10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went Vegan

How do vegans possibly do it?

Even after I became vegetarian, I turned this question over and over in my mind. I knew that I wanted to quit eating animal products but just couldn’t imagine making it work. I had even tried a vegan diet for a month, only to learn in the process that I wasn’t ready.

The commitment to officially say “I’m vegan” was a decision I deliberated about for a long time. In the end, it took two full years before I completely cut out eggs, milk, butter, and cheese. But when the time was finally right, there was no question about it.

Two and a half years later, now that this once extreme lifestyle now feels familiar, I have just enough perspective to wish I could go back and give my pre-vegan self (or someone else in my shoes) a few pointers.

So whenever they give us the promised time machines and jetpacks and I get the chance to go back and talk to that guy, here’s how I’ll help him prepare:

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Details About the No Meat Athlete Book Tour!

It’s official! But this map isn’t, yet.

Call me excited. I’m happy to finally announce, officially, that throughout the month of October and a good bit of November of this year, I’ll be doing a nationwide tour around the release of my book, No Meat Athlete: Run on Plants & Discover Your Fittest, Fastest, Happiest Self (which is now available for pre-order at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other great booksellers).

I’m calling it a book tour … you know, so that I sound like an actual grown-up. But let’s be serious.

What this really is, is an excuse to do something I’ve dreamed of forever: traveling across the country to run amok in 30(ish) cities, all along the way meeting, talking to, running with, racing with, eating with, cooking with, or perhaps grabbing a coffee or a beer with like-minded folks and No Meat Athlete readers.

Which, I’m hoping, will include you.

I don’t have a ton of details beyond these yet, but that’s where you come in.

I’m looking for venues to host tour events — certainly we’ll do some at traditional bookstores like Barnes and Noble or independents, but what I think will make this way more fun is if many of the events aren’t at bookstores. Like all the stuff I mentioned above … stuff that’s outside, stuff that requires moving, stuff that involves scrumptious plant-based food and drinks.

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My Rules for Navigating Vegan Life in a Non-Vegan World

[compass map image]A few months ago, fitness writer Craig Ballantyne wrote a post for Zen Habits called 12 Rules to Live By that I really liked.

I was inspired: just as Craig intended, his list made me examine about my own life rules, borrowing from his where I found them useful. The point was not to say, You should follow these rules too, but rather:

These are my rules. Have you thought about yours?

As an exercise, I put together my own, narrower list, just around the topic of veganism (distinct from healthy eating, for which I have another list). I’ve gotten here gradually over the course of about six years, beginning with the day I decided I was going to cut just the red meat out of my diet — and that was a big deal! So it’s interesting for me to look at the rules I now eat (and live) by, many of which didn’t form consciously but instead resulted from habit, grooves that just kept wearing deeper over time.

Like Craig with his list, I have no intention of this being a “here’s what you should do” post. Nor is it final or comprehensive — I’m still progressing, still figuring out how I want to eat and what I want to be my “policies” as they relate to food.

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Google Reader Users: Find an Alternative Way to Get NMA Posts (Before July 1!)

Kind of a weird post, since usually I prefer to handle housekeeping issues with social media or email. But this one’s important if you read No Meat Athlete and other blogs via Google Reader.

Google Reader officially goes away on July 1. That’s this coming Monday, just a few days from now.

Which means if you want to keep having No Meat Athlete posts delivered to you, without having to remember to come visit the blog, you’ll need to choose a new way to do it.

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15 Fabulous No Meat Athlete Shirt Photos

Well, spring race season is in full swing, and that means bombard-the-NMA-Facebook-page-with-your-shirt-photos season is too!

It’s been a while since I put up a collection of my favorites, so … here goes! The best ones we’ve gotten since the beginning of the year (as judged by me, based mainly on factors like coolness, absurdity, and general running-carrotness).

Enjoy!

