Of Cycling and Cheeseburgers

Before I started cycling I was a vegetarian/ pescetarian for many years. It began by accident: I was on a research trip in Moscow in 1999 and got food poisoning after eating a meat dish at a restaurant. It was pretty bad, though to be fair I can't even be sure it was due to the meat. Could have been the salad or an unwashed fork, who knows. Still, for a while afterward I felt sick whenever I looked at or smelled meat, so I stopped eating it. Eventually the effect wore off, but the vegetarian habit remained. I did not crave meat products, and I felt healthier not eating them. Attempts to coax me back into carnivorism were unsuccessful. I could watch others eat meat and even cook meat for guests without being tempted in the least. I was pretty sure this was a permanent lifestyle change.

It was a couple of years ago that for the first time I found myself "tasting" little morsels of the Co-Habitant's food (invariably meat dishes) when we ate together. I did not want any, mind you, I just felt like a little taste. I also began to notice that these cravings coincided with bike rides. Interesting. No doubt what I was really craving was salt and protein - not necessarily meat. So I ate more salt and protein as I struggled with this unfamiliar new attraction to meatballs and burgers and barbecued ribs. And steak. And paper thin slices of prosciutto. And spicy chicken wings. And hot dogs... One day, after an especially strenuous bike ride we went out to dinner and I just couldn't take it anymore. The smell of meat that had once made me respond with disgust, then indifference, now filled me with longing. I ordered lamb instead of my usual falafel. I still remember how those fragrant, lightly charred bits looked upon my plate. And so ended over a decade of vegetarianism.

I am bewildered by my current love affair with meat. Content for so long to live off lentils, walnuts, vegetable omelets and occasional salmon, I now fantasise about full Irish breakfast, black pudding included. The more I cycle, the worse it gets. The Co-Habitant thinks it's hilarious, but I am rather ashamed. I think vegetarianism is ultimately the healthier diet, and I feel sorry for the little animals. The tasty little animals.... See?! This is terrible. I know there are many vegetarian and even vegan cyclists out there. And they are probably very disappointed to be reading this. But I have to tell it like it is. After riding my bike, I dream of cheeseburgers.


  1. makes me wish I could get my vegetarian wife more into cycling.

  2. I can only speak for myself...Not disappointed in the least. As a former vegi of 20+ years including a 4 year stint as a vegan I can say with all honesty that I have never felt better about my eating choices now that I eat omnivorously again. sustainable farming and ranching practices are coming back in a big way and it's getting easier and easier to get humanely raised, stupid tasty products! Look at US Wellness online for a great source, and check out MarksDailyApple.com for the scientific verification that as humans we were literally designed from the ground up to be omnivores.

    Then go have bacon and eggs for breakfast!


  3. Probably has little to do with cycling, and more with ambience. I've been a vegetarian for just a year longer than I've been a utility and recreational cyclist, so over 45 years, and have never felt the craving for meat. Riding between 400 and 800 miles a month for the last twenty years or so, with lots of walking too. I became a vegetarian not out of any disgust, momentary or durable--I am from Argentina, after all, and used to eat a couple of steaks for breakfast as a 12 year old--but for a variety of philosophical reasons. In other words, I actively wanted to become a vegetarian. It's also healthier and "greener," but those were not among my original reasons, though they are now.

    My wife's an assertive omnivore, but the presence of her occasional meat dishes at home, and inevitable ones when we go out, never tempts me. For me, vegetarianism, like cycling and some other parts of my life, expresses fundamental feelings I have about the world.

    Since at 58 I can ride fixed gears on long, long rides through hill country, obviously it doesn't affect my cycling--and my cycling doesn't affect my dietary cravings, which have been consistent over nearly half a century.

    To each his own...I dream of curries while riding!

  4. Peppy (the also, isn't it time to feed me cat)December 30, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    *trill* *purrr* Can I has cheeseburger? *trill*

  5. Anon 12:19 - But why would you want your wife to give up her preferred diet? When I was a vegetarian I really did not appreciate friends and family trying to convert me back to meat eating (and I never tried to convince others that they should be vegetarians).

  6. "To each his own...I dream of curries while riding!"

    Oh yes. Lamb curries...

  7. I can only go for a few days without chicken or beef. I too feel bad for the animals......

  8. When you became a vegetarian, you were listening to your body (in a visceral, emotional sense). When you started craving meat again, you were listening to your body (perhaps in response to changes in exercise). The directives our bodies give us change with age, with experiences (such as your food poisoning), and exercise. We need to listen to them.

