Vegan CrossFitter / Mad Scientist: What a Vegan Athlete Eats

What a Vegan Athlete Eats

By David J. Ley

I’m not going to lie, I have been asked many times what I eat during my training runs. And while it’s true that I don’t go out and buy any special foods or anything like that, there are still some things I make sure to pack into my bag just in case.

So here they are:

1) A small container of peanut butter (or other nut butters).

I’ve found that if I need something quick, like when I’m running long distances, then a little bit of peanut butter helps me stay focused. Also, it keeps my stomach full so that I won’t feel hungry after each run.

2) A couple bars of chocolate milk.

I usually keep one bar in my water bottle and the other in my hydration pack. These two items give me energy throughout the day and are great for keeping me from getting too tired.

3) A few granola bars.

Granola bars provide a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats to your diet. They’re also very filling which makes them perfect for fueling up before a run or race!

4) Some applesauce packets.

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These come in very handy when I’m in a bind and don’t have access to water or anything to eat. They’re easy on the stomach and they provide a quick boost of energy.

5) A few bags of trail mix.

This stuff is a good source of fiber and protein which are both essential for proper digestion. It also helps to curb my appetite in between meals and snacks.

What types of food do you like to keep in your bag?

Famous Vegan CrossFitter: Rich Froning, Jr.

Rich has been a vegetarian since his high school years and more recently became vegan. He has had great success in the Crossfit Games in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

He won first place in 2011 and also holds several records. I’m sure his diet has something to do with his athletic abilities!


What is your favorite breakfast?

My favorite breakfast has to be toast with peanut butter and jelly. I usually use one tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter on whole grain bread with grape jelly. This breakfast is a great way to start the day and keeps my stomach full until lunchtime.

What is your pre-workout meal?

Before my workouts I usually just eat a bowl of cereal or an apple. Both are great sources of quick energy and will power me through my training sessions.

What is your post workout meal?

After my workouts I usually rush home and immediately slam down a protein shake with a slice of toast and a banana. Later, I will have a full meal that’s comprised of brown rice, sweet potatoes, sauteed greens, and some type of lean meat.

What is your favorite meal?

My all-time favorite meal has to be pasta and pesto. I can’t get enough of this pairing. Pasta is easy to make and tastes great. Pesto can liven up the meal with its flavorful twist. I try to eat this meal at least once every week.

What is your least favorite meal?

It might not be a popular opinion, but I’m not a big fan of Mexican food. I think that the food tends to be too greasy and heavy. I would prefer to eat something else that is less spicy and has a lighter taste.

What are your thoughts on food combining?

Food combining is when you mix foods in a certain way in order to optimize the digestive process. Some people believe that we should only eat certain foods together while excluding others. I’ve tried many different diets in my past and food combining has been the toughest to follow. It’s hard to find a meal that fits the guidelines and still tastes good.

What is your favorite vegan restaurant?

My favorite vegan restaurant has got to be Native Foods. They have multiple locations throughout the US and offer a wide array of menu choices. The best part about this place is that everything on the menu is vegan, but even I can’t tell that it is!

What is your favorite vegan food?

My favorite meal has got to be vegetable lo mein. It’s a simple meal made with wheat noodles, mixed vegetables, and a delicious soy sauce. I will always order this meal when I see it on a menu.


Do you think that eating meat is essential to getting enough protein?

I don’t think eating meat is essential to getting enough protein. There are many other great sources of protein such as pinto beans, quinoa, lentils, nuts, and so much more. These can be used in different combinations to make a myriad of tasty meals.

What do you think about supplements?

Supplements are not a replacement for a balanced diet. They can be useful especially for people who don’t get enough nutrients from their food. However, most of the time the pills are very expensive and not worth the money spent. I would rather people spend that money on whole foods.

Do you take any supplements?

I currently take protein shakes after my workouts in order to speed up my recovery process. I also will take a multivitamin in the morning with breakfast. That’s it.

Do you think that a vegan diet can provide enough energy for CrossFit?

Absolutely! One of the reasons I became vegan is because it increases my energy levels and helps me become a better athlete. As long as you’re constantly eating and consuming enough calories, there is no reason that being vegan can hinder your training.


Being an elite athlete and following a plant-based diet may seem too good to be true for some people. We often hear about how eating meat, or starving yourself will improve our athletic abilities.

Vegan CrossFitter / Mad Scientist: What a Vegan Athlete Eats - GYM FIT WORKOUT

The reality is that unless you have the genes of a world-class athlete, none of that matters. You just need to consistently put in the work and eat enough calories so your body has the energy it needs to complete your workouts. If anything, eating a plant-based diet is more beneficial for athletic performance.

If I can achieve the goals I’ve set with a plant-based diet, then anyone can.

In the next edition of Food for Thought, I’ll answer five questions about my plant-based kitchen.

What do I eat and how do I cook it?

You’ll soon find out.

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Sources & references used in this article:

Orthorexia: eating right in the context of healthism by C Hanganu-Bresch – Medical humanities, 2020 –


Eat To Perform by P Nobles –