No Meat Athlete http://www.nomeatathlete.com Vegetarian & Vegan Running & Fitness Fri, 22 May 2015 01:00:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Running on Plants in the Magic City: An Up-close Look at No Meat Athlete Miami http://www.nomeatathlete.com/nma-miami/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/nma-miami/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 17:00:15 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25046 When last fall we kicked off the No Meat Athlete running groups project, with 75 groups around the U.S. and world, I thought I knew pretty well which groups would thrive and which would have an uphill battle from the beginning. Surely, I thought, the big, vegan-friendly cities that we all think of as such would provide

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Members of the fabulous No Meat Athlete Miami group

When last fall we kicked off the No Meat Athlete running groups project, with 75 groups around the U.S. and world, I thought I knew pretty well which groups would thrive and which would have an uphill battle from the beginning.

Surely, I thought, the big, vegan-friendly cities that we all think of as such would provide the most fertile grounds for our running carrots to take root.

Turns out, I was completely wrong.

Eight months after starting, the running groups project has been a huge success, and for me personally, as fulfilling as anything I’ve done with No Meat Athlete. But in a million years I’d never have guessed who our most active groups would turn out to be.

In no particular order: Miami, Virginia Beach, Oklahoma City, and Sydney (that’s right, Australia!).

To find out how these surprising groups have done it — and more than that, to hang out with amazing people and be a part of all that they’ve got going on — I’ve made it my mission to visit each of them. So far I’ve made it to Miami and Virginia Beach, and this weekend I’ll hop over to Oklahoma City after a conference in Denver (plus a run with the Denver NMA group while I’m there!). As for Sydney, right now it’s on the “one day” list … but I’ll get there. :)

Over the next few weeks I’ll post about these groups as I visit them, along with my thoughts and those of the group leaders about what exactly makes up their secret sauce. Partly, this is to help our other groups and to inspire new leaders (you, maybe?) to start new groups — but I also hope this information is useful for people who want to start groups around this cause that aren’t NMA related.

Because, as Seth Godin says, if the tribe isn’t connected, then it’s not really a tribe.

No Meat Athlete Miami

Fresh off the Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise at the end of March, my wife Erin and I stayed an extra day in Miami to spend some time with the very first NMA group to distinguish itself as a standout.

The fun group videos that co-leader Alex Ruiz posts after their runs were the first thing to catch my attention, and in January the group even got some ink on a local paper’s website.

I could try to put it in words, but nothing quite captures that Miami feel like video. Here’s the one Alex made of our visit (there’s no sound right now, but we’re working on that …) :

After loading up on tropical fruit in an outdoor market (not a bad thing to be able to do in March), Erin and I met the group’s co-leaders Alex Ruiz, Jeanette Ruiz, and Annie Loffredo for veggie burgers and a craft beer:

Miami leaders Jeanette, Alex, and Annie (Erin and me on the sides)

Miami leaders Jeanette, Alex, and Annie (Erin and me on the sides)

One of the common denominators among successful groups is passionate leaders, and as we walked for a few blocks (vegan gelato in hand), I understood what makes Alex, Jeanette, and Annie such great leaders: they see this NMA group not just as a way to have fun and make friends, but as part of something much, much bigger. For them, NMA Miami is a way to grow the plant-based movement in their city, which they said had been slower than other big cities to come around on the lifestyle.

Case in point: Jeanette and Alex have so stepped into the role of plant-based ambassadors in Miami that they recently started a podcast, called Planted in Miami, where they aim to help the movement take root there (AHH, my puns are terrible!) by interviewing local business people, athletes, and others who are furthering the sustainable lifestyle in Miami.

It’s not the weather, it’s the people!

For our visit, Erin and I had budgeted the entire day, starting at noon, figured we’d be finished by 7:00pm to hit the road for a five-hour drive up the coast to our relatives’ house.

But after a nice, hot, three-mile run in the late afternoon and some delicious burritos at Choices Cafe for dinner, we found ourselves talking right on through our 7 o’clock departure time. Then it was eight o’clock, then nine … and finally we decided we couldn’t stay another minute if we wanted to make up the coast in one piece (as it was, we had to stop at a rest area for a nap around midnight).

In those few hours, we felt it. The weather, the vibe, the plant-based scene that’s just starting to come around. And the people: another trait among our successful groups is that perfect mix of personalities that you just can’t engineer.

Here’s what Jeanette says about the connections the Miami group has made:

Hands down what makes our group awesome are the people. We think it’s because we come together with the passionate goal of living a meat-free diet so we automatically have something that bonds us. There isn’t a get together where our diet and lifestyle isn’t discussed. But it’s a good thing because we have vegans, vegetarians, and veg curious people asking questions, sharing tips and stories and basically fostering a judgement-free zone. Many friendships have formed within the group. Just the other day we bumped into some NMA runners having lunch together and it warmed our hearts that they met through the group.

I particularly like what she says about the friendships within the group: someone told me that NMA Miami even spawned a spin-off book club among a couple members! I’ve heard lots of similar stories from other groups about sub-groups of people that meet for extracurricular runs and dinners.

What else makes the Miami group work?

As I said above, when we started these groups, it was easy to peg the big, vegan-friendly cities as likely successes. But in fact, the biggest cities have proven to be some of the most challenging, probably because NMA groups are competing for attention and time with so much else in those places. (I noticed the converse of this phenomenon on my book tour, where my events in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska surprised me as two of the most crowded.)

But as of the biggest metropolitan areas in the United States, Miami is an exception to our “smaller is easier” rule. When I asked Jeanette (who blogs at OM the Moment) what she thought made it work, she said:

We really try to build a sense of community in our group. For example, when someone misses a run, we make sure to text or email to check-in. Every time someone joins the group, we welcome them publicly on Facebook so they feel it’s more than just a running group. Each week, we also feature a NMA runner by asking them 5 questions to get to know them better.

We make it a point to get to know something about each member. Because the group has grown (148 people), it’s hard to speak to everyone at the events but Alex and I split it up and compare notes about people afterwards. We really try to not let anyone feel left out. But everyone is so interesting that it makes it easy to make conversation. We even have people bringing their kids in strollers to not miss the events. How cool is that?

From my visit and sitting down with Jeanette, Alex, and Annie, here’s what struck me as central to Miami’s success:

  • The “Member of the Week” feature they do on Facebook.
  • Meeting once per month on a Sunday morning — I suspect that meeting monthly, rather than weekly, is helpful in making a big city group work, where there’s always lots of other stuff going on.
  • A “no runner left behind” policy — one of the leaders always stays in the back of the pack to run with the slowest runner. Also, at our out-and-back run, Alex stopped and waited at the turnaround to show new runners where it was.
  • Alex records lots of each event with his GoPro, then puts together a short video, which he shares along with lots of photos on the group’s Facebook page afterward.
  • Using an Instagram account and posting events on a local Meetup page.
  • Going to the same place (Choices Cafe) for brunch after each run. They’ve also made arrangements with another local restaurant to make a special vegan dish for when their group comes in.
  • An active Facebook page, with people sharing blog posts, recipes, and anything related (but this could be a consequence, rather than a cause, of having an active group).