    Me? I experimented with vegetarianism in college, as nothing more than an intellectual curiosity. It lasted a few months. I'm a meat eater for sure, but I don't crave it daily. I have meat about 3-4 times a week, which is about as often as I want it. For most other meals, I enjoy Mediterranean and Near-Eastern (curries, yum!) inspired grain and legume dishes.

    I won't get into the politics of food.

  9. I've noticed vegetarians tend to shut up about their choices when facing "epic sufferfests".

    There legions of career girls around here who eat crackers and apples all day trying to get skinny, then gorge on chocolate and candy, get high on it, crash and get all bitchy. But I digress...

    Point is, you can sit at a desk and subsist on legumes and it's "healthy", twiddle pedals a few miles in transpo mode and all is good.

    Need to put some power down for hours? Welcome to the top of the food chain.

  10. @veloria, I don't ever press my wife on her diet, anymore. Just wish she would return to the abattoir sometimes. Or that she would become infected with cycling as you are. Her dad was a butcher after all and her husband attempts to define himself with bicycles.

    - anon 12:19

  11. "There legions of career girls around here who eat crackers and apples all day trying to get skinny, then gorge on chocolate and candy, get high on it, crash..."

    Yeah. I think this is a big problem. I've known lots of women who use vegetarianism as basically an excuse for extreme dieting.

    But there are also serious athletes who make sure to eat complete and nutritious meals. No crackers or chocolate for dinner.

  12. It's your instinctive memories of persistence hunting. After grinding out miles and miles of effort, your inner cro-magnon feels she should have a tasty prey animal to show for it ;-)

    Or, your lifestyle changed, and your body reacted in its own particular way. Some folks ride or run for hours and want meat, some folks do the same and want veggies. Me? I crave pizza.

  13. Mmmmmm.....lamb.... When I went back to meat after many years of vegetarianism, I craved meat like crazy. I used to joke that it was like a new drug and if I could do lines of ground beef I would!

  14. One thing about doing long rides and brevets for me is that it really got me to understand how certain moods, attitudes and cravings that I had were really just tied to nutrient deficiencies -- ways that my body was just responding or signaling a need for protein or salt or fat.

    Once, while doing a 300k, on the last 50 miles, I had developed a massive craving for barbecue and I sold my friend on the idea of stopping at Blue Ribbon in Arlington after finishing the ride. So, we stopped and ordered full racks of ribs for ourselves, ate maybe half and then lost our appetite. We had conflated a significant protein deficiency with hunger, and once that deficiency was sated, the appetite left as well.

    The body says 'protein' and the mind thinks "oh, what's most recently associated with efficient protein consumption? Oh, the meatastically meaty meat thing that I can think of." so in those cases, it might be useful to just take a step back and think, if I have a craving for hamburger is that because I need protein to rebuild muscles that are depleted after a long a ride? Or is it because I need fat? Or is it the carbs in the bun? Or may be all of the above? Then, how to do that without meat?

    ... but then, that might fall into the being too regimented in one's diet, which I know you've naturally resisted in the past ;p

    btw, both FixiePixie and I know at least one randonneur (and cyclocross racer) who is vegan/vegetarian. So it can be done. It i,s however, uncommon.

  15. Cris - I think you are spot on.

    Oddly, I know quite a few vegetarian/vegan cyclists, including racers and long distance cyclists. I do think it can be done. But clearly I am not committed/motivated enough.

  16. Matt DeBlass said...
    "some folks do the same and want veggies. Me? I crave pizza."

    But I thought that the USA recently re-classified pizza as vegetable?!
    That's my kind of vegetarianism :-)

  17. Oh yeah, forgot about my name...

    Boing! That's the sound of a bonk.

    Dinner is just a time release capsule.

    Zabriskie tried to be a vegetarian last year, don't know if he made it through the season like that.

  18. Shawn and I are both vegetarians (I am mostly vegan to boot)...him for more than a decade, myself for a little less than a decade. My preference for vegan foods frequently slipped on tour just because of the options available to me: "I'm starving and this place sells donuts, I want donuts!" Goddamn you, Tim Hortons! You and your Timbits!

    It makes sense that you would crave meat after a ride. It's extremely calorie and nutrition dense. It's also usually salty, and I for one crave salt like a fiend after a long ride, as well as very calorie-dense foods. (In my case, usually pasta or something deep-fried.)

    And while if I were you, I'd be trying to find something that fills that nutrition/taste niche enough to be satisfying...don't beat yourself up. Guilt is a shitty motivational tool, as I'm sure you're aware. Maybe read a book or two about vegetarian nutrition for athletes? I know they're out there.

