Rowing is a hard-core sport. It’s a heavy cardio workout that works all the major muscle groups. Rowers burn a lot of calories even during a regular row in their local waterway. How about an ocean crossing? One estimate is about 12,000 calories per day per rower. According to physicscentral.com, who made the calculation in terms of burgers, it would take 2,400 cheese burgers for the crossing! Or about 3,400 veggie burgers!
On January 18, 2018 two brothers began their attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat. They happen to be vegan. “Ocean Brothers” Greg Bailey, 27, and Jude Massey, 18, are making the crossing to raise awareness–not of vegan diets, but of skin cancer, the disease that claimed the life of their father.
The voyage began out of the island of Gran Canaria (93 miles off the northwestern coast of Africa) and will terminate in Barbados, anywhere from 5 to 11 weeks later. They will be rowing 24 hours a day, taking turns rowing in one-hour shifts around the clock. And they’ll need to consume a ton of calories, but there won’t be a gram of animal protein in their freeze-dried meals. We’ll be checking in on their voyage from time to time to see how they’re faring. There have been 317 Atlantic Crossings in a rowing boat since the first successful voyage by two Norwegian-born Americans in 1896.
Veg Athletes on the Rise
Veg athletes are in the news more and more these days. The only male weightlifter for the USA in the 2016 Olympics, Kendrick Farris, is vegan. Ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, of Eat and Run fame, is vegan. Ironman Brendan Brazier, vegan. Tennis stars Martina Navratilova is vegetarian and Venus Williams is vegan. Many veg athletes say their diet helps their performance, aids in quicker recovery and generally makes them feel better. And as one vegan athlete put it, a vegan diet “eliminates the middle man”. Plant power goes directly to the athlete rather than through the costly and cruel meat option.
But following a vegan diet does have its caveats, whether you’re an athlete or not. Vitamins B12 and D can be harder to obtain and absorb in vegan diets. Protein intake isn’t a problem for normal vegans, but for extreme athletes, it may be. Just consuming the right amount of calories can be harder as a vegan, and an athlete’s caloric requirement is even higher. Make sure you’re getting enough calories, and a good ratio of carbs to fat to protein.
How much protein?
According to VeganHealth.org, the protein needs of athletes is .8 – 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So for a 180 pound man, that translates to about 65 grams of protein per day. A modest breakfast of oatmeal with almonds is about 15g. A quinoa bowl for lunch –18g. Snack on a banana with peanut butter, for about 9g. Vegan chili with tempeh or tofu for dinner (Recipe to come) is 24g. Daily total? 66 grams.
So, Ocean Brothers Jude and Greg aren’t undertaking an epic row across the Atlantic to prove that vegans can and do perform at a high level. They are likely more concerned with dangerous storms, high winds, equipment failure or even sharks, than their meat-free diet. Best of luck, guys! We’re rooting for you!
- A great resource if you’re an athlete who’s thinking about going vegan, is No-Meat Athlete’s guide to vegetarian diets. Why not try it for a week? If that goes well, how about 10 days? Or a month?
- Already vegan? What do you eat before a race? Here’s a guideline for sports nutrition for vegans.
- Protein and amino acid content in common plant-based food.
- Here’s a list of high-protein plant-based foods to help.