And certainly, the Miami brand of winter weather hasn’t hurt, either. The scorching summer will be a challenge, but I know they can do it. Go, NMA Miami!

A few more photos …

matt fruit IMG_9560 IMG_4240 IMG_9977

Join (or start) your local NMA group

Check out the listing of all the groups and connect on Facebook. And if there’s none near you, here’s how to start it! If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with our groups coordinator, Maggie Vining, at maggie [at] nomeatathlete [dot] com.

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My Top 5 Favorite Guilty Pleasure Foods, Drinks, and Habits http://www.nomeatathlete.com/indulge/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/indulge/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 19:22:42 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24998 This post is sponsored by Omission. All words, opinions, and lack of willpower are my own. About six weeks ago, my wife and I stopped cooking with oil at home. I don’t go out of my way to avoid it when I’m traveling or just out to eat — just another example of the “small

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This post is sponsored by Omission. All words, opinions, and lack of willpower are my own.

About six weeks ago, my wife and I stopped cooking with oil at home. I don’t go out of my way to avoid it when I’m traveling or just out to eat — just another example of the “small steps” approach to change I’ve used ever since I first started thinking about going vegetarian, about seven years ago.

I can see how this latest twist might appear overly restrictive. Trust me — not that long ago, it looked that way to me, too.

But like every other step on this journey, eating oil-free is one of those things that, over time and after several brief experiments, started to seem more and more workable. And which, so far, has been incredibly easy (except when it comes to popcorn, which is no longer what they call “good”).

But this post isn’t about restriction. In fact, it’s about the opposite.

My Favorite Indulgences

Lest you think I live like a monk, today I want to highlight several of my favorite indulgences that remain in my diet and life — those drinks, foods, and habits that I hang onto, out of the belief that a “healthy” lifestyle that’s completely restrictive — to the point of causing stress — isn’t healthy at all.

(Oh yeah, and also out of a belief that these things are delicious and wonderful and that I’m completely powerless to give them up.)

But as you’ll see, there are easy steps I take — and that you can take, too — to mitigate the negative impact these little, almost-daily pleasures might have.

1. Coffee

Is coffee actually a health food? Maybe. Or maybe not. I’ve seen so much research on both sides that I’ve thrown up my hands and given up trying to decide.

But I do know that it’s delicious and gets me fired up to do good work and make a ruckus. And that my life is better with coffee than without it. (This after going months without any, enough time to be fully free of any caffeine dependence.)

I keep it extremely simple — one 320 mL cup of locally, small-batch roasted coffee each day. No sugar, no milk. Why exactly 320 mL? Because I’ve gone off the deep end and gotten really into doing pour-overs at home, with a scale and hand-crank grinder and all. It takes me 10 minutes or so to make that single cup, so it certainly ain’t Keurig … but those 10 minutes are heavenly, just as serious Zen people will tell you is the time spent making tea.

Every morning.

Every morning.

2. Beer

Beer, and alcohol in general, is another one with no shortage of arguments over whether it’s good or bad for you. My excuse recently has been this article, which points to a New England Journal of Medicine study linking moderate alcohol consumption (even beyond what’s typically recommended) to longer lifespan.

I go back and forth between beer and wine, but since (a) my hometown of Asheville, NC is a craft beer mecca, (b) it’s easier to determine which beer is vegan, and (c) I’m a sometimes-homebrewer, I tend to favor the bubbly, hoppy stuff.

So how do I keep it healthy? I stick to one a night, with rare (but legendary) exceptions. And as much as I enjoy a good 8% ABV double IPA, I try to stay in the 5% range most of the time so as not to let it affect my sleep.

Omission Brewery is a healthy choice, because not only are its three styles vegan and relatively low ABV, it’s also crafted to remove gluten. Unlike typical gluten-free beers, though, Omission is actually brewed with barley (the gluten-containing ingredient in beer), then treated with an enzyme that breaks down the gluten. Although the use of barley prevents the beer from being certified gluten-free, you can look up your bottle on their website to ensure that particular batch is below 20ppm gluten. Of their three styles, Pale Ale is by far my favorite.

I don’t have much of an issue with gluten, but my wife does, and it seems only to have gotten worse as our diet gets better. So, especially as the weather warms up, it’s nice to be able to share a beer with her out on the porch while our kids play in the sandbox (and without exception dump sand on the 2-year old’s head). As shown, sans kids, in my artful picture below.

[omission photo]

3. Chocolate

chocolate is yet another food that can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on how you do it.

Although I used to throw back the dark chocolate we used to get at Halloween, I’ve come a long way. Nowadays, I like the really dark stuff, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s packed with anti-oxidants and lower in sugar and (usually) fat than milk chocolate. It’s also an anti-angiogenesis food.

So a few times a week, I eat a few squares of dark chocolate. (See No Meat Athlete co-author Matt Ruscigno’s book all about cooking with cacao, if you haven’t yet.)

One warning that my friend Leo gave me when we visited Dandelion Chocolate in his then-hometown of San Francisco: not all 70, 80, or even 90 percent cacao chocolate is created equal. The percentage measures the amount of cacao compared to other ingredients (sugar, mainly), but it doesn’t tell you how much of that cacao is from cacao butter, which is pure fat. Expensive chocolate is often made by removing most of the cacao solids so that what’s left is a large amount of cacao butter. Rich tasting, sure, but not the most complex of flavors or the healthiest way to eat chocolate.

The distinction to look for is “whole bean,” so that the cacao is made up of the natural proportions of cocoa solids to cocoa butter.

4. Nuts

Nuts are becoming more universally accepted as a health food, as a preponderance of research (including the landmark Adventist Health Study) has linked them to health and longevity.

But some people, including Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, maintain that nuts increase the risk for heart disease because of their caloric density, and I agree that it’s easy to go overboard with nuts if you’ve got weight to lose.

A simple solution is to eat them raw and without salt (or only a small amount of salt if none seems impossible). This drastically reduces their addictive properties, because hey, they don’t taste as good! But they’re still enjoyable, and more of the healthful properties of the fat stay intact without high-temperature cooking.

Almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, and walnuts are the big ones in my house, and we eat them in smoothies, as cashew cheeze, plain, or in trail mix.

5. TV

Just in case you were beginning to think that all my “indulgences” were actually just thinly veiled health foods, this one will change that.

I don’t think there’s anything healthy about TV. Pure enjoyment, and a lot of times it’s not even that, instead just a mindless activity to help you decompress after a hard, stressful day. So how do you limit the damage?

Easy: cancel cable! We did it a few years ago, and it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Our TV time plummeted, and our do-things-that-matter time soared. Not to mention, it’ll save you 133,369 bucks.