  19. "But clearly I am not committed/motivated enough."

    No. I don't buy that. If your body is sending different signals then so be it.

    One of the joys of physical labour is listening to the urges that the conversion of chemical to kinetic energy brings to the human physique. The simplicity and symmetry of energy in = energy out is very simple and all foods have different energy content. If your body signals food type A rather than B then be grateful that one does not have allergies that preclude that choice.

  20. Not to devolve into a discussion of vegetarianism, but the assertion that elite athletes cannot function on a plant-based diet alone is incorrect. There is a vegetarian society in Britain that loves to point out the many elite athletes who are vegetarians.

    VĂ©locio, the founder of cyclotourism in France, was a vegetarian, and strongly believed that simple foods allowed his body to perform better.

    For myself, I haven't eaten meat in 23 years, and during this time, I went from novice racer to Category 2 (racing with pros getting ready for the Tour de France). Now, as a randonneur, I have little trouble completing 1200 km rides non-stop. My biggest problem is traveling in South America or France, where it can be difficult to procure meat-less food in restaurants.

    I believe every body is different, and mine appears to function best on easily digestible foods. I am glad you are figuring out what works best for you.

  21. No finer meat to break your vegetarian fast than lamb! That is my "go to" meat, and I, too, was vegetarian for a number of years.

  22. I've been vegan for ten years, and it certainly can be more difficult to get enough calories when I'm riding hard because vegan food tends to be bulky, with more fibre. It also doesn't help that nutritious vegan food is hard to come by, especially once you get into the sticks, so I end up carrying way more food than my riding partners. If I do eat at a restaurant, often it'll be assumed that vegan equals diet, and I'll be offered a small salad before settling on fries. No way can I consume 3000 calories a day with salad, or fill the gap with fries and still perform well.

    Aside from the food availability issues though, I'm a lean mean vegan cycling machine who can out-eat and out-ride almost everyone I know.

  23. Perhaps your body is seeking iron to bolster your blood vessels (which in turn reduces tiredness and improves one's immune system).

    Try guinness as well - I drink cans of it after every bike ride ans major hiking expedition.

    ( as for black pudding being irish hmm - t'is English my dear)

    Yours Captain Scarlet

  24. Our regular rides are based around bacon butties and toasted teacakes. Without these two staples, I doubt I would ride :)

    And when a bacon buttie can't quite cut it, a bacon, sausage and egg barm.

  25. Jan I would not have guessed that you are vegetarian, how interesting. I hope you are not referring to me re the assertion that athletes cannot be vegetarians, because I certainly don't believe that. I am also not sure whether I've found what works best for me or am going through a stage/ transitionary period. I would prefer to remain vegetarian, but my cravings for meat are too much to handle. Maybe over time this will change.

  26. Captain - there are both English and Irish versions of black pudding. I've lived in the UK and love English breakfast. But in the pist I was referring to a specific menu item served by a local pub (in Cambridge MA) where the 'Irish breakfast' is basically a plate w eggs and 5 different meat items.

    Tim - Yes of course bacon, I forgot to mention bacon!

  27. JdeP said...
    Matt DeBlass said...
    "some folks do the same and want veggies. Me? I crave pizza."

    But I thought that the USA recently re-classified pizza as vegetable?!
    That's my kind of vegetarianism :-) "

    Tell that to the guy ordering a large "Meat Lovers" at Pizza Hut ;) :p

    Veloria,you had me a cheeseburgers and steaks :D

    Disabled Cyclist

  28. This 2011 book and Harvard Gazette article may be of interest. Controversial theories which suggest a link between meat eating and evolution.

    Of course too much meat (over-culling and the associated inhumane rearing) is not the way to go either.

    Interestingly, when I'm sick vegetables are like manna from heaven, while meat turns the stomach.

  29. ME TOO. Well, not the vegetarian part as I've never totally been able to give up meat eating.

    But I just want you to know that you are not alone in your post ride cheeseburger cravings!!!

  30. I am not a vegetarian and I will never be. There are simply too good things in this world to pass on, like prosciutto, jamon iberico, Greek lamb or slow braised beef.

    What I can totally skip though is 99% of all meat Americans eat like burgers, meatballs, grilled steaks, and Thanksgiving turkey.

  31. A charming misspelling Velouria lol

    Irish black pudding has been borrowed (some say stolen) from the UK by our Irish friends.

    Oh you lived in Blighty? Thats where Im writing from right now (East Sussex countryside to be exact). Where did you reside pray tell?