NMA All-Stars

Gregg and Kellie, proud finishers of their first ultramarathon, the 50K Trail Mix Ultra in Minnesota. Yep, that’s snow.

[gregg and kelly image]

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A 30-Day Juicing Challenge (+ 3 Favorite Juice Recipes)

Note: This post was written by Doug Hay, who blogs at Rock Creek Runner (and co-hosts the NMA podcast!).

It all started with a documentary.

We were flipping through Netflix looking for a post-dinner movie when my fiancée Katie landed on Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.

As tends to happen after a good documentary, I was immediately convinced. I knew everything about juicing and had to do it immediately or I might very well die. Before the credits rolled, we were looking up juicer options and trying to fit the purchase into our budget.

As if the Juicing Gods were smiling down on our household, the No Meat Athlete inbox received an email from the good people at Lifestyle Products Group asking if we wanted to test out their new product, the NutriPro Juicer.

Just like that, a challenge was born.

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The 17 Weirdest Things I Do Now That I’m Vegan

We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.

-Dr. Seuss

The cover of We Are All Weird, by Seth Godin. Good book.

Let’s face it. Being vegan (or even vegetarian) is pretty weird.

But that’s okay — weird is the new cool. It’s also the new normal, according to Seth Godin (whose post I borrowed the Dr. Seuss quote from).

It seems weird begets weird, though, because in the two years my family has been vegan, bit by bit we’ve gone a little nuts-o in our other habits — many of which have nothing to do with veganism.

And yet, in a way, they’re all tied back to that fundamental choice to be different from 98 percent of the rest of the world in our food choices. Being weird, I’ve found, is not just fun; it’s addictive.

And so — since my brain is fried from book writing and moving and NYC-Vegetarian-FoodFest-ing — I figured I’d write a fun post today about the kinky things we do since going vegan.

1. Live microwave-free. I thought I could never give up my microwave, but it turns out it was a lot like going vegan — I used it less and less over time as it became less appealing, and eventually it was just a matter of making the decision to go all the way. It’s great — lots of counter space, one less big, ugly box in the kitchen, and food that feels better for us (whether it actually is or not, I’m not sure). It’s slightly more work to steam or bake or simmer our leftovers, but it’s work that is somehow joyful.

2. Hand-grind our coffee. More oddly joyful work. After reading Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Chef late last year, I got a hand-crank burr grinder and an Aeropress, and it’s the only way I’ve made coffee since. The combination not only makes the best coffee I’ve ever had; it’s also convenient enough to bring on a plane. I did have a bit of disaster when I spilled the grounds all over my lap on a flight home from San Diego, though. [FYI, links to Amazon here are affiliate links.]

3. Have a freezer full of broccoli stems and strawberry tops. Why? To feed to our Blendtec, of course. Might as well waste one less thing and get some more green in our smoothies. Speaking of which …

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Everyone Welcome (Even “Hipster Vegetarians”)

Leslie, Cathy and Jon at the No Meat Athlete tent after Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona

“So … are you guys, like, real vegetarians? Or just the hipster kind?”

It was 5 AM on a Sunday morning and I hadn’t found a cup of coffee yet. It was far too early for this shit. I looked the stocky dude at the next-door tent up and down.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Well, you know how vegetarians are. You guys probably say you don’t eat meat, and then you go home and eat a whole steak but don’t tell anyone.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, but …”

“Yeah, you just can’t resist bacon, right?” he interrupted.

I smiled politely and walked away in search of coffee.

I shared this story several times on Sunday, January 20, as I congregated with No Meat Athletes at our VIP tent at Rock & Roll Arizona. The response was always the same: an eye-roll and a chuckle of “oh, yeah, I’ve heard that before!”

To outside observers, our tent may have looked like any other team tent. There was a cooler full of water and juice, fruits and breakfast burritos on the table, and a lot of happy people in matching shirts. But for the 47 marathoners, half-marathoners, and mini-marathon finishers in No Meat Athlete shirts, it was something much more.

It was a community.

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