The Social Challenges of Eating Plant-Based (and How to Deal with Them)

NMA Radio co-host Doug recently attended a bachelor party, where while discussing meals for the weekend, it became clear that one of the guys wasn’t comfortable with Doug’s being a vegan.

We’re all having meat. What are you going to eat, Doug? Carrots?

We’ve all been in this situations like this. It’s that moment at a restaurant, party, or dinner when all of a sudden people realize you’re vegan or vegetarian, and don’t know how to react. Before you can even say a word, someone gets defensive or pokes fun of your diet.

So what do you do? Usually, we react in one of two ways. Either:

  1. You use it as an opportunity to make a point, defend your diet choice, and maybe even convince a few people, or
  2. You brush it off and keep the mood light, in an attempt to make veganism appear as normal as possible.

I’m not saying either of these better than the other; I respect both choices. But I know the one that I choose, almost every single time.

In today’s episode, we discuss these two approaches, and how Doug and I handle the uncomfortable situations at parties, with family, and while out to dinner. We also share the rest of Doug’s story, and how by the end of the weekend, he got that same guy to take interest in the vegan diet.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Why your diet makes others uncomfortable
  • Matching a joke with a joke to defuse an uncomfortable situation
  • Is eating cheese worse than wasting cheese?
  • Why Doug ate a non-vegan dish at a family breakfast … and why he thinks this was the right choice

Click the button below to listen now:


If you’re a fan of NMA Radio (and you like all these new episodes we’re making!), we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

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A New Method for Creating Changes that Last

When it comes to the best way to create a new habit, there’s a great schism in the personal development world.

One classic approach is massive action. You go all-in, all at once, and you hope that by sheer force, lots of willpower, and a huge initial surge of motivation, you’ll be able to make your change last.

The other way is the small steps method. Here, you begin with the smallest possible step in the right direction, so small that you can’t possibly put it off for later. Then you repeat it each day, gradually taking on just a little more, and eventually, your change becomes a habit.

The big question, of course, is “Which works better?”

Most people say it depends on the person. That some people change better when they take massive action, and that others need to take it slow.

But I’ve never quite been comfortable with that, because I see both types of people in me — and in just about anyone I’ve talked to about habit change, too.

And after years of messing around with the two approaches, I’ve come up with a method of change that uses both. And it works. In fact, when I look back at just about every significant change I’ve made successfully, I’ve used this method … even before I realized that’s what I was doing.

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Which Type of Runner are You?

The Old-Timer. The Selfie Runner. The Kicker.

We’ve all seen these runners and thought to ourselves, “I’ll never be that guy.” I hate to break it to you, but you might be that guy. Or girl. Or one of the nearly 20 other runner types we discuss in today’s podcast.

The inspiration for this episode comes from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book, and his “14 Types of Runners” list. The funny, lighthearted list takes a good-natured jab at just about every single one of us (so if you can’t laugh at yourself, then this episode isn’t for you). Doug and I decided to share that list, plus a few of our own, in an attempt to laugh at ourselves and have a little fun with a sport we usually take so seriously.

Doug admits that he’s the “Ultra Guy,” and as much as I wish it weren’t true, I admit that I’ve been at least 5 types of runner over the past few years.

So … which type are you?

Click the button below to listen now:

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5 Food Trends that Fascinate Me

Fresh salad bowl

This post is the fifth in a series of six that I’m doing in a sponsor partnership with the Cherry Marketing Institute. As always, words and opinions are mine.

“Put butter in your coffee; it’ll give you more energy and it’s better for you.”

“Eat low-carb, mostly fat … it’ll help you run longer.”

And my favorite: “Stop eating food, just drink Soylent!”

When I think of food trends, this is what I think of. Internet sensations that flare up and often fizzle out just as quickly.

(Actually, I’m not being fair to the three I listed to start this post. There’s some actual science behind the first two, and even if I don’t personally do them, it’s clear they’re working for some people. Number 3, though, is just dumb.)

We all like to laugh at food trends, to pretend we’re experts as we look back at the silly things we used to do (or that people in other camps do now). But some of what we now call trends will endure, and eventually we won’t think of them as trends at all. That’s how change happens.