  32. My father has been a cyclist for forty years and an ethical vegetarian for twenty. It can definitely be done. I can't do it, however.

    Even a very balanced vegetarian diet makes me anemic quickly and no supplemental plant iron helps. I could freebase kale with little positive effect. It appears I am one of those who needs meat to function well. I handle my ambivalence about eating meat by eating only grass-fed and local meats from a whole animal butcher. I understand that most people don't have the luxury of being pious about industrial agriculture in the way that I am, but it's truly the only way I can deal.

  33. I was a vegetarian for about 20 years. One thought that changed things for me was that if everyone were vegetarian, most of our farm animals would be gone. There would be a few cows (milk) and maybe chickens (depending on your definition of eggs), and no pigs, etc. I think that the world would be poorer without them, and a great deal of culture would be lost. I live in the area that Grant Peterson shows in his blog/website, and there are cows out on the hills about 6 months of the year. Certainly industrial farming needs to be abolished, and care of the animals we use should be improved. But the logical extension of the impulse to not eat animals is for them never to exist. And yes, after a big ride, I do not crave a salmon. Steak, anyone?

  34. I think it would be the iron in red meat that you are craving, as a woman in her childbearing years and now an athlete you would need more of it than before and more than men do as well, have you ever had your haemoglobin levels tested?

  35. considering that automobiles make motorists blood thirsty socio-paths is it any wonder that cranking around on a bike gives one the desire to round up some game?

  36. I feel like there's been a trend of more and more athletes going vegan or vegetarian, actually. Discerning Brute posts about this quite often:


    And that's just what I found under the "athlete" search term; he doesn't have them all tagged as something as far as I can see.

    I don't do nearly the kind of exercise you do but I don't notice any non-vegan urges when I'm doing cardio regularly/pushing myself. I think, also, when you're vegan by intent for ethical reasons, I wouldn't interpret those signs as a need for meat, just a need for a more varied diet. I only sometimes notice my body craving salt and only sometimes iron (my whole meat-eating, hunting family is anemic so that is partially hereditary and ever since I've been vegetarian/vegan I've had decent iron levels...and that's 16-21 years).

    I do agree with the person who posted about local and humane food animals - I think if you are going to eat them, avoiding CAFO meat at all costs is the the better buy of the two sources of food animals out there.

  37. "Even a very balanced vegetarian diet makes me anemic quickly and no supplemental plant iron helps. "

    Not sure who knows this and who doesn't so if you've tried it already - sorry! But vegetable iron needs Vitamin C present in order for the body to use it so if you were taking vegetable based supplements and not upping your Vitamin C, that could be why your body wasn't using it. Nutritionists usually recommend to eat foods that have both present if you're vegan - i.e. broccoli.

  38. Captain - I lived in Cambridge. Confusing because now I am in the other Cambridge.

  39. I slowly went back to meat after 18 years of being vegetarian/pescatarian. One thing that swayed me was that dairy production seemed to be so cruel, even worse than meat production, and I knew I could never be vegan, so I lost all faith in my principles. I try and buy meat that has been produced conscientiously, and still eat veggie meals too of course. It is hard to live a guilt free life!

  40. Opinion here with no research to back it up.

    There are some nutrients where meat is the fastest and easiest way to replenish them. It can be done with a vegetarian diet, but meat is easier.

    Having said that, most of us, myself included, eat way more meat than is good for us.

  41. I measure how good a bike ride is by how much I'm craving a cheeseburger.

  42. Its not rational the attempt of trying to establish a causal relationship between bicycling and becoming an omnivore after years of vegetarianism. It has to do with the commitment with your diet and thats all.

  43. Funny to read this as I became vegetarian after beginning to commute by bike :-)

    I think vegetarianism is the way to go when you are concerned with the environment, something pretty common between cyclists.

  44. Certainly in Australia, vegetrianism is a poor ethical choice.

    Our soil is dreadful, and the amount of useable land is limited. So to get farmland we have to destroy native bush, and that kills native animals.

    Incidentally, this is also an excellent argument against eating beef. Fortunately, we have delicious kangaroos hopping around! They make a great substitute, but it's very easy to get kangaroo seak wrong, unfortunately.

    I, too, get very sick i I don't eat enough red meat. I couldn't be vegetarian even if I wanted to, but I wouldn't want to because I think it's the wrong way to get the idea of ethical treatment of animals across. If that is your purpose, you need to be vocal about it. The best way to go about it is to buy at farmers' markets or to carefully select animals which are properly free-range.