I still watch some TV, via Netflix and Amazon Prime. Particularly entire series of sitcoms, like The Office and Parks and Recreation — because if the goal is to unwind, for me these are preferable than admittedly more high-brow dramas. But I don’t want to get addicted or spend that half hour stressed out, so I don’t watch The Wire or Breaking Bad or True Detective, despite everyone’s saying that “you have to.”

Giveaway Time!

The folks at Omission, who sponsored this post, are giving away a swag bag full of … well, swag! I’m told it includes Omission beer, a neoprene six-pack carrier, men’s and women’s Omission clothing, and a bottle opener!

To enter:

1. Be 21 years old.

2. Leave a comment here telling us all about your favorite indulgence(s).

That’s it! Then I’ll randomly choose a winner next Wednesday (el seis-o de Mayo), and announce his or her name in the comments section.

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Rich Roll on the High-Energy, Plantpower Diet (Plus, Win a Copy of His New Book!) http://www.nomeatathlete.com/rich-roll-plantpower-way/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/rich-roll-plantpower-way/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 18:26:14 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24976 In just a few short years since he gave up cheeseburgers and decided to train for a triathlon, Rich Roll has gotten his name on the short list of people you mention when somebody asks if a plant-based diet can work for athletes. It started with his surprising finish at Ultraman, essentially a double Ironman over the course

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rich-radio

In just a few short years since he gave up cheeseburgers and decided to train for a triathlon, Rich Roll has gotten his name on the short list of people you mention when somebody asks if a plant-based diet can work for athletes.

It started with his surprising finish at Ultraman, essentially a double Ironman over the course of three days in Hawaii.

Then it was being named one of the 25 Fittest Guys in the World by Men’s Fitness, and in 2012, sharing his story in his first book, Finding Ultra. 

Recently, it’s been spreading the message with his uplifting and thought-provoking podcast, and traveling the world giving talks about his story and the power of a plant-based lifestyle.

Today Rich’s new cookbook, The Plantpower Way, hits the shelves, and it’s my immense privilege to bring you a new interview, recipe, and giveaway from one of the most recognizable people in plant-based fitness.

The NMA Academy Seminar with Rich Roll

Just after we ran the 5K at the Marshall Healthfest last month, Rich and I sat down to record an hour-long, in-depth seminar for the No Meat Athlete Academy. Although these seminars are typically private for our members, I’m excited to make Part 1 of that interview available here, in celebration of the release of The Plantpower Way and the one-year anniversary of the NMA Academy:

In this portion, we focus on diet and Rich’s new book. In Part 2 of the interview, which you can get when you subscribe for free to NMA Radio on iTunes, we dive into Rich’s low-intensity training philosophy, his approach to mindfulness, and his now-famous advice that you should quit lifehacking and instead invest in the journey.

‘The Plantpower Way’ Giveaway and Recipe!

[plantpower way cover image]

In Rich’s first book, Finding Ultra, with his incredible story of transformation from unhealthy middle-aged guy to an Ultraman finisher recognized as one of the fittest men in the world, Rich piqued our collective interest: Finding Ultra brought inspiration in spades, and it left us dying to know the “how.”

No doubt, that’s a huge reason for the success of the weekly Rich Roll Podcast. But today, The Plantpower Way, the long-awaited followup to Finding Ultra, delivers what we’ve been waiting for: 120 recipes from Rich and his wife, Julie Piatt. And they’re recipes designed not for the professional athlete, but for families, to show everyone hat you — yes, you, with the family and the job and social life — can eat this way too.

I’ve had the privilege of checking out an advance copy of the book, and it’s stunning — sized almost like a coffee-table book, with full color photography throughout. The recipes capture a balance between superfood energy and an ease of preparation that has become essential in my house with two kids, now five and two years told. And three “paths” through the book — Lotus for vitality, Herbivore for performance, Phoenix for transformation — help readers navigate the abundance of recipes in a way that fits their particular goals.

I’m excited to dive into these recipes, and just as excited to offer up a copy, courtesy of Avery Books, for giveaway!. To enter, just leave a comment on this post and I’ll randomly choose a winner on Monday, May 6th and announce his or her name in the comments section. (The giveaway copy can be shipped within the U.S. only — like I said, this thing is gigantic!)

So enter the giveaway, enjoy the recipe below, or head over to Rich’s site and grab a copy of The Plantpower Way.

Ultra Energy Bars Recipe from ‘The Plantpower Way’

[ultra energy bars]

Reprinted from The Plantpower Way by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2015, Rich Roll & Julie Piatt.

Rich isn’t the only one who loves the supercharged vitality he experiences from eating these nutritious homemade bars – our kids devour them as a healthy alternative to processed store bought varieties. Power packed with healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds, coconut and dried berries that boast a plentitude of protein, healthy fats and fiber, these energy boosters will keep your engine revving all day long. Great for packing in your child’s lunchbox! Eat one of these bars and then, as Rich says, get it done.

Ingredients

• 1 cup raw almonds or walnuts, soaked overnight

• 1/4 cup cacao nibs

• 1/4 cup hemp seeds

• 1/4 cup dried goji berries

• 2 tablespoon cacao powder

• 1/4 cup coconut, shredded

• Pinch large coarse Celtic sea salt

• 7-8 dates, soaked and pitted

Preparation

1. In a food processor, pulse nuts until mealy in texture.

2. Now add the cacao nibs, hemp seeds, goji berries, cacao powder, shredded coconut and sea salt to the processor. Pulse again until ingredients are well-incorporated.

3. With the motor running, add one date at a time. After seven dates, you will see the mixture ball-up on one side of the bowl. You may need to redistribute the mixture and process it again to make sure the dates are mixed in.

4. On a piece of parchment paper, press the cookies in an even layer about 1/4” thick.

5. With a knife, score out a grid of rectangular shaped pieces approximately 2” x 3”. If desired, press additional hemp seeds or shredded coconut on the surface.

6. Wrap in parchment paper or parchment bags. Take them out on a trail run, hike or bike ride to sustain you throughout your training session!

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How to Eat for Maximum Energy (and Where to Find the Time to Do It) http://www.nomeatathlete.com/academy-anniversary/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/academy-anniversary/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 16:31:19 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24948 It’s been just over a year since we launched the No Meat Athlete Academy, where each month we dive into a new plant-based fitness, nutrition, or lifestyle topic — often with the help of a guest expert. In that time we’ve accumulated almost 16 hours of audio seminar content, plus another 20 hours of live

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academy-aniversaryIt’s been just over a year since we launched the No Meat Athlete Academy, where each month we dive into a new plant-based fitness, nutrition, or lifestyle topic — often with the help of a guest expert.

In that time we’ve accumulated almost 16 hours of audio seminar content, plus another 20 hours of live Q&A recordings, all of it available forever inside the Academy.

To celebrate the Academy’s birthday — and, okay okay, to whet your appetite in anticipation of a relaunch we’ll be doing soon — today I’m excited to share some clips from a few of my favorite seminars we’ve done over the course of the past year.

