How I Survived for 8 Weeks as a Paleo Vegetarian (and Lost 19 Pounds)

Post written by Susan Lacke.

I’m never one to back down from a challenge. If you tell me I “can’t” do something, you’ve guaranteed I’ll set out to do it.

So when my buddy Joel Runyon bragged about a new diet plan of his, I was intrigued and wanted to give it a shot for myself.

“Aww, that’s cute,” Joel smirked, “but you can’t do it.”

“Why?” I retorted.

“It’s based on the principles of a paleo diet plan. You couldn’t do it. You’re one of THOSE people. You know…” Joel leaned in and whispered, like a parent saying a dirty word in a preschool, “vegetarian.”

“Eff you, Runyon. It’s possible for the paleo diet to be adapted to the vegetarian lifestyle.”

“Prove it.”

“Fine. I will.”

The principles of paleo

If you’re unfamiliar with the paleo diet, it’s a diet that encourages “eating like a caveman.” In other words, only foods that our ancestors would have hunted or gathered. It’s what we’re “meant” to eat, say proponents, and for many, that idea translates to the notion that we’re “meant” to eat meat — lots of it.

A quick search for “vegetarian paleo” doesn’t yield much of use, other than Matt’s long post about three ways to make it work. In fact, an overwhelming majority of sources said it’d be almost impossible to sustain a paleo-vegetarian lifestyle. Some even claimed that, like our cavemen ancestors, a person would die of nutritional deficiencies if they didn’t get their hands on animal protein.

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How to Make Simple Vegan Pizza from Scratch (Plus a Big Announcement!)

For four straight days, my kitchen has been completely destroyed at the end of the day.

Food processor, Blendtec, Dutch oven, and every pot and pan we own completely filthy. The sink piled so high we started calling it Mount Dishmore.

And right now, every time you turn on the front left burner of our stove, it fills the house with toxic plastic fumes, thanks to my accidentally setting a Ziplock bag on it while it was hot.

The above can only be the result of an insane amount of recipe-testing, which is, of course, what my big announcement is all about: I signed a contract with a publisher to write the first No Meat Athlete print book!

I can’t share too many details yet (and likely won’t have many until spring), but of course it’s about the same topics No Meat Athlete is about, and with lots of recipes. Hence the kitchen that every night looks like a mad scientist’s laboratory that has been carpet-bombed.

Anyway, much more news on the book to come. Now, to the fruit of my labor …

Vegan pizza!

For several years, my dad and I have been on a quest to make the perfect homemade brick oven pizza — without a brick oven.

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How to Stay Motivated While You’re Injured

There’s nothing fun about injuries in any sport, but there’s one thing about running and other endurance sports injuries that makes them particularly devilish.

They generally happen when you’re the most excited about your training.

The reason why is pretty obvious — running injuries don’t usually happen suddenly, say, when another runner tackles you or punches you in the forehead.

You might slip or fall or roll an ankle every now and then, but most often, the injuries that sideline runners and endurance athletes are the result of overuse. We get big ideas about an upcoming race, or we fall in love all over again with running — and when we do, we run more.

More miles. Faster pace. More speedwork. We start running on our off days, or cross-training at the very least. It’s all going so great …

Until one day it isn’t. Something hurts, and gets worse. You have to stop altogether.

And then you go crazy.

Almost all of us have been there. And while there’s no one solution other than patience, there are things you can do to temper the frustration and disappointment and stay motivated until you can get back out there.

In this episode of NMA radio, Doug and I answer a few questions from Facebook and then talk to Mike Wardian, an elite vegetarian marathoner and ultrarunner who most recently won this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon in DC, placed third at the 135-mile Badwater ultramarathon in 2011, and currently happens to be sidelined with an injury of his own.

Here’s how this month’s episode shakes out:

  • How do you stay positive when you’re not at 100%? (2:40)
  • When do you know to get back to training after an injury? (7:25)
  • How do you maintain fitness while you’re recovering? (9:40)
  • What’s the best way to start back up once you’re cleared to run again? (12:10)
  • Mike Wardian interview starts (17:40)
  • Doug and Matt wrap it up (50:40)
  • Beer or wine at Thanksgiving dinner table? (53:15)

Click the button below to listen now:


Links from the show:

Our phone number where you can call in to submit your question for next episode: 707-786-3429

Big thanks to Mike Wardian for taking the time to hang out with us!



How to Create Healthy Habits: An Interview with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

“The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand, add to it another filament, until it becomes a great cable and binds us irrevocably, thought and act.”

-Orison Swett Marden

By far, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned this entire year is that habit change is a skill. Learn the skill, and you take control of your actions and life.

Fail to understand your habits, though, and you’re a creature of circumstance — controlled by distractions and a slave to the whims of the present moment. I’ve had plenty of experience with this situation, as most people have. But the important thing to know is that you can learn to change.

You can get a sense of the excitement I felt upon discovering this and putting it into action in my post from the summer called How I’ve Begun Changing My Life, One Habit a Time.

I have Leo Babauta to thank for introducing me to the power of habits, and teaching me to take charge of my own. As most of the internet knows, Leo writes the blog Zen Habits, and I’m grateful today to have the chance to share this interview I did with him earlier this week.

I hope you enjoy it, but more importantly, I hope you use it.

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How I Do Thanksgiving as a Vegan

A lot of things seem like a big deal before you’re vegetarian or vegan. For me, as a Marylander, it was crab feasts — that was the one thing, I said, I’d never give up, even after I was mostly vegetarian.

But then one day the idea of eating crabs just stopped appealing to me, and after that I found it easy to drink a beer or two and, enjoy the company, and just skip the crabs.

Thanksgiving has been a lot like that for me. My first vegetarian Thanksgiving occurred eight months after I stopped eating meat, so by then the turkey just wasn’t that interesting. Since then, Thanksgiving hasn’t been nearly the big issue it seemed before I was vegetarian.

And yet, “What do you do on Thanksgiving if you don’t eat meat?” is one of the more common questions people ask me. Almost as common is, “Do you have any advice for a first vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving?”, so I figured I’d write a post about how I handle this holiday that’s based so much on (traditionally not-even-close-to-vegan) food.

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