James Newbury, who finished 5th in the 2019 CrossFit Games, has been sharing a lot of posts about his meals on his Instagram page recently, foods rich in cruciferous vegetables like purple cabbage, fruits like mango, sprouts like alfalfa, protein like tofu… it didn’t take long until people started asking him where the darn meat was.
He admitted this week that he’s been “plant-based” for four months now.
[Related: Watch our documentary about James Newbury‘s advanced training methods]
Four months! Although Newbury posted many times about plant based supplements, it was not until this past week that he posted actual plant based meals. With all the interest surrounding top CrossFit athletes’ diets and training programs, why would Newbury resist sharing his choice to go vegan for four months?
Well, his latest Instagram post gives clear insight to his mindset around his lifestyle change. (The bolding is our own, for emphasis.)
Turning more plant based has been on my mind since about 2013. I even did a couple of months of it. To say I was prepared at the time would be a lie. I didn’t educate myself and didn’t take the time to make good eating habits, so I stopped. Back then it was looking at performance benefits rather than ethical reasons. I guess since then I’ve almost turned a blind eye to a lot of what you see on YouTube with how animals are treated, and I avoided videos like that like the plague because it made me so sad. Then I started to think to myself by not watching the video because it makes me sad, this doesn’t actually contribute to a solution, yet it actually supports it.
No matter the size of the contribution, it’s still a contribution, so I made the choice to do it properly. Not only for the animals but the environment too. Before the [CrossFit Games] Open started in the beginning of October I stopped eating 99% of animal products.
I did however keep a collagen protein in my diet as I wanted to ease my way into it.
Here we should emphasize that collagen protein is made from animal bones, so it’s not vegan or vegetarian. But eventually, he went completely plant-based after an accident changed his life.
[Related: The complete guide to a vegan athlete diet]
Newbury spent his 29th birthday in the hospital following a freak mountain biking accident that left him with severe, but recoverable, injuries to his back, ribs, and lung.
Newbury maintained his plant based diet throughout his recovery and it seemed to have some psychological benefits for him.
I continued eating 99% animal free through this period. 2.5 weeks later I went in for follow up x-rays. I then received a call later from the cardiothoracic doctor saying there was no fractures left to be seen. Not to say the way I was eating is the cause of this because I’m sure the shape I was in played a role (…) As of the 12th of November I quit 100% of animal products.
Note that Newbury is using the term “plant-based” and not “vegan,” which aren’t technically the same. Plant-based diets are free from any animal products and they are indeed what a vegan would follow, but a person who identifies themselves as vegan also avoids wearing leather, using cosmetics made with animal products, and so on. The philosophy extends beyond their diet, in other words.
Newbury recently completed a seven day fast in Bali and plans to get back into the gym and return to CrossFit competition. We’ll see if his adoption of an entirely plant based diet will pay off on the leaderboard.
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet abstains from the use of any animal products, including dairy, eggs, and honey.
Who is James Newbury?
James Newbury is an accomplished CrossFit competitor from Australia. His best finish is 5th place at the 2019 CrossFit Games.