(Most recently, we welcomed plant-based superstar Rich Roll as our guest for an hour-long seminar and a followup Q&A. I’ve got some clips from that seminar coming soon, or you can get them now by subscribing to No Meat Athlete Radio on iTunes.)

We put these clips in the form of two NMA Radio episodes, each clocking in at 42 minutes. You can stream them right from the blog, or if you prefer, download them to your device.

Players and links are below — enjoy these interviews!

Episode 1: The Optimal Diet for Health and Energy?

In the first episode, you’ll hear in-depth clips from two of our early guests.

First, elite ultrarunner Michael Arnstein shares his enthusiasm for a diet based almost entirely on raw fruits and vegetables. A fruitarian diet sounds extreme, no doubt, but it’s hard not to be excited when you hear Mike talk about the dramatic improvements to his running he experienced when he switched from a cooked vegan diet to his current raw one.

(And before you write off an 80/10/10 diet — 80 carbohydrate, 10 percent fat, 10 percent protein — as pure craziness, you might be surprised to learn that in his most recent book, Whole, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the famed China Study, recommends exactly this ratio, though not completely raw.)

But let’s face it: most people aren’t going to eat this way, and many would argue that in the long term, a certain amount of cooked food (and more fat than 10 percent of calories) is both protective against disease and more realistic than a fully raw one. And that’s the focus of the next clip, with Sid Garza-Hillman, author and nutritionist at The Stanford Inn: a high-raw, whole-food diet that still includes plenty of cooked food and a little more wiggle room.

You can check out the clips from both Mike and Sid’s interviews in the first episode, called The Optimal Diet for Health and Energy, here:

Or download the episode here (you may need to right click and “Save link as”).

Episode 2: How to Create All the Time You Need

Understanding what to eat is one thing, but making it work in the real world is quite another.

In this second episode you’ll hear advice from Jeff Sanders, host of the popular 5AM Miracle podcast (and who happens also to be my weekly accountability partner), and Heather Crosby, author of Yum Universe, on building habits to create the time you need in order to make health a priority.

With Jeff, I discuss his “5AM Miracle” system for waking early (even if not at that ungodly hour) and blocking off time in your day that’s just for you — to work on something that brings you joy and energy, whether it’s running, cooking, or something entirely unrelated.

With Heather, we focus more specifically on food, diving into some time-saving kitchen tips and a general approach to kitchen management that will help you make healthy food a priority.

Click the button below to listen to these sections of my interviews with Jeff and Heather in this episode, called How to Create All the Time You Need:

Or download the episode here (you may need to right click and “Save link as”).

There’s more to come …

If this is the first you’ve listened to No Meat Athlete Radio and you like what you hear, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes. As you’ll hear just about every podcast host say (over and over), ratings and reviews on iTunes are extremely helpful in getting our show heard by new people, so please do me a favor and leave one while you’re there. Thanks!

And in a few days, I’ll be back with a sneak peek at our seminar with Rich Roll! Until then …

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What Supplements Do Vegan Athletes Need? http://www.nomeatathlete.com/supplements/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/supplements/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 18:00:57 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24928 Everyone, it seems, wants to know about supplements. After almost every talk I’ve given, someone in the Q&A has asked, “What supplements do you take?” After my talk at the Marshall Healthfest last month, someone asked it. Earlier that morning, in the athlete panel I did with Omowale Adewale, Rich Roll, Christy Morgan, and Ellen Jaffe Jones (in

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Everyone, it seems, wants to know about supplements. After almost every talk I’ve given, someone in the Q&A has asked, “What supplements do you take?”

After my talk at the Marshall Healthfest last month, someone asked it.

Earlier that morning, in the athlete panel I did with Omowale Adewale, Rich Roll, Christy Morgan, and Ellen Jaffe Jones (in the photo below), someone had asked it.

And when we did a Q&A with Rich earlier this week inside the NMA Academy (reopening soon, stay tuned!), someone asked it there, too.

[athlete panel]

The vegan athlete panel at Marshall Healthfest 2015.

The Answer?

The main reason I haven’t written a post about supplements until now is that I’ve never taken many, and was inconsistent even with the ones I did take.

But as I’ve learned more about the plant-based diet over the years, I’ve become more regimented in my routine, and come to give greater importance to the few supplements that I take. And as the question has come up more and more, I think it’s a time for a post about supplements, in far more depth than time allows in the Q&A after a talk.

So here’s what I do — and what I used to do, but stopped — when it comes to supplements.

But first, understand: Your needs certainly might be different from mine, so don’t assume that because I take (or don’t take) something, you need to do the same. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist or registered dietitian, so talk to a real one about supplementation. I merely hope this post gives you a place from which to start asking questions.

3 Supplements I Used to Take

1. Protein powder

A lot of people are surprised to hear that I don’t use protein powder anymore.

Protein powder is tricky. When so many people wonder “Where do you get your protein?“, it’s clearly an opportunity for someone to make money. And so vegan supplement companies promote it like crazy, which perpetuates the idea that if we don’t take a protein supplement, something awful will happen.

But when I was training for my 100-miler back in 2013, I happened to run out of protein powder. And, partly out of laziness, partly out of a growing skepticism, I didn’t buy more.

A week passed. Then a month. Then two months. I didn’t die.

Then I ran my 100-miler, and still didn’t die. It’s been almost two years since then, and I’m still alive and kicking!

I don’t fault the supplement companies for selling protein powder, when so many people clearly want it. Nor do I think it’s completely useless: If time constraints prevent you from eating a diet based on whole foods (which have all the protein you need), then protein powder is a fast and convenient way to get a little more.

It’s also useful as a psychological crutch. If you’re new to a vegetarian or vegan diet and your friends are telling you you’re being weird and reckless with your health, the reassurance that you’re “getting enough protein” just by adding a few scoops of powder to your smoothie is priceless.

And it’s possible that the optimal diet for certain strength sports, say, bodybuilding or mixed martial arts, consists of more protein than the 10-12 percent of total calories that a diet based on whole foods can offer. In those cases, protein powder is again useful.

If you’re going to use protein powder, I’ll offer one important suggestion: Stick with a minimally processed form, so that your protein powder is as close to a whole food as possible. No isolates — it turns out that protein isolates and even complete plant proteins (those containing all the essential amino acids, like soy protein isolate) are likely to raise levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), the hormone commonly cited as a primary link between animal protein and common cancers when its levels are too high in adults.

2. Flaxseed oil

Back in college when I was heavy into weightlifting and trying to bulk up, I started adding flaxseed oil (or Udo’s blend) to my smoothies and protein shakes. Mainly, this was to add calories and omega 3 fatty acids to my diet.

And it worked! As soon as I embraced dietary fats instead of avoiding them, my weight shot up, and a lot of it was muscle. Even after I was past this testosterone-filled phase of my young adult life, I kept the oil in my smoothie, thinking of it as a health food.

As I’ve moved towards a diet based more and more on whole foods — and oil is decidedly not a whole food — I no longer think of oil as a health food. More than simply not adding it to my smoothie anymore, I’ve recently removed it entirely from my everyday diet: at home, we no longer cook with olive or coconut oil, and instead simply use water for sauteing.

