No Meat Athlete Radio: ‘Approaching the Natural’ with Author Sid Garza-Hillman

Podcast Radio2Last week — after the most beautiful drive of my life along the Pacific coast from southern Oregon to Mendocino, California — I had the pleasure of spending a night at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, an (all-vegan!) eco-resort.

I was only there for one night — 18 hours in total — but in that short time I had two amazing vegan meals at the resort’s Ravens Restaurant, a fire in my room’s fireplace, and a view of the Pacific Ocean from my balcony (sliiightly different accommodations from the roadside motels I’ve been staying in for most of the rest of the book tour).

It was all arranged by Sid Garza-Hillman, director of the Stanford Inn’s wellness center and author of the fantastic book Approaching the Natural. And someone I’m happy to call a friend after hanging out for a few days in Oakland and San Francisco, where Sid joined me in speaking at two of my tour events.

But the truth is that Sid and I became fast friends long before we met in person — our approaches to health and the active, plant-based lifestyle are so similar in their simplicity and affinity for small steps over big leaps, that it was only natural that we’d connect.

All of this, of course, is a long way of introducing a new podcast episode that Sid and I did together. We lit a fire at the Stanford Inn, sat down without any plan, and talked for an hour (or so) about health, what’s “natural” for human beings as a species, and why “approaching” that ideal — slowly and one step at a time — is the best strategy for sustainable health. We recorded it to use on both of our podcasts (check out Sid’s here).

Hope you enjoy it!

PS — As the tour enters its second month, the most common question I’ve gotten has become, “How’s the tour going?” The short answer is that it has been both incredible and incredibly hectic. The fact that it took me a week and a half just to get this episode published should give you an idea … so ignore our asking you to “come out to our San Francisco event,” unless you’ve got a time machine.

Here’s what Sid and I talk about in this episode:

  • Moving past the diet paradigm
  • Making gradual improvements in diet and fitness
  • Balancing technology in your day-to-day life
  • Finding the best calorie source
  • Does eating healthy make you happy?
  • Honesty and eating habits
  • Viewing mileage differently
  • The importance of creativity for a healthy life

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Vegan on the Road: How I’ve Eaten Healthier than Ever While Driving Across the Country

It took three weeks and 5500 miles, but yesterday, I hit the unofficial halfway point of my book tour — Seattle, Washington.

Fun place, by the way, with tons of vegan-friendly restaurants. And as I head down the west coast and back across the southern half of the country, I’m looking forward to more food options than I’ve had so far.

And believe me, when you’ve spent most of the past week driving long, barren stretches through states like Wyoming, Idaho, and Nebraska, you appreciate options.

To be honest, I’ve never found eating vegan while traveling all that difficult. But the constraints of the past three weeks — owing to the fact that I’m in a car — have made it more challenging. The three big ones:

  • I’m in a new hotel every single night, always without a kitchen and often with no fridge or microwave.
  • The car is packed so tightly that there’s no room for a cooler.
  • I’m without my beloved Blendtec — I left it for my wife and kids — or any blender, for that matter.

Finally, this is all on a budget — I’d go broke if I ate out at restaurants for all or even most of my meals. Selling books has helped to offset some costs of hotels, gas, and food, but this tour is a labor of love, not something that’s financially profitable by any means. So I’ve really got to keep an eye on my food cost.

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The Healthy (But Practical) Plant-Based Diet — A Typical Day

iStock 000003404781XSmallTwo and a half weeks into my book tour, things are finally becoming routine.

I’ve mastered the last-minute hotel search, figured out how to eat healthily while traveling, and gotten used to answering many of the same questions over and over in interviews and Q&A sessions.

One of the most common questions: What exactly do you eat during a typical day? 

Several people have expressed surprise that I didn’t include this in my book. The reason? Mainly, I didn’t include my typical day’s diet because the book is not about me. There are so many ways to “do” a plant-based diet; my way is just one of them. The book provides a framework and my favorite recipes, but there’s plenty of flexibility for the reader to swing towards raw or oil-free or even a vegetarian-but-non-vegan diet. I think of No Meat Athlete as a “gateway book” that gives people the tools to try out a healthy, practical plant-based diet, so that once they’re on board, they can take it in the direction that works for them.

But since people are curious, I’m happy to share here what I eat most days (when I’m at home, not on the road).

My Typical Day’s Diet

I eat according to a few simple guidelines (e.g., until I feel mostly full), and of course my meals and snacks vary, day to day. My focus is on practicality and health, and one of the amazing things I’ve found since going vegetarian and then vegan is that as I get further and further away from the processed-food world, my palate has adjusted so that those two aims coincide amazingly well with the goal we all have of eating food that tastes good.

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The First 10 Days of the No Meat Athlete Book Tour

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Speaking at JackRabbit NYC. Photo courtesy Ben Ko.

Wow, what a week! It’s been 10 days since I started my book tour, and I’ve had two events each in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and Ohio, plus Boston and New York City.

If all that weren’t enough for 10 days, I took a two-day “break” to run the RAGNAR Relay in DC on an ultra team … which meant running 40 miles of our team’s 200 total. In 90-degree heat. From a smelly, crowded, always-moving van. Over the course of 28 hours. Fun times!

Actually RAGNAR was a lot of fun, even if doing it in the middle of the book tour wasn’t my best idea ever — see Doug’s RAGNAR recap if you’re interested in more about how our team did and Doug’s do’s and don’ts.

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The No Meat Athlete RAGNAR DC team. 28 hours, 199 miles, 1 seriously disgusting van.

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The No Meat Athlete Book is Out Today (Saying Thanks)

bookphotoToday, the first day my book is officially available in stores and online (serendipitously, World Vegetarian Day), is a surreal one indeed.

I’m typing this post from the passenger seat of a car, driving to Boston for the second stop on my book tour, in just a few hours. Even that phrase — “my book tour” — feels very odd to actually say or write.

But it’s underway, and the faces, names, and stories of the people I met last night in the small town of Media, PA made it feel very real, reminding me why I decided to take on this tour in the first place.

The book is at the top of several categories on Amazon. All morning I’ve been doing phone interviews and email interviews and scheduling new ones, amidst excitedly reading early reviews of the book on blogs — some of my favorite blogs, no less. It’s like a dream, and one that I’m doing everything I can to appreciate while it lasts.

It is beyond incredible that all this has happened. And while I’m feeling lots of different emotions right now — giddiness, nervousness, excitement, fatigue, missing my wife and kids — the one keeping me centered and integrated is gratitude.

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