PLATTSBURGH — Gene Baur chose to lead a vegan lifestyle nearly three decades ago to promote his belief in the ethical treatment of animals.
More recently, the Los Angeles native has turned to long-distance running as a means to show how a vegan lifestyle can be a healthy one.
That combination will be on display in Lake Placid this weekend when Baur participates in his first-ever Ironman Triathlon.
“My aim is to demonstrate that vegans can do well participating in triathlon feats,” said Baur, 50, from his home in College Park, Md., recently. “A plant-based diet is a more sustainable, healthier diet.”
Baur ran competitively in high school but had only been a recreational runner as an adult, hitting the running trail two to three times a week, on average.
It was not until the last few years that he began training for distance running.
He ran his first marathon in March 2012 and participated in the Richmond, Va., triathlon last fall and the Los Angeles triathlon in March 2013.
“The Ironman is my most ambitious athletic event to date,” he said. “I’m feeling good. I feel that I will be able to finish the Ironman, and I believe I’ll finish in a reasonable time.
“By training for a triathlon, you become more in tune with your body,” he added. “You listen to it more, focus more on eating nutrient-rich foods.”
A key to his success will be replenishing nutrients during the race, he said.
“It’s all about eating well. For me, that means plant foods, whole foods, grains. It’s a healthier lifestyle, good for the body, good for the mind, good for the spirit.”
Baur recognizes the difficulty people face when making such a dramatic lifestyle change as becoming vegan but offers national statistics that show vegans have a decreased incidence of heart disease and cancer.