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Brendan Brazier was only 15 when he decided to take his running talent and turn it into a career. Within a year, he was competing in junior triathlons across his native Canada, and doing it on a diet that his own coaches warned him against adopting: Brazier had gone vegan.
No matter what you think of his diet, Brazier did something right. Over a 10 year career, he won dozens of events, including back-t0-back victories at the Canadian Ultra 50Km Championship Race. Brazier seemed unstoppable, until a mild back injury from a car accident in 2004 sidelined him from serious competition. Forced to lie low, Brazier wrote a nutrition book, Thrive, and launched Vega, a line of all-vegan energy bars and protein powders.
I’ve been vegan for 10 years myself, but even I was taken aback reading about Brazier’s typical daily dining. The 33-year-old rarely eats soy, bread or sugar, in addition to the usual vegan no-no’s of meat, dairy and animal by-products. His diet staples include protein smoothies, raw energy bars and plenty of fresh produce.
When we sat down for lunch at Caravan of Dreams, a vegan restaurant on the lower east side, Brazier talked at length about his dislike of veganism being misconstrued as a “diet” or “detox”, most recently by Oprah and the Skinny Bitch book series. In keeping with his “food is fuel” philosophy, Brazier shoveled down a remarkable amount of food, and his muscular physique is hardly that of a diet fanatic.
Click here to read more about Brendan’s take on nutrition. While there aren’t any major scientific studies to back up his claims (The American Dietetic Association acknowledges the health benefits, like lower cholesterol and reduced risk of some cancers, of a vegan, but not raw, diet), Brazier himself is anectodal evidence that a vegan, raw-foods diet may have some merit.
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