The Vegan Runner
Many years ago, I was a vegetarian. I was also once a vegan for about 3 months. Everyone thought I was crazy and I’d heard the same typical comments over and over again. Animals were put here for us to consume. If they aren’t treated badly, then what’s the problem? You run. You NEED protein. Eventually, I gave in and went back to eating meat. However, I am way more conscious of what I put in my body now. (All of the organic chicken is really putting a dent in our grocery bill, but I say it’s all worth it.)
Lately Mario and I have been watching quite a few documentaries. Most recently we watched Forks Over Knives and Vegucated. If anything ever made me want to go vegan again, it would be those two films. The power of plants is undeniable and as a wannabe really fast runner, I’m starting to question my diet choices.
Now don’t misunderstand me… I eat much healthier than your average person. I don’t do processed foods, my sweets consumption is limited to organic dark chocolate and my two worst habits are peanut butter and plantain chips. However, as I start to think about it, I don’t think I get enough nutrition from plant based foods. My typical veggie intake consists of spinach, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, onions, and maybe mushrooms. It never ventures far from this path. After reading this article from Scott Jurek, one of the most dominating ultrarunners of all time, I think I need to revisit the issue.
[After going vegan] my performance wasn’t the only thing that improved.
When I went vegan, my blood pressure and triglycerides levels dropped to all time lows, and my HDL, or “good” cholesterol shot up to an all-time high. I had virtually no joint inflammation, even after miles of pounding trails and roads, and on the rare occasions I sprained an ankle or fell and whacked my elbow or wrist, the soreness left faster than it ever had before.
So it turns out, an athlete, even one who trains up to eight hours a day, can do just fine with a plant-based diet. It also turns out that spending a little more time and money to eat healthy is incredibly cost effective; I think of a plant based diet as essentially the cheapest health insurance around. Being vegan wasn’t a matter of subtraction, but addition. I discovered foods I had never known existed and experienced flavors and textures I had never imagined. Have you ever tasted a juicy lentil mushroom burger, or a savory bowl of veggie chili? If not, you should.
That’s something to think about: A delicious, affordable diet that will make you healthier and support the most difficult physical challenges you could ever encounter. Now that’s shocking.
I wonder how much a little tweak in my diet will improve my performance, if at all… I think I’ll go search for my vegan cookbook. 🙂
Happy Trails & Happy Running,