    As far as Velouria's case is concerned: Your initial motive in going vegetarian was that of listening to your body, and your motive in moving back toward meat is also one of listening to your body. So how do you have any reason for feeling guilty about changing again? It wasn't an ethical choice in the first place, and if it were I'd be suggesting more effective ways of letting companies know you want animals treated well. After all, business only really listens to what the competition is doing and whether it's successful. Fewer people eating meat will just be interpreted as them needing to advertise meat more effectively.

  45. As a child of vegetarians, I am a confirmed omnivore with definite carnivorous tendencies.

    I honestly believe that it is very difficult to get food that is as nutrient rich as meat from the plant world.

    Plus, meat is a very slow release energy-food, as fat as one of the lowest GI foods there is.

    We choose to eat humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free meat and we eat it often (there is a farmers market locally where we can buy it at close to supermarket prices).

    I am dying to read "The Vegetarian Myth".

  46. Once per week some kind of red meat other than ground. That means a steak prepared at home or a (shared) roast prepared at home. I believe it takes a few days or so for healthy humans to absorb essential enzymes and B-vitamins. Any consumption beyond that is wasteful/unhealthy?

  47. Ground Round Jim is just plain wrong that vegetarian diet cannot sustain long distance cycling.

    Similar to Jan, I've not eaten any animal products for more than 20 years now.

    I do not race but have been on many multi-day tours. Oatmeal and fruit in the morning. Couple bananas during the ride. Peanut butter and whole grain bread at lunch. Complex carbohydrates with legumes for dinner. It works.

    Agree with Jan that France can be a downer. All those lovely restaurants and you have to settle for grocery store dinner. Otherwise, my meatless diet has never hindered my cycle tours.

    Eating meat is pure choice. A well thought out vegetarian diet is every bit as energy, protein and vitamin rich.

  48. Matthew - When I was not eating meat, I had so many arguments with people about this. As you probably know, some believe that the proteins available from vegetable sources are not sufficient for humans to thrive on, and that we need meat proteins. Personally I do not believe that. But I do think vegetarians need to be careful that their sources of protein are varied and balanced. There is a tendency for overreliance on soy, for instance, which can cause hormonal disbalance with some potentially serious consequences.

    In reply to those who've mentioned iron: I considered that, but I did eat a lot of spinach, lentils, beets, and various nuts that are rich in it. Seems unlikely, since I was already getting plenty.

  49. Quincy Quincette - I think the ethics of eating vs not eating meat are extremely complicated for all the reasons you've described so well, and it is not limited to Australia. That's why I've left the ethical aspect out of it entirely. I do feel bad for the cute little animals, but given that farming destroys more of them than hunting, that becomes an illogical bias.

    leila@rook - I'd like to read The Vegetarian Myth as well.

  50. Matthew J, did I say everyone should eat meat if they cycle long distances? I would never presume everyone's dietary needs and the way they process different foods to be the same.

    You, on the other hand, seem to be making this claim. And it's pretty preposterous and smacks of vegi-militancy.

    Like I said earlier, I tend to ignore what people tell me what I should eat, including the FDA, because a) I like what I eat. Very much. b) I don't care what you think. c) You'll probably change your mind, ime. d) I know what works for me.

  51. Ride around the block. Crank out 50 miles. Old school cruiser. Space age rocket. Meat. Veggies. We're all in this together.

  52. I tend to eat like a hunter/gatherer because, well, I am one. I stock the freezer every year with venison, wild turkey, duck, and fish that I get myself during the respective hunting seasons and supplement that with either my garden or vegetables bought locally. The vegetables that I could buy from the larger (read - walmart and kroger) grocery stores are terrible and not worth consuming, except for maybe the winter squash and sweet potatoes and a select few other ones. Sometimes I just have to wonder where this stuff comes from, it seems so devoid of nutritional value and taste.

    Anyway, I often crave some sort of meat on a really long ride, but if the ride is only two to three hours and not too exhausting I can get by with a good salad and some mashed potatoes. If you really are craving that kind of food after long and intensive rides, you should definitely just chow down.

  53. Does the large number of bugs I tend to swallow on long rides count as animal protien?

  54. Interesting discussion about iron. I think whoever mentioned this has a point. Scientists know that for the most part iron is more easily absorbed through animal products rather than vegetables. The body understands this instinctively, it seems. After cycling your body has to find the most efficient way of replenishing oxygen to the muscles (thus iron steps in via protein), and also of restoring glucose and glycogen levels. Animal protein is also a richer source of fat, a requisite amount of which needs to be stored in the body, for use as an emergency source of glucose.

