It didn’t take long to convince Olympian Morgan Mitchell to go vegan. In 2014, she watched several videos about the meat industry and the cruelty it inflicts upon animals, and she was done. “It made me so upset that I dropped meat and animal products out of my diet right then and there,” says the Australian-born track star whose specialties are the 400 meter and 800 meter races.
Two years after going vegan, Mitchell competed in her first Olympics, running the 400 meter, and says the benefits of eating vegan were tangible. Not only did she run the fastest 400 meter time by an Australian in 12 years right before the Games, her recovery also significantly improved, any sluggishness gone. “For me, [the biggest benefit] was my recovery time,” she says, adding that she felt lighter, too. “I would bounce back the next day ready to go after some of the hardest sessions.” Another bonus? “Illness was no longer really a thing for me – I never get sick.”
There was a mental wellness payoff, too. “You feel internally sane and happy knowing that you’re trying to do your part to help the environment and save animals along the way,” says Morgan, who recently appeared in the documentary The Game Changers about athletes and meat.
So what does this track star eat when she’s competing? Before a race, she fuels up on two pieces of toast with peanut butter, banana, and maple syrup. “It gives me the energy hit I need and keeps me full but is light on the stomach,” she says.
When Mitchell is in season, she tries to cook most of her meals, opting for a meat alternative with all of her meals. But when it’s off-season for this track star, she’s more social and loves going out for coffees and dinners with friends. Her favorite plant-based dish? The Big Old Breakfast Burrito from Nami, a vegan café in Phoenix. “It’s definitely worth every bite,” she says.
Most of her teammates and friends have been supportive of her plant-based diet, with some following her example. “A few of my friends have gone vegan, and some have tried going vegan or will eat vegan meals two to three times a week, which is a bonus,” she says. Her ultimate move to win them over? “I take them to the Vegie Bar on Brunswick Street in Melbourne – it’s a 10/10.”
Last summer, she competed in the rescheduled 2020 Olympic Games, taking on the 400 meter, 800 meter, and 4 x 400 meter relay – all in spite of being injured with a partially-torn Achilles. She says being able to call herself a dual Olympian over three events is special – but she’s not done yet. Mitchell’s currently gunning for a third Olympics in Paris in 2024, and you can bet that her plant-based diet will make her a top competitor.
How Morgan Mitchell Runs on Plants
So what does a day in the life of this running star look like? Mitchell shares a peek into her training and eating regimen below in this installment of VT Food Diaries.
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5:30 a.m. Wake up
6 a.m. I have breakfast, usually black coffee with two slices of peanut butter on toast.
6:30 a.m. Answer email and prep for the day.
7 a.m. Swig a shot of apple cider vinegar.
7:30 a.m. Head to the track for a typical 800m session.
9 a.m. I have a post-training snack, usually apple with peanut butter, muesli bar, or a banana smoothie.
9:30 a.m. I hit an F45 studio [Morgan is a Lead Athlete for F45 Training] or the gym to do exercises like the clean-and-jerk, squat jumps with weight, single leg squats, walking calf raises, Swiss ball hamstring kicks, and 15 minutes of core.
11 a.m. I sip a recovery protein shake, always vanilla, or eat a protein bar.
12 p.m. Lunch time! I love eating things like a spiced tofu burger with chili tofu, vegan cheese, spinach, pickles, diced mushrooms. Air fries on the side!
1 p.m. It’s time for meetings.
3 p.m. I eat two to three rice cakes with peanut butter, or avocado, Vegemite, and chili flakes.
4 p.m. I take a 5K recovery walk or do a slow 1-2 km swim.
6:30 p.m. It’s dinner time, which often includes a tofu soba noodle bowl with tofu, soba noodles, edamame, oyster mushrooms, capsicum, diced broccoli, chili flakes, and soy sauce.
8 p.m. I spend time studying (I’m working on getting my Bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing and business and studying Spanish, too) and answering emails.
9 p.m. I sip a combo of green tea and peppermint tea mixed together. I also eat 1-2 squares of dark chocolate.
10 or 10:30 p.m. Bed!