Why? It’s a topic for another post, but in short, the caloric density is unbelievably high compared to even the fattiest whole foods you’ll find in nature — oil contains 4,000 calories per pound, compared to around 100 calories for most vegetables. And if you’re concerned about protein, you can immediately do better by removing the single food in your diet that packs the largest number of calories per ounce, calories that are completely free of protein, making more room for the rest of the foods in your diet, those whole foods that do contain protein. The same goes for most micronutrients, too. (More about my decision to stop eating oil in the March 26, 2015 episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, here.)

I’m not anti-oil. Just like with protein powder, it has some targeted uses (not least of which, for me, is a gourmet restaurant meal now and then). If you’re looking to bulk up, sure, add oil to your diet for a little while. But as an everyday food for a typical person, I think it does more harm than good.

3. Creatine monohydrate

Creatine has always held a fascination for me, dating back to when I was a skinny kid and it was billed (by my friends) as a miracle supplement for bulking up.

When I used it in college, the results lived up to the hype. To this day, when I get too thin from running (not unhealthily thin; I just prefer not to look that way), I like to spend a few weeks in the gym putting some pounds back on, and when I do, I sometimes take creatine to help … and it certainly does.

I’ve seen interesting studies on other benefits of creatine, including a few that showed that when vegetarians take creatine, they get smarter. More about that here, too.

Since most of the creatine human beings get (beyond what our bodies make) comes from meat, is it possible that, like vitamin B12 (see below), vegetarians and vegan benefit by adding it back in the form of a daily supplement? I haven’t seen enough evidence to go that far, especially because the long-term effects of creatine supplementation still aren’t completely known.

Creatine is interesting to me, but I’ll wait for more research before I start using it on any sort of consistent basis.

The Only 2 Supplements I Take Now

1. Multivitamin, including vitamin B12

To me, vitamin B12 is a no-brainer. If you’re vegan, take B12. You can read more about why in this post.

But you can find standalone B12 supplements, apart from an entire multivitamin. So why the multi?

I’m all for whole foods, and with a wide variety I think you can usually get most of what you need. But as a safeguard, I like to take a multivitamin. Aside from the fact that the poor quality of modern soil and other modern agricultural practices make the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables lower than those we evolved to eat, there are several nutrients that are commonly deficient in 100% plant-based diets:

  • B12
  • Zinc
  • Iodine
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 3 fatty acids

(These are according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Super Immunity, one of my favorite books to recommend as a relatively easy-reading introduction to whole food, plant-based nutrition.)

I should point out that mega-doses can be dangerous. Even vitamins which were long thought to be safe in high doses have turned out not to be; as an example look at vitamin A, which has been linked in large doses to cancer.

The multivitamin I take is (not coincidentally) from Dr. Fuhrman, and it contains all of these except omega 3’s, which are in the other daily supplement I take. The multivitamin contains other vitamins and minerals as well, from quality sources and in relatively small doses — both of these are so important, to limit the chance that your multivitamin does more harm than good.

2. DHA/EPA (Omega 3’s)

My understanding of omega 3’s is that they comprise three types of fatty acid: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

People are commonly deficient in all of these, but ALA is easy to get in walnuts, seeds (hemp, flax, chia), and leafy greens. This, plus the general link between nuts and longevity, is the reason I add most of these to my smoothie each morning.

But DHA and EPA are harder to find in plant foods. And it turns out that although some people’s bodies are able to convert ALA into DHA and EPA in sufficient amounts, others cannot.

For this reason, I add a small amount of DHA/EPA supplement (vegan, derived from algae) to my smoothie each morning. Apparently, a blood test can determine whether your body is capable of converting enough ALA into DHA and EPA, but I haven’t done this test so I take it (and give it to my kids, as well) to be safe.

You can find links to these supplements (and other products I use) on the Gear page.

Supp’, dog?

So there you have it. But for all I’ve learned about supplements over the years, the biggest lesson is that they generate a lot of discussion (and often, disagreement)!

The comments section is the place for that, as long as it’s friendly and productive. Let me know what you agree with and what you don’t, and what supplements you take (or don’t!), so we can all learn something from the discussion.

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Discover the Secrets of the Tarahumara: Stream the New Film GOSHEN in Its Entirety, This Week Only http://www.nomeatathlete.com/goshen/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/goshen/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:36:47 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24876 It was six years ago that Chris McDougall sparked a revolution in running with Born to Run, the book that made seemingly everyone want to run an ultramarathon, do it barefoot, and eat pinole and chia seeds all the while. (Or was that just me?) These behaviors, of course, are those of the Tarahumara, an indigenous

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It was six years ago that Chris McDougall sparked a revolution in running with Born to Run, the book that made seemingly everyone want to run an ultramarathon, do it barefoot, and eat pinole and chia seeds all the while. (Or was that just me?)

These behaviors, of course, are those of the Tarahumara, an indigenous Mexican tribe of incredible endurance runners whose way of life has been largely preserved by the geography of the Copper Canyon region.

That way of life, including the extreme lack of modern diseases that plague most developed cultures, is the subject of the new film GOSHEN: Places of Refuge for the Running People. And for the rest of the week, I’m thrilled to be able to offer it for streaming in its entirety here at No Meat Athlete. (April 11th is when the free streaming ends, so watch it before then!)

[Update: Since the free-streaming period has ended, I’ve replaced the embedded video with the trailer for GOSHEN.]

 

One message that Born to Run didn’t quite hammer home is that the Tarahumara eat a diet that is largely plant-based, with only small amounts of meat punctuating traditional meals of las tres hermanas, beans, corn, and squash.

And as we all know, it’s not just the Tarahumara who exemplify that when it comes to fitness, this diet works: as Chris McDougall says in GOSHEN, “When you start to look at super-performing endurance athletes throughout history, more often than not they’re vegetarians.”

It’s my immense pleasure to have been a part of this wonderful film, talking about my own experience of becoming a stronger runner when I became vegetarian (and eventually vegan). While my big-screen debut is only a few seconds long (beginning in minute 22), Born to Run author Chris McDougall, Tarahumara athlete Arnulfo Quimare, ultrarunner Will Harlan, and many other nutrition, health, and fitness experts are featured prominently throughout the film.

I find the Tarahumara culture and diet fascinating, and I think you will too. Enjoy the film, and visit the GOSHEN website to find out more or purchase the DVD.

And of course, feel free to share this opportunity to stream the entire film through April 11th!

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Vegan Ironman Gene Baur on His New Book, ‘Living the Farm Sanctuary Life’ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-63/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-63/#respond Fri, 03 Apr 2015 12:39:55 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24822 It’s hard not to be a Gene Baur fan. Most will know him as the co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, author, and speaker, but unless you follow Gene closely, you might not realize that as a BQ-marathoner and Ironman, he embodies what NMA is all about. Gene’s beautiful new vegan-lifestyle-guide-meets-cookbook, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, hits

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gene

It’s hard not to be a Gene Baur fan. Most will know him as the co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, author, and speaker, but unless you follow Gene closely, you might not realize that as a BQ-marathoner and Ironman, he embodies what NMA is all about.

