Sports Nutrition for Vegans: Vega Sport Review
Being an athlete and a vegetarian or vegan used to be really, really hard, and nobody knew that better than professional Ironman triathlete (and vegan) Brendan Brazier. Before creating a plant-based, whole-food diet that truly gave him the nourishment he needed, he suffered from reduced energy levels and chronic hunger despite eating almost constantly. But he was stubborn and refused to give up, and, thanks to his perseverance, vegetarians and vegans have a complete, natural, plant-based sports performance system: Vega Sport.
Like other sports performance systems you’ve seen in stores (you know the ones I mean), Vega Sport focuses on different aspects of sports performance, so products are divided into three groups—Prepare, Sustain and Recover—and I had a chance to try them all out. Here are my thoughts.
Vega Sport Review
Prepare has a Pre-Workout Energizer in Lemon-Lime and Acai Berry (12 single servings for $29.99 or a 30-serving tub for $49.99). The Pre-Workout Energizer is designed to be mixed with water and used 20 minutes before any workout. I liked both flavors (although they didn’t look or smell as appetizing as they actually tasted, so be warned), and the single-serving pouches were certainly handy. The only issue I had—and this could probably be attributed to the fact that drinking this meant I drank eight ounces of water shortly before a couple of long runs—is that I had to pee within a couple of miles of starting the run. So, you know, maybe don’t chug it right before you leave, or if you do, make a pit stop at the start.
Sustain offers more options—an Electrolyte Hydrator, Endurance Gel and Endurance Bar. The Electrolyte Hydrator (a powder that dissolves into your water) was great; good flavor, good consistency as long as it was well shaken, and it seemed quite effective. I can’t get quite as excited about the other two Sustain products, though. The Endurance Gel was simultaneously runny and gritty, and considering I don’t like most sport gels to begin with, I just couldn’t deal. And while I didn’t care for the Endurance Bar at all, a friend of mine thought the Mocha flavor was delicious, so, to each her own, I guess.
I really felt like Recover was the part they totally nailed. Vega Sport Recover included Recovery Accelerator, Performance Protein and Protein Bar. And they were all delicious. No, seriously, the Chocolate Coconut Protein Bar is the best I’ve ever had. Of course, it’s also the one product in the system that’s totally optional. Whatever—yum.
That brings me to the other aspect of Vega Sport: the education and guidance portion. The media kit they sent me included a booklet that explained everything about the system, including the principles behind the nutrition, why alkalinity is important, how this system helps manage inflammation, and what nutrients are most important for sport nutrition, just to get started. It’s all available on the Vega Sport website, too, which is super handy.
Vega Sport also includes a comprehensive guide to when you should use each product, taking into account variables such as how long your workout is and the level of intensity, and even providing examples. It then explains not only what products will help at each stage, but also how long before or after the workout to use them. See? Helpful.
As someone who was told by coaches in high school that going veg wasn’t an option, I am beyond thrilled to see Vega Sport hit shelves. In fact, I saw it at Whole Foods just the other day, and you can find a store carrying it near you with the site’s store locator if you don’t want to order online. I might not have loved every product offered, but this is a brand-new line, and I have no doubt it’ll only improve. And in the meantime, it certainly seems to do the job. If you’re looking for a plant-based sports-nutrition source, it’s just been made ever-so-much easier.
Do you use any sports nutrition products before, during or after a hard workout? Do you worry about whether animal products are used or if what you’re eating and drinking is all-natural? Are you planning to try Vega Sport? —Kristen