  55. Velouria, I mentioned low iron as it was a problem for me. My doctor said that eating some red meat was the best solution as iron from vegetables does not get absorbed as well on its own (and neither do iron tablets), but with a little red meat added, it is all absorbed much better so I eat red meat a few times a week and it worked for me.
    Quincy, I love kangaroo meat too, it is a great choice nutritionally and environmentally, I think! There are lots of kangaroos around and they are not farmed so it's a win/win.

  56. For the record: vegetarian leg (mine) on bike, age 56: http://flic.kr/p/6WbNcx

    3800 ft. of climbing for the day, mostly dirt, fixed-gear.

    But that's nothing...there's also Deanna Adams, committed vegan, epileptic, who rode the Furnace Creek 508 on a fixed gear.... http://tinyurl.com/7q73328 That's 500 miles through Death Valley....

  57. Ryan M - That is so very cool, I don't even.

    Re the kangaroo eating... I couldn't do it when I had the opportunity! I kept remembering the cute and very intelligent little kangaroos that I petted at the zoo once. In theory, I think that if a person eats meat they should have no problem imagining this, but sadly I am a hypocrite.

  58. Be careful of ground meat. Meaning most burgers. Meat inspection is a shadow of what we once imagined it to be. Basically grind your own, know your chef, know your butcher. As for hot dogs (I read that above) you want to really know your butcher.

    Simplest rule: Eat only food. Food means food. Not ersatz foodlike substances. I am suspicious of the bun in the photo up top.

    Food tastes delicious. You can tell the difference.

  59. Anon 10:29 - Oh I don't eat the bun, that's indeed not food.

    Richard - Great picture. I may be in Death Valley this coming Spring. Not on fixed gear though.

  60. Like many of the posters here, I tried vegetarianism and discovered it wasn't for me. Tired all the time, cranky, and grossest of all, had difficulty passing bowel movements. Also gained weight, which I don't feel like I should care about but... I did. I wasn't a cyclist during this experiment, but I definitely think it would have interfered. I think food is like drugs, for example some people feel happy when they drink a lot but I get depressed when I drink more than one beer. Likewise, I need meat, but I can totally believe other people thrive on a veg*n diet. All bodies are different!

  61. "Does the large number of bugs I tend to swallow on long rides count as animal protein? "

    Only if you chewed them, Matt.

    I try to know my food sources as much as I can, and use moderation. Living near the great Salinas Valley has it's advantages.

    Like Velouria and so many others have noted, the nutritional requirements for one's body seem to change seasonally as well as with differing activity levels.
    Several longstanding vegan friends (and family) will rotate to an ovo/lacto- vegetarian and even meat-inclusive diet for a while when they deem it physically necessary.
    Others would rather die than switch, but I wouldn't ever bike with them.

    Anecdote does not equal data, but sometimes that's all you have...

    Off to cook a steak, now.
    See some of you on the road tomorrow.

  62. Funny I usually don't have any huge cravings after a good 20 or 30 mile ride. Main one for me bacon egg and cheese sandwiches that does it. Coffee is the one thing I crave more than food on a ride to be honest

  63. What about after a good 50+ mile ride? : )

  64. @V I have only done a couple and main thing I still crave before food is coffee LOL. I can go pretty damn far on a ride before I need a refuel though be honest me I could never give up meat :)

  65. Ah non! My husband is vegan and he'd have a fit if he read your post. I am not a total vegetarian, but I can't say I crave meat any more or less because of biking since I have been cycling for much of my life. It may simply be that your body is craving meat because it needs the protein etc. However you are going on very long road bike rides which would equate a voracious appetite that beans and lentils just can't fill. I have gone off the vegetarian rails too many times to try be strictly vegetarian.
    The little animals are a problem because I certainly love animals and my heart goes out to them. I try to eat organic free range if possible, but the choices are limited unless I can get into whole paycheck...

  66. I have been a vegi for about 30 years. Raced mountain and road bikes etc... I have always had a very even metabolism and no cravings for any particular food. My milage and training level seems more to determine how I feel and perform during a ride, that what I am eating. As milage goes up you do eat a lot more. I would go with the iron, salt and fat theory of why the burger is so attractive to you. Nothing against meat eating, as long as it is local and sustainable.

  67. Every morning I am passed by lorrie-loads of sheep and lambs, headed for the abbatoir. They are cold, crowded, and crying out. I don't eat lamb or mutton anymore.

