Athlete: Forget meat; go for the fruit and veggies |

Athlete: Forget meat; go for the fruit and veggies

Susan Wood

Provided to the Tahoe Daily Tribune

As meat recalls and other tainted food reports have grabbed the headlines in recent days, one athletic movement may be gaining steam and power from an unlikely source – plants.

Bradley Saul, a Sonoma County man who identifies himself as a “professional organic athlete,” will present how he sustains himself on a plant-based diet while riding on the OrganicAthlete Cycling Team. Saul runs the nonprofit company, which keeps itself going through grants, donations and dues from 450 members.

With a growing interest over the last few decades in events like the Ironman, Eco Challenge and other ultra competitions that test the extent of human endurance, the common notion was held that meat, beans and soy products were the only sources of protein to keep the body going.

Standing over 6 feet tall and weighing 165 pounds, Saul says he has debunked the theory with claims he gets all the protein he needs from his massive diet of fruits and vegetables. He buys several cases of peaches, nectarines and apricots to consume over the week and balances the fruit with a big salad made with three heads of lettuce. No Gatorade or Cytomax. He just plops dates in his water and refrains from drinking milk and alcohol. He’ll occasionally throw in sweet potatoes to the diet as a treat.

Saul insists he doesn’t get tired of the limited diet.

“People think they’re weak in energy from the lack of protein, but usually it’s because they don’t eat enough. It’s the most common myth. Protein is a non-issue as long as whole plant foods are eaten,” he said. “Rather than eating pasta, I’ll eat 20 peaches.”

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Now sporting a Calfee bike made of bamboo – voted best of in three categories at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, Saul, 29, started riding competitively and professionally in 1996.

“I always ate healthy, and I read fruits and vegetables are the healthiest foods you can eat,” he said of becoming a vegan six years later.

Along the way, he met Dr. Doug Graham, who works with the diets of athletes.

Saul’s mission in life is to educate people about the organic plant lifestyle.

Barton Registered Dietitian Lynn Norton said nutritionists try to keep an open mind to alternative types of dietary habits, but she cautioned against the one- size-fits-all mentality.

“People don’t get protein from just meat and dairy, but there’s no protein in fruit. With grains and vegetables, you just have to eat more. He might consume two to three times as many calories as the average person. But for the public, we’re cautious about restrictive diets,” she said. “Everybody is different. For a pregnant woman, she might not be getting enough iron.”

Still, Norton said she’d like “to hear what he has to say.”

Plant-based nutrition for the organic athlete

A free talk by professional vegan athletes

June 13, 6:30 p.m.

Lake Tahoe Community College

Student Center Cafeteria

Presented by: A.W.A.R.E. (Advocates for Wellness, Animal Rights and the Environment)