The Vegan Athlete’s Guide to Running and Eating in Portland, Oregon

Beautiful Vista of Portland, Oregon

Rose City. Rip City. Bridgetown. PDX. Whatever you call it, it’s all Portland, Oregon.

And people love it.

Portland is an eco-conscious, walkable, bikeable, city with an excellent public transit system. And while it may be better known for its professional sports teams — or perhaps the hilarious cult-classic Portlandia — it’s known locally for its vibrant vegan and active lifestyle community.

It’s a mecca for vegan foodies and athletes alike, and our appreciation for quality vegan food and the outdoors is a major reason for why my fiancee and I were drawn to this city in the first place.

Experiencing Portland as a Vegan Athlete

When you’re planning where to stay and what to do in Portland, it’s helpful to think of the city in quadrants.

Portland is divided into four quadrants by the Willamette River (which splits East and West Portland) and by Burnside Street (which splits the North and South sides). Whether you’re planning a running route or looking for somewhere to dine, consider which quadrant of Portland your destination will be in.

With that in mind, I’ve organized my Portland running and vegan food suggestions in this guide by area of the city.

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7 Simple Ways to Steal Stress-Free Moments (that Will Actually Fit Into Your Busy Day)

beautiful woman sitting in the grass

Athletes need physical recovery. Why?

Because if they can recover effectively from the physical stress of a workout, they can jump back into training more quickly, and achieve greater gains over time.

But, guess who else needs effective recovery?

We all do. We need emotional and mental recovery to handle life’s stresses.

The hitch is that most of us either feel like we don’t have enough time for ourselves to recover, or actually don’t have enough recovery time. And we stress ourselves the hell out.

The solution? Simple:

Learn how to steal moments. Take a moment previously meant for something else, and steal it back. Transforming it into exactly what you need.

The Not-So-Pretty Picture that is Chronic Stress

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7 Years of No Meat Athlete, in a Nutshell

Shell of walnut

So you’re new to No Meat Athlete, and don’t know where to start …

(If you’re not new, well, you can safely ignore this one.)

In more than seven years of being at it, we’ve produced a ton of content. Over 800 articles, close to 150 podcast episodes, systems for the marathon, triathlon, and meal planning, and a print book.

So where do you start?

Well, you’re subscribed to the emails, so that’s a good thing. (Or if someone forwarded you this and you want to get on the list, go here.)

Next, how about the podcast? Subscribe via iTunes or another platform, and you’ll get automatic updates about each new episode we make — one per week, usually.

Finally, dive in. A few nut-jobs (who I love, of course) have told me they started at the first post and read every single one, but these days that’s almost impossible.

So I’ve made it easy for you. Here’s a list of the 30 (give or take) most important, fundamental articles on No Meat Athlete, in five main topic areas, so that you can scan through and start with whatever most grabs your attention.

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10 Ways to Make Your Next Run an Adventure (Even in Your Neighborhood)

woman running on a mountain road at summer sunsetThis post was written by Doug Hay of Rock Creek Runner.

Quick: what are the most important personality traits for a runner to have?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably come up with things like:

  • Discipline
  • Work ethic
  • Toughness
  • Motivation
  • Focus

Good list. They’re all relevant to training success. But if that’s your list, then you missed the biggest one.

I’m talking about a less obvious trait. One that incorporates everything listed above and more, and sits at the top of my list for traits of a good runner.


Allow me to explain:

To adventure, as defined by the good folks over at Google, is “to engage in a hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.” Just reading that sends tingles of excitement down my spine.

An adventure is thrilling, so it takes care of the motivation and discipline. An adventure takes you out of your comfort zone, which leaves you focused and tough. An adventure is difficult, fun, and maybe even life-changing.

So why is a sense of adventure so important to running success? Because if you can keep the adventure high, everything else follows suit.

And an adventurous runner is someone I can count on to run in the rain, through the dark, when the streets are crowded or the trails remote.

They’re in it for the experience, not just the workout.

That’s what makes running stick. That’s what keeps you coming back for more.

I like to judge a run not by the pace or distance, but by the number of yelps and amount of time spent smiling.

Yelps mean I’m excited and pushing out of my comfort zone (and pushing my pace or distance in return). Smiles mean I’m having fun, and can’t wait to do it again.

All signs pointing towards adventure.

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On Bouncing Back

On the night of June 29th, I packed my suitcase for what was supposed to be just 10 days in Italy.

We would be spending some time with family before and after the trip, but we could do laundry there. So I needed only 10 days’ worth of clothes, my running shoes, my Kindle, and my computer. My wife, Erin, packed her suitcase and our kids’ similarly.

What we never could have guessed was that come October — more than three months after we left home — we’d still be living out of those same suitcases. Or that that night at the end of June would be the last we’d ever spend in our house.

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The All-New No Meat Athlete Shirts are Finally Here!



It’s here! The new look of No Meat Athlete has made its way to our shirts … but not without some drama.

Almost three months ago, along with a brief history of the running carrot, I announced that it was time for him to hang up his shoes.

He would be replaced by something new, something just slightly more serious and a tad bit tougher, to better convey what this plant-based athlete lifestyle and our No Meat Athlete movement is all about — on the shirts, website, and everything else.

Up until then, my wife and I had folded and shipped almost every shirt, all 25,000+ of them, by hand. But with the retirement of the running carrot, we decided it was finally time to pass that job off to someone who actually knows what they’re doing when it comes to managing inventory and fulfillment. (And you know what I mean if you ever waited months for a certain style and size of shirt to be back in stock. :))

And it’s a good thing we did …

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Join Us on the Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise in 2016


(And get a discount when you register before October 10th, plus an onboard credit. Details below.)

