runner vegetarian from birth
Sandeep Kumar is a leading ultra trail and mountain runner in India. He tackles some of the toughest course, recording remarkable times and taking numerous victories.
- Leading Indian ultramarathon runner
- National record holder over 100 km
- International competitor at Comrades Ultra and World Trail Championships
In 2018 he was the fastest Indian of all time at the famous 90 km Comrades Ultra Marathon. This was the 48th fastest time in the race’s 93 year history. In the following year he recorded the Fastest Known Time at the 50 km Hell Ultra Rohtang Epic. He also competed at the Trail World Championships. Sandeep later competed internationally at the 100 km Asia-Ociana Championships and was 8th overall.
2020 saw Sandeep run a 2:57 marathon to take third in age group at the Mumbain marathon. In 2021 he broke the national record for 100km (7:56) and won the AMD 12 hour stadium run.
In 2022 he won the 22km AqburaBay Mountain race and took second at the Sinhagad Epic Trail. Age group wins at both the New Delhi and Bengaluru marathons reduced his personal best to 2:46. Sandeed returned to the 100 km Stadium run to take second.
Sandeep is an ethical vegan and has been since 2015. He was born into a vegetarian family and has never eaten meat.
“Initially my decision was based on sports performance” he says. “But later on I realised that I never ate meat in life time. I was very proud of it. Also I got to know that just being vegetarian isn’t satisfactory for me in terms of compassion and environmental conscious person. Then instantly in mid 2015 I became ethically vegan.”
Sandeep grew up on a farm, working with cows.
“I was born in family involved in raising animals for milk. I was brainwashed to get programmed that it’s normal to chain them and milk them everyday. The time I moved to city for work and athletics my eyes got opened. After that everything changed. Even my whole family is almost vegan.”
Now Sandeep eats mostly unprocessed foods.
A typical pre workout is black coffee and one soaked fig, five peeled almonds, five black raisins, two walnuts and a banana. Afterwards he often eats plant protein and an apple.
Breakfast can be quick and simple: oatmeal, vegetable oats, sprouts or salad. If he’s in a hurry it can be muesli. At mid morning he often has some coconut water.
For lunch a typical meal is two multigrain slices of bread with any green vegetable (something leafy is preferred). He may also have a bowl of pulses, 100g of peanut curd and 50g beans with salad.
Evening snacks may be a handful of roasted grams and peanuts. Sometimes he has an almond butter, toast sandwich. Sandeep also enjoys a whole wheat bread sandwich with vegetable and 50g Tofu, and maybe some lemon water.
A good dinner may be vegetable rice or pulao and veg soup. Sometimes he has beans cooked with rice and Bottle guard soup.
“I conduct vegan outreaches and potluck” Sandeep says. “Also I help other athletes to turn vegan and guide general populations to take health benefits of plant based diet.”
Unsurprisingly, Sandeep has a demanding training programme.
On Wednesday he runs intervals at 10k pace and does strength work with weights.
On Thursday he runs 14km. “The mid 11k is at Marathon goal pace.” Afterwards he works on upper body strength and on Friday he works on core strength. Saturday is the day for a recovery run and some mobility work and he takes on a long run of 32 km on Sunday. Afterwards he does some yoga.
Sandeep is continuing to draw on his personal strength to train and compete in the most demanding of events. He is proud to do this as a vegan runner.
“Your achievements are only valid when you are self sufficient” he says. “Isn’t it bogus to claim great heights since you are feeding on others (food).”
“My best performance demands wildest and beast side of myself and beast feeds on natural and real foods.”
“We humans are animals first. And I feel proud to be care taker of them.”
“Veganism isn’t just a trend, it’s a way of life. One stop solution of all problems on this planet.”