Welcome to the No Meat Athlete FAQ page! Maybe you’re new to vegetarianism, running, or both. Or maybe you’re not so new, but you’ve starting thinking more seriously about it. Either way, here are the answers to the most common questions we get asked by our amazing readers.
1) Where do you get your protein?
Ah the most FA of the all the Q’s! Protein isn’t nearly the issue that most non-vegetarians think it is, and I’m far from the only vegan out there running marathons and ultramarathons. (Check out my interview with elite ultrarunner Scott Jurek, for example.)
But it’s a tough question to answer in just a few words, so check out these articles on plant-based protein.
2) Isn’t it expensive to eat vegetarian or vegan?
It certainly can be, but I actually found that when I stopped spending money on meat (one of the most expensive items in the store), I was able to afford more organic and local produce. But there are all sorts of other ways to reduce your grocery bill, even when you’re eating healthy: I wrote a whole post about eating cheaply as a vegetarian.
3) How do I eat healthier as a vegetarian or vegan?
Good question. There’s plenty of vegetarian and vegan junk food in the world, so it’s entirely possible to eat an unhealthy plant-based diet. The good news is it it’s very easy to easy healthy if you just cook your own food, and you don’t have to be a superstar chef to do it. Check out The Only Healthy Eating Guide You’ll Ever Need and our full list of Vegetarian Recipes for Athletes
4) What about iron?
Iron is perhaps a bigger issue than protein for those who don’t eat meat, so it’s worth thinking about. Here’s an excellent, comprehensive guest article on how to get enough iron as a vegetarian, and great resource on how much iron plant foods contain.
5) How do I get started running?
Running is one of those things that takes some time to start enjoying, for most people anyway. But there are definitely some steps you can take to make the learning process as painless and enjoyable as possible. Check out 5 Ways to (Finally) Start Running.
6) I want to run, but it’s hard for me and I hate it! How do I get to actually enjoy running?
Remember how in gym class, they made us run the mile one day each year? And (at least at my school) if you were the slowest kid, you got made fun of. Well, I blame that for making everyone think that “running” has to mean “running fast.”
First, slow down. Way down. You don’t need to put everything you have into every run; take your time and enjoy it. Try running one to two minutes slower per mile than you usually do, and it will be easier and more enjoyable. And if you’re constantly dealing with injuries, like a lot runners are, one of the most important (and simple) things you can do is start taking smaller, quicker steps. Check out this article on how to increase your turnover rate.
Also, they say forcing a smile while you’re running helps trigger the “runner’s high” endorphins faster. So smile!
7) Running gives me an appetite! How do I stop myself from eating too much junk when I’m training hard?
It’s normal for your caloric intake to rise with your activity level. Don’t be scared of this; in fact your best option is to embrace it. Just try to eat more healthy food at each meal and keep healthy food around to snack on. If you try to resist and starve yourself, it’s likely that eventually your hunger will get the best of you’ll end up scarfing down a whole bag of chips in one sitting. Smoothies are a great way to pack a lot of healthy calories into a tasty meal or snack, and you’ll find many more healthy, high-energy recipes on our Vegetarian Recipes for Athletes page.
8) I’m injured! What should I do about my sprained/broken/aching _____?
First off, do not try to “run through it.” That will make it worse. Second, I’m just a dork who likes writing about running and eating vegetables, not a medical doctor. Talk to a doctor, ideally one who specializes in sports medicine, and get a professional opinion about your injury.
9) I remember you had a section about qualifying for the Boston Marathon, but I can’t find it now. Where is it?
Qualifying for Boston is the accomplishment I’m most proud of in my life as a runner — I took over 100 minutes off my first marathon time of 4:52 to get all the way down to below 3:10 to get into Boston. But although the posts about it resonate strongly with others who are trying to get to Boston, they don’t really apply to many more casual runners. But if you’re someone interested in qualifying for Boston and learning how I did it, here you go.
10) Do you have any posts about cycling, swimming, or triathlons?
We do. Most of them are written by our resident triathlete, Susan Lacke, who went from couch potato to Ironman triathlete in less than two years. Here’s a collection of posts Susan wrote for the beginning triathlete.
11) How do you find time to maintain this site, train for marathons and ultras, cook all your food, have a kid, and still have fun?
People ask this a lot, looking (I think) for a secret that will magically free up hours upon hours in their day. The much-less-sexy answer is that I really enjoy all of these things, so none of them feel like work. Also, not watching much television helps a lot. Here’s an article I wrote called You Have All the Time You Need, which explains a lot. Oh yeah, and I’m a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
12) I saw someone wearing a No Meat Athlete shirt at a race. Where can I get one?