Gene’s beautiful new vegan-lifestyle-guide-meets-cookbook, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, hits the shelves next week. In this interview on No Meat Athlete Radio we discuss Gene’s athletic accomplishments, whether eating a plant-based diet can help us live longer, the small steps approach to change, and the theme of mindfulness that runs throughout the new book.

It’s also my pleasure to share a recipe from the new book: Tacos with Salted Grilled Plantains, Salsa Verde, and Pepitas! And — gigantic bonus alert — it features homemade corn tortillas, which just this week I’ve started making (and become mildly obsessed about). You’ll find the recipe at the end of this post below the interview.

Enjoy the interview, and don’t miss Gene’s appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on April 6th!

Click the button below to listen now:

Download audio file (nmaradio63.mp3)

Or:

Tacos with Salted Grilled Plantains, Salsa Verde, and Pepitas

Plantain tacos

From Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, by Gene Baur. Recipe courtesy of Jason Wyrick, executive chef of The Vegan Taste and author of Vegan Tacos.

Says Jason: “If the tortilla is the soul of a taco, then the filling is the body, and fresh lime and spicy salsa are the life of it. It’s the fusion of all three of these components that makes tacos the perfect handheld meal. Because the traditional tortilla for a taco is only about 51⁄2″ in diameter, one serving is usually two or three tacos—or four if you’re hungry!”

Makes 12 tacos

Time to Make: 25 to 35 minutes

2 cups fresh masa (corn dough for making tortillas) or 12 small premade corn tortillas

2 medium semi-ripe plantains, peeled

1 tablespoon garlic-infused oil

Grated peel and juice of

2 limes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ancho chile powder

11⁄2 cups salsa verde

3⁄4 cup toasted pepitas

2 cups shredded red cabbage

 

Heat a grill, preferably using mesquite wood. If using a gas grill, bring to medium heat and add soaked mesquite chips in the smoking box.

While the grill is coming to temperature, make the tortillas. Bring a griddle or comal to medium heat. Lay plastic wrap over the bottom flap of your tortilla press.

Take 2 to 21⁄2 tablespoons of the masa and form it into a ball. Lay this on the plastic wrap, just slightly off center toward the hinges of the press. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap at least the size of the tortilla press flap over the masa ball. Press down firmly until the masa is flat and you have a tortilla ready to be cooked. This takes a little practice, so if your first few tortillas don’t turn out right, simply re-form the dough into a ball and press it again. Make as many uncooked tortillas as your griddle can handle before laying them on the hot griddle. Typically this will be 2 to 4 tortillas. Make sure to press each tortilla in its own plastic wrap and keep them in the wrap until you are ready to lay them on the griddle.

Remove the top layer of the plastic sheet. Flip the tortilla over and remove the other layer. Gently lay it on your griddle. Cook the first side for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until you see the edges of the tortilla change color.

Flip the tortilla over and cook for 1 minute. Flip it back over one more time and cook it for another 30 seconds. Remove the tortillas from the heat, stacking them and keeping them covered so they don’t dry out.

Brush the plantains with the oil. Grill them until they are heavily browned on both sides. Remove them from the grill and chop into bite-size pieces.

Immediately toss them with the lime peel and juice and then the salt and chile powder.

To each tortilla, add the plantains, 2 tablespoons of the salsa verde, 1 tablespoon of the pepitas, and the cabbage.

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Sleep Matters: 7 Ideas for Doing It Better http://www.nomeatathlete.com/sleep/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/sleep/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:49:19 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24829 This post is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute, the third in a series of six I’m doing in partnership with them this year. Back when I was in college, I used to hear the joke that of good grades, sleep, and a social life, you could have whichever two you chose … but only

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bedding sheets and pillow sleep bedThis post is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute, the third in a series of six I’m doing in partnership with them this year.

Back when I was in college, I used to hear the joke that of good grades, sleep, and a social life, you could have whichever two you chose … but only two.

Replace “good grades” with a job, and you’ve got a pretty accurate description of the real, grown-up world, for most people. And when “social life” now includes mostly non-negotiable activities like spending time with your kids, exercising, and taking the time to prepare healthy food for yourself and your family, skimping on those eight hours of sleep we’re supposed to get each night starts to become a pretty attractive option.

It’s not news that as a culture, we’re sleep deprived. Starbucks wouldn’t be a $15-billion/year company if we all woke up smiling and chipper every morning. (Check out this week’s issue of Brian Clark’s Further, my favorite weekly email digest about “health, wealth and wisdom,” for loads of compelling reasons to get your z’s.)

And if you’re an athlete …

… then sleep matters even more. In his ultrarunning talk from the Woodstock Fruit Festival (starting around the 18:00 mark), Michael Arnstein says that how much sleep he gets the night before a 100-miler is one of the most important factors in how he’ll perform — he even goes as far as to wear a blindfold, earplugs, and a hat to bed; sleep in isolation; and several days before the race, start hitting the sack in the early evening so that he’ll get used to the early bedtime and be able to log eight to ten hours before waking up at 4am on race day.

It’s not just performance, though — sleep is essential for optimal recovery, too. Ask any bodybuilder who has succeeded in adding lots of muscle to their frame, and he’ll tell you that sleep is right up there with lifting and eating. (Well, for natural bodybuilders at least.) And for vegan or vegetarian athletes concerned about protein — I don’t think you need to be, but still — during sleep your body’s cells synthesize proteins and lessen the rate of protein breakdown.

Ok, so I’ve made the point: sleep matters. And it’s not just quantity, but quality.

The way to get more sleep is simple: make it a priority and go to bed earlier. Of course, this probably means sacrificing some of that broad category I’ve called “social life” … and if you just can’t do that, you can at least work on sleeping better.

