14 Things We Wish We Knew Before We Went Vegan

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A few years ago Matt wrote a post called 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went Vegan.

It was a reflection on his first two years as a vegan, and all the things he wished someone had told him before he made that change. Now that I’m inching towards my two year anniversary, we revisit that topic together and compare lists.

In today’s episode, we discuss those lessons, how they’ve impacted our experience so far, and why some of Matt’s have changed since his original post.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • This is the joke that never ends
  • Pizza … is it ruined forever?
  • How our cooking has adapted
  • Why it’s more than just a change in diet
  • The community is bigger than we thought

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How to GAIN Weight on a Plant-Based Diet

Seems like everywhere you turn, somebody’s got a new solution to help you lose weight. But what if your problem is the opposite: instead of wanting to lose weight, what if you want to put it on?

If you’re sick of being the stereotypical “skinny vegan,” and want to look as strong as you feel, then what do you do?

Even before I was vegetarian or vegan, I had trouble gaining weight. But with enough focus, I eventually figured out how to do so, through a combination of nutrition (hint: lots of peanut butter sandwiches!) and lifting weights. And a few years later, having lost the weight as a vegan and ultrarunner, I set out to gain weight once again — and I succeeded in putting on 17 pounds in six weeks.

In today’s episode, co-host Doug and I discuss why someone might want to gain weight, whether or not it’s healthy in the long run, and exactly how to do it on a vegan diet.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The not-so-complicated calorie formula for gaining weight
  • A vegan “fat shake” — the recipe
  • Why you should stop running to bulk up
  • Supplements I’ve used to build muscle
  • Are there health benefits to putting on weight?

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Where Do You Get Your Protein?

tris di legumi in ciotola su fondo legno

For 91 episodes of No Meat Athlete Radio, we refrained from talking about protein. It’s almost as if we wanted to prove a point.

I wish this had been intentional. But maybe the fact that it wasn’t makes the point even more strongly: protein really just never came up when we brainstormed ideas for topics.

But although longtime vegans and vegetarians know that protein just isn’t the issue most people make it out to be, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the conversation. If the protein hang-up prevents most people from giving a plant-based lifestyle a chance, then it’s worth talking about.

So here it is: the protein episode.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

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Our Vegan Trip to Italy

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It almost sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

Italy is one of my favorite places in the world, but after I went vegetarian and then vegan, I thought my days of visiting this beautiful country with all its rich (and often animal-based) food culture were over.

Turns out I was wrong: there’s a part of Italy that traditionally eats a largely plant-based diet, still with some meat and cheese but with many, many dishes made from only plants.

My wife, Erin, and I just got back from 10 days in Cilento, where I was a guest co-host (along with vegan cheese specialist Miyoko Schinner) on the Vegano Italiano tour. In this episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, Erin and I recap this amazing trip and talk about what is without a doubt in our minds the best way to visit Italy as a vegan.

PS — I apologize that the audio quality of this episode isn’t nearly as good as it usually is. We recorded this episode from the road, rather than our normal setup, and in future episodes the quality should return to normal.

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Small Steps or Massive Action? The Best Way to Make A Change

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Have conventional habit change methods been wrong this whole time?

A few weeks ago I wrote about a major mistake I see person after person make as they start a new habit. They either go all in, dive head first into massive change, and burn out just as reality starts to set in.

Or they take the small steps approach. They follow the slow, arduous process of tiny steps. And with no major breakthroughs or results, the motivation simply disappears.

My approach is different … I think you can do both. Instead of choosing either massive action or small steps, you can bridge the gap between the two, and gain both immediate results and the structure to make it stick.

In today’s episode we discuss that philosophy, how it’s the only process that has worked for me, and the steps you should take for lasting habit change.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Should you go all in on a big habit at the risk of burnout?
  • Starting a habit while preserving your will-power
  • Why end dates are important for new habits
  • Building walls that guarantee success
  • Our problem with patience

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What to Eat Before a Race

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Most of us have a pre-race ritual: we wake up at a certain time, put on a certain outfit, do just the right amount of warming up.

But what about eating that final pre-race meal?

What to eat before a race is one of the toughest questions new runners struggle to answer. Eat too little and you’re low on energy and hungry late in the race. Eat too much and you feel bloated and heavy.

The balance between energy-packed and easy on the stomach is a delicate one to find, even for seasoned runners.

In today’s episode, we discuss what to eat the morning of a long run or race, and why solid foods might not be the best option. We also share our own routines … which happen to be remarkably different.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Eating for energy vs. eating for comfort
  • Does “healthy” matter on race day?
  • The optimal time for your pre-race meal
  • Why I drink more than I eat before a race
  • How to discover which foods work best for you

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Running on Vacation – is it worth it?

Right as this episode goes live, I’ll be landing in Rome, Italy, where my wife Erin and I are taking part in a vegan tour. With red wine, fresh vegetables, and beautiful countryside, it’s guaranteed to be a blast.

But this week also marks Week 2 of my official marathon training plan. So it begs the question:

Should I be running while on vacation?

If you’re a regular listener to the podcast, it should come as no surprise that NMA Radio co-host Doug and I approach this answer differently. He loves running, and would do it all the time … including on vacation.

I, on the other hand, don’t. And I prefer my vacations free of stresses like a running routine.

In today’s episode, Doug and I debate our different point of views, and discuss the pros and cons of keeping up a vacation running routine. Doug also shares his tips for planning a running trip … the vacation he looks forward to most each summer.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The affects of inconsistency on your running routine
  • Tips for running in a new city
  • Why a mental break from running may help your training
  • Can you take an extended break during a training plan?
  • How to plan an epic running vacation

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The Non-Running-Geek’s Guide to Running Form

The marathon.. speed

As young children, we were all runners: chasing friends on the playground, screaming through sprinklers, and sprinting down the first base line in tee-ball.

And we ran with pretty darn good form, too — without having to think about it.

Does this mean that we don’t need to worry about form now?

Of course not … but it doesn’t mean we need to obsess over it, either. Instead, the basics of running form can be understood with just a few simple keys: keys that help us, as adults, to run like we did when we were kids.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The single most important ingredient of proper running form
  • What minimalism can teach you about form
  • Your optimal running cadence, and how to get there
  • Why form adjustments will slow your pace
  • Does shoe choice affect your stride?

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