Day in the Life 1; Endurance Athlete Brian Davidson

I am so incredibly stoked about today’s post. This project is over a year in the making and today it finally goes live!  I’ve been working closely with friend and videographer Sasha Perry on a ‘Day in the Life’ video series: I spend the day with a vegan athlete training, cooking and learning the ins and outs of their veganism.  Athletes have the most demanding nutrition needs and if veganism can work for them, it can work for you. I’m in a unique position as a Registered Dietitian and an athlete to both professionally evaluate their meals and to attempt their workouts. And it’s fun!

The first athlete in our series is a good friend of mine, Brian Davidson. This guy is incredible.  He’s an airplane mechanic, who spends the day on his feet wrenching on airplanes, yet still finds time to bike commute and train.  He does everything from water polo to iron-distance triathlons and has finished the 500-mile Furnace Creek 508 bike race twice. His Stokedtivity Levels are not only off the charts, but contagious!  He was nice enough to share his training and eating with us while we figured out how to make this show work. Thanks Brian, you rule!

Without further ado, here’s the 10-minute glimpse into Brian’s vegan lifestyle.  The recipes we make are below, along with nutrition information.

Are you stoked to eat and train? Here’s how you can eat like Brian:

Brian’s Super Breakfast Smoothie
5 bananas
½ cup peanut butter
1 ½ cups frozen blueberries

Add all ingredients to blender. Blend! Add water as needed. Drink.
Make sure your teeth aren’t purple before you go out.

Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 50%, Protein 10%, Fat 40%
Carbohydrate- 94g
Fat- 34g
Fiber- 15g
Iron- 1.6g

Nutrition Analysis- The simplicity of this smoothie is gold. Easy, low-cost, nutrient and calorically dense ingredients. It is very high in fat at 40%, but for someone like Brian who requires 4,000-5,000 calories a day eating a higher fat diet makes sense. I also like the flexibility of the recipe- you can sub another nut butter- almond, sunflower seed, cashew, etc or any frozen or fresh berries or fruits. And it’s a great use of over-ripe bananas!

Vegan Cashew Chicken Salad
16 ounces romaine hearts and/or salad greens
¼ cup cashews
2 roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup sliced carrots (optional: saute)
4 ounces vegan chicken strips, sauteed in a small amount of oil
2 tablespoons ginger miso dressing (optional: homemade dressing, recipes below!)

I love a slightly warm salad. Toss all of the room temperature ingredients and then add the vegan chicken and carrots, if sauteed.

Servings-1 big ass salad
Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 33%, Protein 15%, Fat 52%
Carbohydrate- 63g
Fat- 45g
Fiber- 25g
Iron- 10.2g, 57%, Calcium- 343g, 34%, Vitamin C- 80mg, 148%, Vitamin A- 500+%

Nutrition Analysis: This is a giant salad that’s packed with good nutrition. Twenty grams of protein! Take that, stupid naturopaths that say you can’t get enough protein from plant foods. Like his smoothie, this is very high in fat, a whopping 45 grams, mostly from the avocado and cashews. These are great polyunsaturated fats- heart healthy! Brian’s theme is adjustability- even though we asked him to have recipes and ingredients ready for the show, he actually did just make it up when we got there. And so can you, if you keep healthy ingredients on hand.

Brian ate mostly raw vegan for many years and he was cool enough pass on a few of his favorite raw dressings. Like Brian, these recipes are creative and flexible.

Raw Tahini Dressing
1/3 cup seseme seeds
1 clove garlic
1-2 fresh squeeze oranges (add or reduce for consistency)
(Sometimes I just use water and add until I get the right consistency)
Blend & enjoy!

Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 38%, Protein 10%, Fat 52%
Carbohydrate-  41g
Protein- 11g
Fat- 24g
Fiber-  10g
Iron 7.2g, 40% Calcium 566g, 57%, Zinc 3.9g, 26%

This dressing is not playing around- look at those numbers for iron, calcium and zinc! Sesame seeds are also a great source of B-vitamins. One note about the calcium is that this is for unhulled sesame seeds- most of the calcium is in the hull of the seed (see this note from a colleague).  They are sometimes labeled as ‘natural’ and raw ones are more likely to be unhulled. A benefit to making your own tahini dressing? Most tahini is made with hulled sesame seeds.

Raw Herb Dressing
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 bunch cilantro (or parsley, mint, thyme, oregano)
1-2 fresh squeezed oranges (add or reduce for consistency)
Blend & enjoy!

Calories- 210
Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 56%, Protein 10%, Fat 34%
Carbohydrate- 32g
Protein- 6g
Fat-  9g
Fiber-  8g
Iron 1.3g, Calcium- 119g, 12%

While this recipe is not the banger that the tahini one is, it’s still solid. Also a good source of B-vitamins, like Folate and B6 and vitamin K. Also has significantly fewer calories.

Next week comes part two, where we join Brian in Death Valley to see how he fares in his 200-mile race. Without giving too much away, let’s just say he made veganism look good. Like really, really good!  We’ll also include more details of his training, including a plan for you to ride your first 100+ mile event.

