the VEGGIE page

“Tassie based triathlete Joe Gambles has a couple of nicknames – The Gambles, Smokin’ Joe, Tofu Joe. He surely is smokin’, breaking course records such as 2010 Ironman Wisconsin, but Tofu Joe? It’s not cause he’s soft around the edges – far from it. He’s just 100% vegetarian.” Ironman’s Fittest, May 6, 2011 Yahoo! Lifestyle

A lot of people are surprised when they find out I race professionally fueled by a vegetarian diet. This page is an opportunity to answer some questions and share thoughts on the subject. To get things started, here are the answers to the Top Ten most common questions I get about being a vegetarian professional triathlete.


  1. Do you eat chicken?
    No, it’s meat.
  2. Do you eat fish?
    No, it’s meat.
  3. Do you eat dairy?
    I’m vegetarian not vegan.
  4. How do you get your protein?
    A combination of whole foods including beans, grains and dairy.
  5. How long have you been a vegetarian?
    All my life.
  6. Have you ever tried meat?
    No and thankfully I’ve never eaten at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant either.
  7. Why don’t you eat meat?
    There are a lot of proven benefits to eliminating meat in your diet, but for me it’s simply the fact that I like animals too much to eat them.
  8. Is your iron low?
    That’s kind of a personal question, but no my levels are fine thank you.
  9. Isn’t it hard to race one of the toughest sports in the world and train at a high altitude being a vegetarian?
    After 20 years in the sport so far, I believe what you choose to fuel your body with is just as important as anything else you do to prepare. For me this is a a vegetarian diet and it is the best way to handle the stress my body experiences through training, and maximizes my potential come race day.
  10. Do you know Dave Scott?
    Yes, but I saw him eat some meat and I told him I can’t be friends anymore. He still calls me sometimes…

European cuisine isn’t always compatible with a Vegetarian diet. It’s especially hard because I don’t speak any language other than english and not all restaurants have the same definition for “Vegetarian” food. Another challenge in Spain is that people eat really late and typical restaurant hours often conflict with training before noon the next day, so we cook a lot at home. Luckily, the food is extremely fresh and the standards are generally high so there is an abundance of seasonal fruits and veggies along with cheap wine and fresh bread. For more about eating and training in Spain check out my Wife’s blog here.



Cooper waiting patiently outside our local market



A typical head of organic lettuce here is twice the size of the ones at Whole Foods in Boulder



Broad beans have been a winter staple, Sage likes to make them in spicy tomato sauce, I’m not sure why



This was our first attempt at tortilla espanola, you have to cut the potatoes smaller, we’ve improved a lot



This is the best chocolate I’ve ever had



A typical dinner (we’ve cut down on the cheese though)



My new favorite post ride drink