How easy is it for vegan cyclists, runners and triathletes to take on the nutrition they need in training and competition?
Once an obscure lifestyle choice, the vegan diet has definitely hit the mainstream in recent years. In the UK, vegan takeaway orders have more than quadrupled in only two years (source: The Vegan Society). There are four times as many vegans in 2019 as there were in 2014 and, according to a report by Sainsbury's, one in three of us have ceased or reduced meat consumption and by 2025 a quarter of us will be vegetarian.
High profile celebrities like the Williams sisters, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Meghan Markle (well, during the week) have shunned animal products in favour of a plant-based diet.
Whether you've chosen to adopt a fully vegan diet, or you just want to reduce your consumption of animal products, the good news is that it's now even easier than ever to ensure you get enough nutrients, protein and carbs to keep you at the top of your game.
Lots of the products we know and love from top brands including HIGH5, Science In Sport, Trek and Powerbar are already vegan, and many sports nutrition brands have recently added options that are made from only wholesome ingredients like fruit, nuts and cereals.
You might be surprised to learn how much variety there is for athletes choosing to go plant-based. Here are our favourite vegan sport nutrition products.
Vegan athletes at the top of their game
These days, the wide variety of plant-based food combined with an increased understanding of our nutritional requirements means that a vegan diet should not be detrimental to an athlete's performance. Here are some who are proving it.
By completing the 2018 Giro d'Italia, Aussie Adam Hansen had completed twenty consecutive Grand Tours, cycling's hardest stage races which run for three weeks each. That's almost seven years of three per year!
American ultra-runner Scott Jurek was the first North American to complete the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District in less than 24 hours, alongside fellow runner Rickey Gates. He also broke the speed record for the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail in 2015, completing it in 46 days, eight hours and seven minutes.
Joe has been a professional triathlete for 20 years and his top results include five wins at the Ironman 70.3 Boulder and a victory at the 2008 European Long Distance Triathlon Championships.
Our top nutrition picks for vegans
These soft, tasty bars have been made with natural ingredients like whole fruits and nuts. They contain no added sugar and provide the perfect balance of carbohydrates, essential proteins and fibre. Vegans can choose from Avanti (Dates, Pecans and Sea Salt) and Zenzero (Lemon, Ginger and Pistachios).
With 80g of carbohydrate per serving, this is the world's most carbohydrate-rich energy drink so it's perfect for those long training sessions. The unique formula converts to a hydrogel in the stomach so that energy can be absorbed into the body efficiently when you need it most.
A perennial best-seller, and for good reason. HIGH5 Zero tabs dissolve in water to make a tasty, refreshing zero-calorie drink that is packed with electrolytes and even a healthy dose of vitamin C. Each pack can flavour up to 15 litres of water.
After watching The Game Changers, Team Ineos rider Chris Froome announced on Instagram that he has switched to a vegan diet. Lucky for him, team nutrition supplier Science in Sport are ready to fuel him for the coming season with a range of vegan products.
This high-quality and versatile protein powder can be mixed into smoothies, cereals and even soups. The all-natural formula is soya- and gluten-free and is easily digestible.
These little packs of rocket fuel have been flavoured with natural fruit juice. Each serving delivers 20g of carbohydrates and 50 to 100g of caffeine, depending on which flavour you opt for.