The Plant-Based Cyclist is an interesting and informative book that gives the lowdown of the realities of a vegan diet for cycling, although it would be good to have a few more recipes.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people adopting a plant-based diet for many reasons, including health, weight loss, or environmental concerns. This has also been true for cyclists, and with the famous Linda McCartney team founded in 1988, there have been non-meat diets throughout the pro-peloton for many years. The issue that many have is that traditional prep and recovery meals tend to revolve around animal-based products, not just meat but also pasta if it's made with egg (and other egg-based meals).
The Plant-Based Cyclist has been written in order to give a little more information about doing this successfully. The author is Nigel Mitchell, who has worked with British Cycling, Team Sky, and Cannondale on their nutritional programmes.
The book itself focuses less on specific recipes and more on the science behind different food groups and the plant-based options available. It means that throughout the 241 pages, there are only 23 recipes; it would have been nice to have a few more, but given there are a lot of facts and data about many of the ingredients you are likely to use, it gives you enough information that can be used to make decisions on other recipes too.
Navigating the book is relatively simple if you want to find out something specific, with chapters and subheadings listed in the contents. This allows you, for instance, to find out information about fuelling for an evening club ride or an early morning time trial. I found this particularly useful for planning for specific ride types as, currently in lockdown, I've been going out at all times of the day.
It doesn't just tell you what to do in specific circumstances, though, it also helps you to prepare for a plant-based diet in general, with chapters on stocking cupboards, the equipment you will need, and how to best prepare for travelling while staying plant-based.
The recipes themselves are relatively easy to follow, although I'd have preferred having them laid out step-by-step rather than as a single block of text. I did occasionally find myself needing to read back through previous steps in order to find where I was and what I needed to do next. Particular favourites included the tofu risotto and pistachio nut butter.
A nice touch for the recipes was how some took traditional ride fuel or meals, like flapjacks and rice cakes, and essentially talked you through how you could adapt them to remove animal products.
Another positive about the recipes is that there are none that are particularly involved, and none took me over 40 minutes to prepare – something that those of us who aren't exactly Delia Smith might find particularly useful.
That said, it would have been nice to have a few more complex dishes or a bit more variety. For instance, there were only really three of the recipes that I would consider as 'meals', with most of the others being fuelling foods, drinks or small dishes.
However, the focus of the book is definitely more on the scientific and performance elements of diet, so this could be forgiven. The book, in fact, would even be useful for those who aren't necessarily looking purely at a plant-based diet because there is a lot of information about effective fuelling and recovery strategies that are not specific to a vegan diet.
At £14.99, the price is pretty much in line with other nutrition books we've reviewed on road.cc, such as Fuelling the Cycling Revolution at £16.99, and the more recipe-focused Feed Zone Table, which Dave looked at a couple of years ago, at £17.95.
Overall I liked this book. It is readable, easily digestible (sorry!), and easy to reference when needed. It would have been nice to have a few more recipes and a bit more variety for more complex meals, but given that the book is more of a holistic overview, it makes sense.
Useful source of information about becoming more plant-based in your diet, although more recipes would be nice
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road.cc test report
Make and model: GCN The Plant-Based Cyclist
Size tested: 244 pages
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It is a guide to cycling while using a plant-based diet, focused mainly on the scientific and performance elements.
GCN says: 'Your accessible, complete and practical 244-page guide to plant-powered cycling'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pages: 244 (120gsm)
Size: 246mm (h) x 189mm (w)
Cover Finish: 280gsm, with anti-scuff matte laminate and spot UV gloss finish
Weight: 700g approx.
Not normally something we rate in a book review, but its wipe clean cover means you can wipe down if you spill ingredients on it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's simple to understand the concepts and the way it is laid out means that finding the relevant information is easy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The referencing, it's really simple to find relevant information.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Could have done with a few more recipes.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
We took a look at Fuelling the Cycling a couple of years ago, which takes a similar approach, and that comes in at £16.99. Dave also looked at Feed Zone Table a couple of years ago, which is more recipe-focused, and comes in at £17.95.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It is a useful reference book to help cyclists who are looking to adopt more plant-based foods in their performance plans or who are simply looking to understand how food can play more of a part in their performance.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.