Ben Dame, vegan triathlete
Ben Dame is a Triathlete, marathon runner and ultradistance runner. At the end of 2012 he was named as a national top ten triathlete in his age group and in October 2012 represented the USA at the ITU Olympic Distance Triathlon World Championship in London. After this he was ranked globally in the Top 100.
He’s listed as an Ironman All World Athlete and has the Silver status which places him among top 5% of worldwide competitors at the Ironman distance (3.86km swim, 180.25km cycle and marathon 42.2km run).
He has also competed at the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nevada where he secured a top 50 finish.
More recently he’s turned his attention to ultrarunning. In 2014 he completed a self-supported 250km race in Madagascar which is part of the 4Desert series, and he aims to complete the other sections in Gobi, Sahara Atacama and Antarctica by 2016.
He has the 2nd best ever time to complete the lake Bakal marathon, which crosses the frozen Siberian lake. He ran the distance in 3:12:00 at temperatures of -22C.
Ben grew up with a diet that relied on animal products and it wasn’t until 2004 that he started cutting out red meat and dairy after discovering more about the science behind these foods.
The process continued and by October 2012 he was vegan.
“My decision was completely selfish and did not have any political or social reasonings behind it.” Ben told us. “It was born out of self-experimentation.”
“I’m certainly happy to see though that living on a plant-based diet not only benefits my health, but also inspires other people to do the same and ultimately can have a positive impact on the environment, as it is currently being crushed by the impact of animal agriculture.”
Ben and his wife describe themselves as ‘vegan alchemists’ as they experiment with food, working towards only eating food they prepare themselves.
“I end up experimenting a lot to see if I can do that. I create my own peanut butter, fermented sauerkraut, almond milk, jam, trail mix and various other things. As I want to perform in ketosis during prolonged exercise I track my sugar intake quite religiously. During exercise I love dried fruits and more fatty items like peanut butter.”
They eat only wholefoods, including "lots of dark leafy veggies of the whole colour spectrum, the more colourful the better.”
When travelling he prepares food to take with him, and is proud of their own trail mix.
Success in racing
“In races, my goal is always to get on to the podium” Ben continued. He speaks warmly of him top 10 placing at the US nationals in 2012 and the run at Lake Baikal brings memories of the beautiful environment and the welcoming reception. “On ultra-distances, I must say, every finish is extremely special and I cannot single out one over the other.”
Future plans include the 4Deserts series and to generally push the boundaries of his capabilities. Part of the benefits of this will be passing on the benefits of his experience in discovering a plant based diet.
“I really do encourage people to give veganism a try. Try it for 2 weeks and analyze the results. One word of caution would be not to go down the Rabbit hole of eating “vegan cookies” and other products that are vegan, but that can be as bad for your body as your current diet. The amount of sugar (or sugar replacements) and really hard to decipher additives in those products is astonishing and does a lot of harm to your body short and long term.
"I’m a big fan of tracking body metrics and recommend doing regular blood tests to track progress. You are most likely doing regular check-ups with your car, make sure your body gets frequent check-ups as well. A lot of old-age - ailments and diseases are occuring because your body lost a war of attrition over many years (ex: lacking Vit D or Magnesium for prolonged periods). Figure out what your body is getting too much of or is missing and create balance”.
In 2016 Ben competed in the 4Deserts Sri Lanka race, which is a tough 155 mile, 6 stage evet across difficult terrain. Ben was one of the leading runners of the 81 entrants in the men's race, remaining in the first three until he dropped out after four days due to shin splints.
"I did the whole thing on 8000 carefully selected plant-based (gluten-free) and organic calories and it was working wonders" Ben reported to Great Vegan Athletes a few days afterwards. "Recovery was so successfully executed during those days and I attribute it mainly to det. My staple foods were a nuts and date mix, a lentin/bean/buckwheat combo and nut butters. All homemade, calorie dense magic."
In October 2016 he completed the 250km Atacama Crossing, part of the same series, finishing an impressive third (read more here).
No Meat Athlete is a great running resource.
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