What Does a Vegan Marathoner Eat?

Gene Baur is a plant-powered dynamo. A vegan for more than 30 years, Gene is living proof that athletes can thrive on a plant-based diet. In addition to running multiple marathons,  Gene has completed an Ironman, which is a marathon preceded by a 112-mile bike ride and a 2.4 mile swim. What does Gene eat to fuel up for race day? We caught up with him as he trains for the Catalina Marathon to find out.


How many marathons have you run on a 100% plant-based diet?

Five: Washington, DC; Richmond, VA; Los Angeles, CA; Boston, MA; New York, NY

The Catalina Marathon on March 19 will be my sixth marathon, and it’s a trail marathon, unlike the previous 5 which were on roads. I’m looking forward to running on trails and the scenic vistas of Catalina Island.

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As a marathoner, your dietary needs are different from the average person. How do you get enough protein to keep you going?

As I’ve started running marathons and doing other endurance events, the main dietary adjustment I’ve had to make is to eat more food in order to support the significant energy required to train and complete these events. When training, I try to eat nutrient dense deep leafy greens and will sometimes eat nuts or nut butters to add calories. For protein rich foods, I eat tofu, tempeh and other soy foods as well as all kinds of beans.

For some of Gene’s favorite recipe, check out his book Living the Farm Sanctuary Life.


shutterstock_100929736What does a typical day of eating look like for you while you’re training?

Breakfast: toast or oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit, and coffee with soymilk

Lunch: large arugula salad with various veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans

Dinner: Baked tofu, beets, and steamed broccoli

Between meals, I might have snacks like fruit (orange, apple, kiwi, banana), carrots, and hummus.


How do other runners react when they find out you’re vegan?

Different runners respond in different ways, but they tend to be curious about what I eat. There is a growing interest, including among omnivores, about the many benefits of plant foods. I love talking to people about how arugula, beets and chia seeds can boost athletic performance, for example, and how drinking coconut water is good for both hydration and replacing electrolytes.


What is the #1 tip you’d give to a runner who’d like to transition to a plant-based diet?

I would encourage people not to worry. It is easy to get everything you need by eating a variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

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On March 19, Gene will be running in the Catalina Marathon on behalf of Farm Sanctuary. Support his run!