Here are 7 ideas to help you do just that:

  1. Determine which type of sleeper you are, and get the right pillow for that position. On your back is best, on your stomach is worst, and on your side is okay. I’ve personally had a few problems due in part to sleeping on my stomach with my arms above my head, including headaches (referred from neck tightness) and shoulder pain, so I’ve recently switched to sleeping on my back and am gradually adjusting.
  2. Don’t drink alcohol close to bedtime. This is a biggie. Alcohol can ruin the restfulness of your sleep, even when it feels like you’re sleeping soundly through the night. Give your body at least one hour per drink (preferably more) to process any alcohol you drink in the evening before bed.
  3. Instead, drink tart cherry juice. In one study, adults who drank two daily glasses of tart cherry juice concentrate for seven days slept about 40 minutes longer and 6 percent more efficiently than those who did not. Other studies have shown tart cherry juice to reduce the severity of insomnia, including an almost 90-minute increase in older insomniacs after just two weeks of twice-daily tart cherry juice. Most of the research on tart cherry juice has been based on one ounce of concentrate or eight ounces of juice, twice per day. I get mine by adding the concentrate to my smoothie in the morning, then having a glass post-workout, usually in the afternoon. See my first post about tart cherry juice and subsequent results for more details.
  4. Have some almond butter before bed. In the 4-Hour Body, biohacker Tim Ferriss says that in his own experiments, two tablespoons of raw almond butter on celery sticks before bed helped him feel noticeably more rested upon waking.
  5. Establish a bedtime routine. My friend Jeff Sanders of the 5AM Miracle podcast sets an alarm to go off one hour before his ideal bedtime, at which point he shifts into an evening routine designed to turn off his brain and prepare for sleep. A good pre-bedtime routine might include comfortable clothes, meditation, and reading fiction (which for most people is less likely than non-fiction to stimulate planning-type thoughts that will keep you awake). Personally, I find that listening to an audiobook, which just like meditation requires focus, usually puts me right to sleep when my mind is racing.
  6. Reduce the amount of light in your bedroom. A few years ago I realized that my wife and I had no fewer than six forms of electronic light in our room while we slept (digital clocks, cell phone charge indicators, modem and wireless router, etc.), and eliminating every last one of them has helped to create a far more pleasant environment for shuteye.
  7. Use your bedroom for two things only: sleep and making babies. If you haven’t done it yet and if you change nothing else about your bedroom environment, do yourself and your partner the favor of giving the TV the boot. Completely aside from what it did for our sleep habits, limiting television time to the living room was our first step in eventually watching so little that we cut cable altogether.

Sweet dreams!

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The Step-by-Step Guide to Finally Making a Plant-Based Diet Last http://www.nomeatathlete.com/make-it-stick/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/make-it-stick/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:18:30 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24794 This is a guest post by Luke Jones, a plant-based blogger at Health Room. I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for a few years now, and that change was the catalyst for a whole load of other positive changes in my life which have made me a healthier, happier human being. Eating this way is now second

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farm fresh vegetablesThis is a guest post by Luke Jones, a plant-based blogger at Health Room.

I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for a few years now, and that change was the catalyst for a whole load of other positive changes in my life which have made me a healthier, happier human being.

Eating this way is now second nature, but it didn’t come easy at first. More than once, I nearly gave in to temptations and went back to my old habits.

I’m not alone in this regard: adopting a plant-based diet and making it last is easier said than done.

If you don’t currently eat a plant-based diet, it’s likely you’ve tried in the past, only to fall short and end up back where you started, feeling like you’ll never have the willpower to bring about lasting changes.

In that case, I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret. Here it is:

Changing your diet and maintaining it isn’t about willpower. Instead, it’s about taking the right approach.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have been through the diet struggle and come out the other side a fully fledged herbivore. And I learned a few things along the way.

Maybe you’re completely new to plant-based eating. Or maybe you’re a veteran vegan. Regardless of where you are in your nutrition journey, today I’d like to share with you some tools that will help make your plant-based diet lasting and sustainable.

Each tip is broken down into action steps that you can apply to your life right now. Don’t overload yourself by taking them on all at once, but over time, the more steps you take, the more likely it is you’ll succeed.

Let’s get to it.

Step 1. Why do you want to eat plant-based?

There are an endless number of nutrition doctrines out there, so why is a plant-based diet the best choice for you right now?

It’s a big lifestyle change, and inevitably your old habits will to try to creep back in from time to time. If the going gets tough, it’s that big reason “why” that will keep you from caving in.

Your action steps:

-Determine your personal reasons “why.”

Some of the most popular reasons for eating a plant-based diet include:

  • Being healthier
  • Losing weight
  • Concern for animals
  • Reducing your environmental impact

All are great, so figure out which one really excites you. Don’t do this just because Beyoncé is doing it, or because your spouse said so.

Your motives will likely evolve over time. I began eating this way for entirely selfish reasons, but as time has passed, the bigger picture has become more important to me.
-Write it down.
Write down your reason “why” (really do it!) and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. You could put a note on your fridge, or a daily alert on your phone. Whatever works for you. Anytime you feel like you might stray from the plants, take a look at your motivation, and get back on track.

Step 2. Think big, but start small.

It’s great to have the big end goal of eating a fully plant-based diet to get excited about, but don’t feel pressured to get there right away. Instead, embrace the journey, and respect that it’s gonna take some work.

While some people can make the switch straight off, that’s not most of us. By all means give it a try, but if it doesn’t work, shift to Plan B and try the smaller steps.

As Matt says: the more gradual the process, the more likely you are to succeed in the long term.

Your action steps:

-Work backwards from your end goal.

There are a load of different ways to tackle the transition to a plant-based diet. A tried and tested route is to gradually eliminate certain foods, while upping your intake of plants.

You could start by cutting out four-legged animals, then two-legged, followed by seafood, dairy and processed foods. Establish these milestones, but don’t be too concerned with a time frame.

-Get specific.

Once you have your ultimate goal in mind and a set of intermediate points to get you there, break the milestones down into specific action steps, like in the diagram below.

If you’re a complete beginner, you could start by having four-legged animals just once a week, instead of twice. This might seem trivial, but it’s better to err on the side of caution, at least early on. Failing too soon can really knock your self confidence.

If you do relapse, embrace it as a lesson, and use it as an opportunity to make your goal a little easier. Then get back on track.

Plant Based Transition

-Build slowly.

After a month or so, if you’re comfortable eating four-legged animals only once a week, bring it down to twice monthly, followed by monthly, and eventually cut it out altogether. Then repeat the same process with the other foods.

Patience is key. It’s easy to get carried away and attempt to make several big changes once you’ve had success with a few small ones. It may take a while to reach your end goal, but moving slowly gives your taste buds a chance to adjust, lessening the shock of any one change.

Step 3. Create a healthy food environment.

Obstacles will inevitably pop up on your plant-based journey. To increase your chances of beating them, it helps to be ready to respond, rather than react. This involves preparing your environment, so you’re as well equipped as you can be.

Your action steps:

-Know your safe havens.

If you’re hungry while out and about, it helps to know where the nearest plant-friendly restaurants and shops are. Scope out your local area using Happy Cow, and form a list of go-to places.

-Use “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Remove any unwanted foods from your cupboards, and replace them with plant-based alternatives. You could also make a rule to stay away from certain aisles in the supermarket, or areas of the mall where the fast food joints are.

-Plan ahead.

Scheduling your meals and snacks for the week can help reduce waste and save money. For bonus points, you could batch cook meals on the weekend and freeze your leftovers. That way you’ve always got a backup, which should deter you from reaching for the takeout menu after a long day.

Step 4. Eat simply, but aim for variety.

When you first start out with a plant-based diet, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia. I remember spending ages searching for expensive ingredients, and obsessing over my micronutrient intake.

While these things can sometimes be fun, often they’re a form of procrastination, detracting us from our original aim.

If your diet seems too complicated (or too boring), it’s unlikely you’ll stick to it long term, so it’s important to strike the balance between simplicity and experimentation.

