetarian Runners
Mary Jean Porter
Posted October 26, 2012
They aren't gazelles, but these fleet-footed, plant-eating runners do just fine.
Local physician Rocky Khosla, himself a longtime long-distance runner though a decided carnivore, said vegetarian runners "absolutely" can be healthy and perform well -- with a couple of caveats. "They have to make sure they are getting enough iron, which is easily obtained in meats, but vegetarians can get it if they have a well-balanced diet and are getting enough to eat. B12 deficiency and folate deficiency (are problems that) may not show up early on but down the line.
"Some vegetarian runners and triathletes do great and some don't do so well," Khosla said.
"From the perspective of decreased risk of heart disease and strokes, they do better than us meat eaters, but they have to be really committed to it to be sure they are getting the nutrients they need."
Khosla said his sports medicine practice includes "a bunch of vegetarian runners who are really committed to doing it right; lots are really great runners."
Vegan runners who eat no animal products at all are a different story, though.
"They may get into more trouble because it's a fairly extreme diet," he said. "It would make me wonder, 'Are we doing OK as far as folate deficiency, iron deficiency?' " Khosla thinks balance is the key.
"The best rule is middle of the road. If you eat meat, cut down on red meat, eat more chicken and fish," he said.
If there are vegetarian or vegan athletes at Colorado State University-Pueblo, they haven't identified themselves, said Claudia Walters, director of dining services for Chartwell's at the university. But there still are food choices for students/ athletes who want to skip the meat or not eat any animal products.
One food station has only vegan choices; eggs and omelets can be made to order at a breakfast station; cheese pizza is offered along with meat varieties; peanut butter and sometimes egg salad are at a deli bar for sandwiches; when stir-fry is served, tofu and all-veggie choices are offered in addition to meat; and when most students are requesting burgers at the grill station, a vegetarian can get a grilled cheese sandwich, Walters said.
©2012 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)
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