  68. It seems I hear of cravings being used to justify decisions in regards to dietary choices quite often. I personally crave sweets. Pretty sure I don't need the sugar though.

    You are right, this blog post was very disappointing. :/

  69. I never "crave" meat after/before a ride. I crave veggies, and like meat. That said, the BF could never, ever be a vegetarian. If he doesn't have massive amounts of protein, he's a beast to be around. I just don't think it would be humanly possible to ingest enough legumes or whatever to fuel him on a meatless diet. He'd have to graze all day long! His body is an amazing machine, a Ferrari, whereas mine is like a Yugo: I can put whatever in it, and it works exactly the same. The octane don't matter to me, if you get my drift. For example: Like any good, red-blooded 'Merican, I did my ride today after a McDonald's cheeseburger, medium fry and a Coke. And I was fine. I could have eaten some sort of wild quinoa-tabbouleh-broccoli mix and felt exactly the same.

    Take away my Peach Snapple Ice Tea, however, and YOU'RE GOING DOWN.

  70. If your body craves it, listen to it. It may be the B vitamins in meat. I had to give up being vegetarian because of an iron issue, though I took supplements. After testing and altering diet and taking supplements it was determined caffeine may have been suppressing my nutrition, especially when consumed with meals. After completely reversing my diet, I do miss being a vegetarian. I'd like to try eating meat and poultry just 2-3 times a week when I have more time to prepare meals.

  71. I also think that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest for some people though happily not all. I have been converted to the "Eat Right For Your Blood Type" diet which says that the different blood groups evolved at different periods in human history when the available food and living conditions were different. As a type "O" I am advised to eat a high protein diet plenty of meat and not so much carbs. Type "A"s should be vegetarian , type "B" and "AB" are more mixed but certain foods should be avoided. Just curious. do you know your blood type? maybe your carnivorous type "O" ancestors are trying to tell you something

  72. Velouria wrote: "I hope you are not referring to me re the assertion that athletes cannot be vegetarians."

    I was not referring to anybody in particular. I became a vegetarian living in Texas (not through overexposure to meat, though, as I lived in a vegetarian group house), and of course, when traveling and eating in restaurants, I got to hear a lot from bystanders about vegetarians and their supposed lack of strength and energy.

  73. "It seems I hear of cravings being used to justify decisions in regards to dietary choices quite often. I personally crave sweets. Pretty sure I don't need the sugar though."

    Bingo. I sometimes crave a martini, but it doesn't mean that my body needs gin in order to thrive.

  74. "The tasty little animals..." I love it. I feel the same way sometimes, but then I think, "I've got molars and incisors in my mouth, and they must be there for a reason."

  75. I noticed one reference to Kale; time and time again I will notice the ease with which I sped home, or effortlessly up a hill only to remember: "Oh yeah, I had some Kale for lunch (with sausage and potato of course)". I've heard it has 10 times more iron than spinach!!! very easy to cook and reasonably cheap... KALE! (admirers are few; noone else in my family likes it) KALE! Ride like Popeye with KALE!

  76. Well....so far I've had to look up..pescetarian, abattoir and falafel....no wonder that I ride a Velosolex 3800....sheesh.

  77. RE blood type comment: I doubt blood types have anything to do with it. I am type O myself, nearly lifelong vegetarian, ride 40 to 70 mile rounds regularly, and centuries occasionally, and never crave anything more than starches after a big ride. Beer, Indian rice, italian spaghetti, potatoes in any form. Almost all plant foods have more protein than anybody in any exercise regime has need of, as long as you mix sources to get the full list of amino acids.

    As for teeth and cavemen: our teeth resemble those of horses and cows, not cats and dogs. People living paleolithic lifestyles in the present day rarely eat much meat; it's a supplement.

    Not that paleolithic diets would matter anyway. Our ancestors also slept naked in the rain, practiced polygamy, and indulged in recreational warfare. We don't, not the first two at least.

    I won't go into my reasons for being a vegetarian, as they would seem pejorative to some readers no doubt, but I don't accept specious excuses for eating meat when you are doing it simply because you want to.

    Ride your bikes, enjoy your lunch, quit preaching. Present-day meat enthusiasts are becoming worse than the aggressive vegetarians of my youth, whom I couldn't stand though I was then and remain solidly vegetarian myself.

  78. cecilcycle, you are not alone! I am also a member of the kale bandwagon!

    Spinach is often quoted as a source of iron, but it's actually not, because it has an acid (oxalic?) that keeps you from absorbing it.