Your action steps:

-Think whole foods.

If you eat a wide range of colorful, whole, plant foods, you should meet all your nutritional needs. Just keep it simple with fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. It needn’t be more complicated if you don’t want it to be.

I’m not a huge advocate of supplements, but if you do make the plunge to going fully vegan, it’s important to take vitamin B12 so you don’t become deficient.

-Adapt your favorites.

It can be daunting, thinking you have to get rid of all your favorite meals and start from scratch. Thankfully with a little tweaking, most traditional recipes can be adapted to plant-based alternatives.

Beans and lentils make great meat substitutes, and there are loads of plant-based milk options available these days.

Some people get caught up on using fake meats and cheeses. While they can be a good transition foods, they should probably be phased out eventually. Essentially, you’re just replacing animal products with processed foods, which isn’t really going to benefit you long term.

-Experiment.

If things start getting stale, try a new recipe once a week. It doesn’t have to be overly fancy, but some people find that mixing it up helps to keep things interesting.

There are some great tasting recipes here at No Meat Athlete, and plenty of awesome cookbooks around too.

The more you practice preparing your own meals, the more you’ll begin to enjoy the process. Before you know it, you’ll have a long list of favorite plant-based meals and snacks to pick from.

Step 5. Form your plant-powered crew.

On my first attempt at eating a plant-based diet, I tried to do it solo, and it wasn’t all that fun. I had no idea what I was doing, and I felt pretty alienated.

Second time around, I built a support network and involved others on my journey, and things became way easier.

Your action steps:

-Connect with like-minded people.

Surround yourself with people who will support you. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find groups in your local area to meet up with. At the very least, these communities make you feel like you’re not alone.

The internet is also great for connecting with other plant-based folks. Join your local No Meat Athlete running group, or get involved with the Veggie Boards Forum or the Plant-Based Diet Subreddit, where you can exchange ideas and information with people in the know.

-Talk to your loved ones.

Discuss your new diet with your family and friends, and share with them your reasons ‘why’. Make it clear that they don’t have to change with you, but that you would really appreciate their support.

If you regularly cook with omnivorous friends or family, animal products can easily be added at the end of most plant-based recipes. From my experience, a compromise can usually be met without your having to abandon your morals.

-Ask for help.

For an added incentive, ask someone close to hold you accountable over your next few steps. If you achieve your weekly goal, celebrate your small victories with external rewards, like watching that new movie you haven’t made time for yet.

Some strange people respond better to the stick than the carrot, and instead like to set consequences for failure. If that works for you, go for it.

Step 6. Remember that food isn’t everything.

Whatever your reason for adopting a plant-based diet, changing the way you eat probably isn’t the only thing that’s going to influence it. So many other habits can impact your health, your fitness, or the size of your carbon footprint.

It’s easy to obsess over diet as the one key to success, but it doesn’t count for much if you don’t consider the other pieces of the puzzle.

Your action steps:

-Introduce supporting habits.

Some habits go hand in hand with eating a plant-based diet. Take exercise as an example. If you begin to work out regularly, you may start to crave healthy food to refuel your body.

Meditation is another good one. You might find that practicing regularly makes you more mindful of your food choices, and spurs you on to take your diet further.

What’s more, if you’re someone who easily gets sucked into the complexity of nutrition, supporting habits can sometimes help take the focus off the food a little, which might stop you from over thinking things and burning out.

Just remember to start slow, and not overload yourself with a bunch of difficult changes straight off.

-Use service.

How can you use your experience to help others? Maybe it means being a good example to your peers and family. Perhaps it’s creating a blog, or starting a podcast.

Do what you can to pass the message on, and keep the movement going. If you’re fully committed to a cause that’s bigger than you, you’re much less likely to back out.

Time to take action!

I’ve tried my best to make this guide as applicable to real life as possible … now it’s up to you to make the change happen.

If you really want that plant based diet of yours to last, take the tools shared above and apply them to your life. Because ideas alone don’t bring about lasting changes –putting them into practice is what counts.

Regardless of how many times you’ve failed in the past, there’s always a new opportunity to start over and try again from a slightly different angle. Often it’s just one small adjustment that means the difference between failing and succeeding. Hopefully you’ve found that small thing somewhere in this post.

So what are you waiting for?

It’s time to gain control over your eating habits, and take that first step towards becoming a plant-powered hero.

Where do you most struggle with regards to making your plant-based diet last? Share with us in the comments below and we’ll try to help you out.

About the Author: Luke Jones is a plant-based blogger at Health Room, where he explores and share ideas in nutrition, movement, mindfulness and sustainability. For more articles and a free copy of his healthy habits starter guide, check out his site at herohealthroom.com

The post The Step-by-Step Guide to Finally Making a Plant-Based Diet Last appeared first on No Meat Athlete.

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Check in from the Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise! http://www.nomeatathlete.com/cruise-update/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/cruise-update/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 19:55:25 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24767 Sadly, today is our last full day on the weeklong Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise. And while that’s a shame, I’ll be leaving with a distinctly different feeling than I’ve ever had at the end of other cruises I’ve been on — namely, a renewed sense of enthusiasm for this diet and lifestyle. Oh,

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Sadly, today is our last full day on the weeklong Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise.

And while that’s a shame, I’ll be leaving with a distinctly different feeling than I’ve ever had at the end of other cruises I’ve been on — namely, a renewed sense of enthusiasm for this diet and lifestyle.

Oh, I’ve been motivated to eat and live better by cruises in the past — but that motivation is always of the rock-bottom, “I can’t believe I ate and drank that much” variety. This time, it’s an inspired, enlightened motivation, owing to dozens of talks and classes from amazing lineup of speakers, and a menu much lower in oil than what we usually eat at home. Not to mention being surrounded by 1800 other people as passionate about all of this as I am.

Don’t get me wrong; we’ve done plenty of “normal” cruise stuff this week too. The massages (hot stones!), the beaches, the pina coladas, the gambling, the devouring of all five courses at dinner when three would have done just fine.

But all that has been balanced by the packed schedule of health content on the ship: my wife and I have attended talks by T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Michael Greger, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Robert Cheeke, and Chef AJ, to name just a very few. We’ve gone to yoga, pilates, meditation, and Qi Gong classes most every day, and still found time to relax and just be.

And none of this is to speak of what we’ve done off the boat — finding an off-the-beaten-path vegan Rastafarian restaurant in Jamaica that served just one dish, relaxing at a beach in the Cayman Islands with water so clear you could see your feet at any depth, and renting scooters in Cozumel to go to another secluded beach. Today, we’re in the Bahamas, and tomorrow we’ll round out the trip with the NMA Miami running group for a few meals and a run before heading back to Asheville.

And when I get back, I’ll have some changes to make. New books to read. Blog posts to write. Podcasts to record. And lots of thinking to do. This cruise has been exactly the refresher I needed, and I hope I succeed in capturing some of that here over the next few weeks.

Longer recap coming when I get back!

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