Thanks for watching and please pass this on to anyone who says, ‘You can’t be vegan and an athlete!’ We’re here to prove them wrong. Also, do you know a vegan athlete we should profile? Or other suggestions for our series? Please leave your comments below and thanks for watching!


Filed under Day in the Life, run, vegan

40 responses to “Day in the Life 1; Endurance Athlete Brian Davidson

  1. Good recipes. I exercise a lot. Yoga. Running etc. After reading the runners body by runners world. I realised there was no way I was eating enough. The right things but no where near. Nice to be inspired as I spend hours in kitchen cooking vegetarian and vegan food.

  2. sea shepherd for ever!!

  3. Jason

    Haven’t talked to you for along while….. Looks like your busy and doing well…. Keep it up bro… PA4LLIFE SON!

  4. Tracy

    Switch out your peanut butter for raw almond butter. For less fat in your smoothies, but extra calories, add dates. Also add organic kale or some other powerful greens.

  5. My 16 year old son is a competitive athlete and a vegetarian from birth. He gets nearly constant pressure from coaches and peers to eat meat for the sake of performance (and to make THEM more comfortable). It’s relentless. I really appreciate athletes who document their experiences so I can share this with the ignorant. Being a mom, coaches never believe that I know what I’m talking about, despite the fact that I know at least 10 times more about nutrition and health than they do.

    Major league pitcher Pat Neshek of the San Diego Padres turned vegan last year after reading The China Study. He is very open about it. I would LOVE to see an interview with him on here.

    Thanks again for what you do!

  6. Hey Matthew,

    Stoked to learn about you and your work. Linked to you via Vegan Post Punk Kitchen, my favorite cookbook.

    I’m studying to become an RD in South Louisiana, not a vegan friendly place. I also own a yoga studio and teach yoga & ayurveda.

    Love the video and will share. Louisiana is a meat obsessed place.


  7. Jonathan

    Hi there. I have been following your blog (no whip, too) for a while. I appreciate hearing what other vegan athletes eat on endurance rides and while prepping for bigger events. Keep it up and thanks for the radness!

  8. John merryfield

    Matt- I’m 45 years old, been vegetarian for 26 years, vegan for the last 6 years. I surf, kite surf, and paraglide big mountains. I stand-up paddle 72 miles around lake tahoe every year to raise awareness to end cruelty to farm animals. I’ve completed the paddle in 3 days, last year 2 days, this year ?? Want to come to lake tahoe to film?

  9. Nice idea, interesting to see vegan athletes sharing there training & cooking habits.

    Being a vegan runner, my self, that’s nice to see that I’m not alone -_^

    Very good advices (on cross training, especially cycling for runners… & on the “simplistic” & straight forward approach of running… no need for fancy apparels, just be comfortable, have fun & enjoy).


  10. Ryan Andrews

    This is such a great idea. Thanks for posting.

  11. Neal Sivula


    Ditto. Great idea, and a great start. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  12. LOVE this video!!! What a great idea for a video series! can’t wait for the next ones!!

  13. Cathy

    I really enjoyed the video and I look forward to the next one.

    Cathy Bowers, RD

  14. This video is awesome! Thanks for sharing…I love when people showcase the strength and endurance of vegan athletes!

  15. DE

    G’day Matt, great concept. Keep’em coming.
    One quick question about the ‘chicken salad’ recipe. What is a ‘vegan chicken strip’? Is it a meat substitute?

  16. Jack

    Thanks for video. I am a vegan cyclist at age 57. I get the same story about protein all the time. I am stronger now, than I have ever been in my life as a vegan. Also, Gardein makes a great ” vegan chicken strips” for stir fry or salad.

  17. Dustin Rhodes

    I posted this video on Facebook, and the husband of one of my friends (he’s a 36 year old ultra-marathoner) was so inspired he went vegan, on the spot.

    Thanks for making this. It’s perfection.


  18. C.G. in the S.D.

    Matt – Can’t wait for more videos! Liked the comment about how kids are so active and it just seems normal – cool to keep that kid-like stoke and energy level as you get older. It isn’t ultra or X-treme, it is normal and fun!

  19. Martha deCampos

    Hey Matt,
    Great idea! Not even out of breath with the two of you running and talking! Recipes look really tasty. I look forward to seeing other videos.

  20. Matt, just printed out the recipes! Thanks for an amazing video.

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  23. Vanessa

    I love this! I was just thinking how I wanted to make a website featuring vegan athletes and here it is! I am more of a weekend warrior athlete. My friends and I just did the Tough Mudder SoCal on Saturday. We had an all vegan team “Vegan Grit”. We kicked ass and had everyone talking about how awesome our team was. Love showing people what awesome athletes vegans can be.

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  25. Harrie

    Hi Matt,

    Quick question on the smoothie recipe, the calorie count is 740. Is this for 2 servings or for one?


  26. Thanks for this, Matt and Sasha, I definitely am stoked for future episodes of this sort of content. Rockin’.

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  30. Richard

    Haven’t you all read “The 80/10/10” Diet by ~DR. Douglas Graham? THis is the BEST WAY TO BE A VEGAN ATHLETE! REad it! this has all been done before and better.

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