David Verburg, vegan track athlete

David has become a high profile athlete in track and field, competing internationally.  He has competed over several distances with most success over 400 metres individually and in 4 x 400 metres relay.  In the 2016 Rio Olympics he helped the US team to the Gold medal.  He’s also been part of three gold medal winning relay teams at the World Championships.

David successfully completed the transition to veganism after reconsidering his relationship with animals.

Vegan runner

“It started because I do a lot of work with rescues and am a big advocate for animals” David explained. “I love animals, but then I’d turn around and eat one. So, I thought, I should probably change this.”

  • Olympic medallist
  • World Championship Gold medallist, 4 x 400 metres
  • Famous for rescuing a tortoise!

David featured on TV news stories when he was filmed rescuing a tortoise who had strayed onto a busy road.

“I began reading about the health benefits and figured that it would be possible to do, even as an athlete,” Verburg told Runner’s World. “I eased into it—I became pescatarian then vegetarian.” By 2018 he was vegan. “Within six months, I made the full transition to vegan. Once I tried it, I noticed an increase in my energy, and it’s been great so far.”

“I’ll start off my day with some type of fruit smoothie. From there, my breakfast usually varies depending on what my workouts will be for the day. Sometimes I’ll have oatmeal and berries with coffee, or toast and a bowl of fruit. If I’m feeling bougie, I’ll whip up roasted potatoes and avocado toast. If it’s a speed day, I tend to stick with oatmeal because its lighter, if I have weights that day—avocado toast.”

After a workout David often has an almond milk shake with peanut butter, oatmeal, and a scoop of cocoa powder.

“Recently, I’ve been eating a whole lot of tofu for lunch. I also have a kale salad with sweet potatoes. With every meal I drink two glasses of water. That way, if I don’t drink any other water throughout the day like I’m supposed to, I at least know I’ll have six glasses. I also add cucumber and mint or strawberries to my water. I don’t really love drinking plain water, I get tired of it.”

David also makes his own trail mix and has discovered impossible burgers too.  He likes roasted sweet potatoes, “and leafy green veggies like kale, romaine mixed with cabbage, and I make sure to get in protein, carbs, and veggies.”

The work ethic

There are no issues sustaining David’s training, which is going from strength to strength.  He originally started running to benefit his performance in soccer and American football, and developed some impressive results.  Throughout the season he spends two hours per day on the track, and two in the gym. 

“I give 100% in the weight room and on the track at all times – until I have nothing left.” He says.  “I was told countless times I would never make it. Now years later I have accomplished things people never believed I ever could. All because of a combination of great coaching and a hard work ethic.”

During 2020 when the Coronavirus led to gym closures, he moved to bodyweight training.  He’s also built up a collection of free weights at home, and while the track was closed he ran in parks.

The delay to the Olympics was a setback for all athletes involved, David included.   Despite the disruption David is focused on the games when they occur and on his own training in preparation.  The vegan fuel is a big part of that.

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