Q&A With Plant-Fuelled Paralympian Dave Smith

Posted by on September 5, 2014 | Permalink

Dave Smith, MBE, is an athlete who has triumphed over adversity time and time again. His many impressive achievements include representing Team GB in the able-bodied karate and bobsleigh events and overcoming a spinal tumour to win a gold medal for rowing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games – as well as saving hundreds of animals by following a vegan diet!  We caught up with him to talk about how ditching meat, dairy products and eggs has contributed to his success.

Dave celebrates gold medal at London 2012

What inspired you to go vegan?

It was originally for my health and sporting performance – however, it has grown from that to being based on ethical views, also.

Did you notice any benefits to your athletic abilities after switching to a plant-based diet?

Absolutely – I noticed right away that I had more focus and reduced recovery times and generally felt lighter from the inside. My body also didn’t have to use so much energy to absorb food anymore.

What’s your favourite fuel, snack or meal before activity?

For me, some sessions are 100 miles on the bike, so I need energy. I like to make a blend of lots of veg with some fruit. I love bananas, so I have lots of them with almond milk, dates and strawberries. I juice and blend all the time.

Many top Olympians – including sprinter Carl Lewis, cyclist Lizzie Armitstead and bobsled champion Alexey Voyevoda – are vegetarian or vegan. Do you think we’re likely to see more meat-free athletes in the future?

Yes, I think as more athletes realise the benefits of this lifestyle and the positive impact it can have on your health, we will hopefully see more switches.

What advice would you give to anyone who is curious about going vegan but doesn’t know where to start?

I would say, get the PETA vegan starter kit and have a read, then slowly start to add good plant-based foods to your lifestyle. I like to think of it as crowding out the bad stuff. The more good plant-based foods you bring into your kitchen, the more your body will start to crave them, and before you know it, you will be 90 per cent plant-based. Then it’s just making that last step when you’re ready to go to 100 per cent. There are lots of good books on recipes, and I went from not being able to cook to now cooking amazing meals every night.

What’s your next athletic goal(s)?

My next athletic goal is to make it to Rio 2016 on the bike and try to win a medal to go with the rowing one from London 2012.

Vegan athlete Dave Smith training in cycling


We’ll be rooting for Dave at Rio 2016! To learn more about switching over to a plant-based diet that’s good for your body, the planet and animals, order our free vegan starter kit here:

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