    Kale is better! I ate a whole bunch of it by myself last night. NOM NOM NOM.

  79. Oh noes, kale! I can only eat it raw. The smell of cooked kale makes me nauseous (as does cabbage and a bunch of other cooked vegetables).

  80. Surely no discussion of diet and cycling is complete without a mention of the (vegetarian) "father of French bicycle touring and randonneuring": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_de_Vivie

    Disclaimer: I eat meat (though I try to always make sure it's ethically sourced...)

  81. My after a heavy gym workout/bicyling meal:

    *Reuben sandwich (cheese pastrami sauerkraut dressing)
    *side order of coleslaw
    *beer, tea or coffee

  82. As a pescatarian commuter biker, I've got to say that I definitely crave a burger once in a while! I haven't noticed it in correlation with biking, but I don't do too many strenuous rides.

    I don't plan on dropping the veg thing, but I totally understand where you are coming from. I've often wondered if I'm going to return to meat (although my eating habits will never be the same), but, I think the main thing to remember is meat is a side dish not a main dish and you'll be fine :) Enjoy the burger!

  83. @Ground Round Jim:

    "I've noticed vegetarians tend to shut up about their choices when facing "epic sufferfests"

    Oh, you mean vegans like Dave Zabriskie (in the TdF,no less (and yes I know he is not purely vegan)), Rich Roll, Brian Davidson, Cara Gillis, Brendan Brazier...... I could go on and on. I know the urge to troll can be difficult to resist, but please. If you ever come to San Diego, we can go climb some mountains...

  84. Troll, the other green meat.

    Mmmm. Troll.

  85. Uh Paul, did you see I mentioned Zabriskie above? Methinks thou art trolling...

    I don't recognize any of the folks you mentioned as being part of the ProTour, so I'm pretty sure you just proved my point.

    Anywho, strong riders aren't strong due to their diets alone, as everyone knows.

    Ok, let the veggie climb-fest pissing match begin. Go ahead and freebase your kale and rip up the mountain. I'll have my kobe beef burger with a pint of the local, thank you very much.

    You vegemites sure are aggro.

  86. I think Cris must be on to something in regards to cravings and associations. I have never craved a meat product simply because I have never had one, but work my muscles hard enough and you will find me standing blankly in front of the prepared foods case at Whole Foods muttering about breaded tofu. The body craves through what the mind knows.

  87. "Oh noes, kale!"
    Kale chips with hot sauce are my jam. Not kale-y at all.

  88. Hey Jim,

    Not my intention to start a flame war, but I wonder what evidence your statement about the suffer fest was based on? In the world of ultra-endurance athletes, plant-based diets are increasingly common-- a number of the athletes that I mentioned come from that realm.

    Also, Zabriskie competed in the Tour with a predominantly vegan diet, not just vegetarian. Also, you seemed to be the one associating performance with diet.

    Regarding trolls and your diet--enjoy your burger and the way you comment on blogs (I'm familiar with your work)-- it's a matter of personal choice. We can still have a fun ride up the mountain together if you ever get out this way.

  89. Paul, I tried the plant-based diet mixed with legumes and complex carbs and gave it an honest go. Basically, we're all on the same page wrt corporate abattoirs. I found, like Erica, I gained weight, recovered less quickly and had less power and endurance on the bike. Oh, there were flow problems as well. Ahem. That's just me.

    As for my original comment, I've helped train a lot of beginning/intermediate cyclists who, once a certain level of activity is attained, who have had to change their plant-based diets merely to get through the ride. My comment was based upon their nagging.

    This is not to say that the right person with the perfect veggie diet can't get through an epic sufferfest which, btw, was merely a fun reference to V's previous post.

    Also, I'm only commiserating w/V: at a certain point it is very easy to crave and indulge in meat eating because it's plentiful, cheap and feeds the muscles in a certain way.

    Speaking of which, thanks for the offer. If I were younger (read faster)and full of piss and vinegar I'd take you up on your offer.

    Anyway, HNY to all, including our very patient moderators.

  90. I wouldn't worry about the ethics of eating mammal or bird meat compared to fish.

    Afterall, we are decended from fish, not birds.

  91. Velouria, leila@rook:

    I recently read Lierre Keith's book (The Vegetarian Myth), and I'm in the midst of Gary Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories) right now. I highly recommend both to anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the results of consuming different types of foods. The former also challenges (quite effectively, in my opinion) the ideas behind the moral and environmental reasons for choosing vegetarianism.

    These are not books that it would be wise to read uncritically, however, and there are many references that are worth investigating further in each...


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