If you’ve read and listened to No Meat Athlete this year, then you know what an influence this year’s Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise has had on my family’s lifestyle.

It was Chef AJ’s talk on the cruise that inspired my wife, Erin, to lose 20 pounds and rediscover her passion for running and fitness. And it was the food on the ship and the talks by T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Michael Greger that convinced us to finally stop eating oil at home.

I’m excited to announce that next year I’ll be back on the cruise again, this time as a presenter. In addition to a giving a talk about setting big goals and developing the habits to achieve them, I’m also part of a panel discussion and Q&A with vegan fitness stars Robert Cheeke, Derek Tresize, and Marcella Torres.

Erin will be back as well, and we hope that you’ll join us February 27th through March 5th, 2016.

Why come on the cruise?

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A Look at No Meat Athlete — Oklahoma City


No Meat Athlete OKC, in front of the Flaming Lips’ Museum

If our first two running group successes, Miami and Virginia Beach, have been surprises, our third is a complete shocker. Oklahoma City … that’s beef country, isn’t it?

But continuing on the theme of our other successful groups, the lack of vegan options and activities nearby makes for strong, tight bonds among NMA OKC’s members.

In fact, the first time I met some of them wasn’t in Oklahoma City but at the Marshall Healthfest in Texas, to which three members (Gina, Jon, and Kaitlyn) had driven together — for six hours each way.

The point was driven home when I visited the group in Oklahoma earlier this year and several members told me things like, “Before this group, I had never met another vegan in person.” Or, “I hang out with my NMA friends more than I do my other friends now.”

Pretty crazy! Let’s see what makes NMA Oklahoma City work.


Strong Leadership, Committed Members

Several of our other running group leaders have been frustrated by the difficulty of getting more than a few members to show up for runs when they see other groups getting 20 to 30 people for their biggest events. Here’s the thing, though: OKC doesn’t get huge numbers either, but makes it work nonetheless.

So how do they do it?

Gina Stone, the leader of the OKC group, says:

I had no idea what to expect when I scheduled the first run in October. Honestly, I was fully prepared to run by myself that first day. As it turned out, five people and one puppy showed up!

We’ve continued to meet every Sunday since then. Although we have about 137 members in the Facebook group, participation for our runs is small, ranging from about one to ten runners each week. But the bond we have with one another and the commitment of our regulars is strong.

It was so easy for us to connect each Sunday because we were just thrilled to finally have a conversation that didn’t involve us defending our protein intake. We have an amazing group of people who probably would not have ever come together had it not been for the NMA running group.

While the turnout varies each week, a few members form a rock-solid core that’s consistently showing up for runs and other group events. Another group of more casual members rotates in and out.

And it seems like it’s been that way since the beginning:

Even though I’m the one that creates the event on Facebook and “shouts” directions as we meander through downtown each week, this group would not be what it is without the initial enthusiasm, support, and participation from Kris, Jonathan, Nelly, and Emily. As the group grows, we continue to acquire new, committed “regulars” who add layer upon layer of awesomeness to the runs and the veg scene in our city.

It’s the people that make this group rock, no doubt. There is no better feeling than blazing through the odious Oklahoma weather every week with a mighty tribe of paradigm-busting, compassionate, inspiring athletes.


Like Clockwork

Every week I scan through the photos that our running groups post in their Facebook groups, and early on, OKC stood out. It wasn’t that they had huge numbers, just that every single week, a few people turned out. One low-turnout run didn’t mean the end of the group; they’d just have fun and show up again the next week.

Same time. Same place. Every week. In Gina’s words:

Our group is consistent, welcoming, diverse, and reliable. We meet at the same time, relatively same spot, run the same course, and encourage all levels of ability and plant-based eating to join us. In a place like Oklahoma, it is easy to be a vegan freak, but it’s even easier to latch on to those individuals who share your unique beliefs and lifestyle.

What Makes It Work

In a nutshell, it’s:

  • Consistency. Even though the turnout has never been huge, the group can count on a run every week. Same time, same place.
  • Friendships. Some members also go to other running groups together, and the Facebook page really took off with lively conversation, including an ongoing argument about the merits of grapefruit.
  • The common bond in a place where vegans are few.
  • A few members who are really committed, forming a very strong core.

I had no idea what a blast I’d have visiting this group in Oklahoma City. I’ve harped on the closeness of the friendships a lot here already, but it took actually hanging out with them for a weekend to fully understand how powerful a factor this is.

The day I arrived, we had delicious almond milk cappuccino at Elemental Coffee, then pizza and beers while we waited out a tornado warning. The next day it was hot yoga and a visit to Mim’s Bakery, a vegan food truck run by Emily, a member of the group. And of course, the obligatory stop at the Flaming Lips’ museum for the official photo during our run, before enjoying one more meal out at one of just a few vegan-friendly spots in town.

As unlikely as it might seem in the heart of beef country, this group made being a vegan in OKC for a weekend a blast. Limited in options, sure, but amazing people to share the journey with — people who “get” you and want to see and be a part of real change for their city.

If any one factor is the reason for their success, that’s it.

A Few More Photos of NMA OKC









Haven’t run with your city’s NMA group yet? Check out our full listing and get on it! And if it doesn’t exist in your city yet, why not be the one to start it?