So which ones are legit? That’s the big question, and your guess is as good as mine.

All of that said, here are five trends I’m betting my health on.

An admission: call me spineless, but I have trouble diving headlong into almost any new diet, preferring to experiment and then tweak to my liking. You’ll see that most of the trends I list here come with an explanation of where I’m not fully buying in, and what I’m doing to moderate.

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Chef AJ and Calorie Density: The Secret to Losing Weight?


A few weeks ago I published an interview with my wife, Erin, about her recent success losing 18 pounds in just a few months, with the help of Chef AJ’s weight loss program. That episode was the most downloaded release in No Meat Athlete Radio history, and the feedback and questions about the program have come in ever since.

So to help answer those questions, and dive deeper into the philosophies behind AJ’s approach to healthy weight loss, I asked Chef AJ herself to join me for an interview.

During this episode you hear Chef AJ’s fiery, funny, former-standup-comic personality as we discuss what it means to eat “left of the red line,” why eliminating oil isn’t the extreme step most people think, and the powerful concept of calorie density.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • What calorie density is, and why it’s so important for weight loss (or gain)
  • AJ’s healthy trick for helping Hollywood actors lose 10 pounds in a single month
  • How to eat more but weigh less
  • What AJ means when she says to “eat to the left of the red line”
  • Adapting your taste buds to enjoy less oil, salt, and sugar

Click the button below to listen now:

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The End of an Era for No Meat Athlete (and What’s Coming Next!)

Get ready … for the times, they are a changin’.

When I started No Meat Athlete, I didn’t have any hopes of changing anyone. I thought from the beginning that people would like to wear t-shirts to announce that they were “No Meat Athletes,” but that was the extent of my vision for this blog and brand.

And so it was easy to say, “I think our logo should be fun. How about a vegetable that’s doing a sport?”

I have the drawing skills of three year-old, but luckily, my sister Christine is pretty good. (See her blog, where she accompanies every post with a little doodle.)

So we started here:


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How to Pick Yourself and Start Making Change in the World


Hanging on the wall in my office, so that I see it every time I start a workday, is a one-page essay by Seth Godin, titled “Pick Yourself.”

This simple phrase, to me, represents the enormous opportunity offered to each of us by our hyper-connected world. There are almost no “gatekeepers” anymore: if you want to be a leader, an artist, a change-maker, you don’t need to wait around and hope you get picked.

Instead, pick yourself. Start doing the thing you want to do and use the incredible tools — blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, social media — now at your disposal to amplify and deliver your message to the people who need to hear it.

This is exactly what Alex and Jeanette Ruiz have done as leaders of the successful NMA Miami group. At a time in their life when they were considering a move to another city for lack of plant-based culture in Miami, the opportunity to step up and lead their local movement came along.

Their success in connecting with like minds made them hungry for more change, and they’ve taken their role as leaders in this movement a step further with a new podcast, called Planted in Miami, which was featured in iTunes’ “New and Notable” section last week.

In this episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, I talk with Alex and Jeanette about the success of NMA Miami and the steps they’ve taken to achieve early success with their podcast. This in hopes, of course, that it inspires you to find your voice in this movement, and to pick yourself.

Click the button below to listen now:

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A Look at Our No Meat Athlete Virginia Beach Group


Just like Miami and our other big running group successes, Virginia Beach came as a huge surprise.

In an area that’s home to several military bases and training centers — which means a transient population and (I figured) not a lot of interest in plant-based diets — one of our most active, tightest-knit running groups emerged.

And from my first morning with the group, I understood why.

My First Experience with the “Energy Lab”

We got up early on a Saturday to meet at leader Andrea Denton’s house, where we piled five into a car and drove 45 minutes to a 100-mile Tour de Cure cycling event … not to race, but just to support three members of the group who were riding.

When we arrived, I was surprised to meet another four or five group members, also not riding, just out there to cheer on their friends from the group. We brought out a big sign they had made that says “No Meat Athlete Virginia Beach — Energy Lab” and set up a table with lots of plant-based fueling options that they had made the night before, and long before we saw our three riders, other riders came by to grab some food (homemade Glo Bars were a hit) and ask what No Meat Athlete and the Energy Lab were all about.

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