The 2012 No Meat Athlete Holiday Gift Guide!

Face it — as a vegetarian or vegan athlete, you just might be that friend who is impossible to shop for. We tend to be kind of obsessive, and outside of food and fitness, there’s not always a lot of time leftover for other, gift-friendly hobbies. You know; golf, gadgetry-obsessing, necktie-wearing, etc.

That’s why Susan, Doug, and I decided to put together this little holiday gift guide, specifically for weirdos out there like us. Over the past few weeks, we’ve tried out a bunch of new (and some not new) vegetarian/vegan/fitness products, and the ones we liked best made our list!

We hope you’ll find the opportunity to not-so-subtly pass it  on to a friend whose gift list you’re on … or that you’ll find a few ideas for things you had no idea you badly needed. Which, of course, is what the holidays are all about, right? 🙂

Enjoy our holiday picks!

Matt’s favorites

Brooks PureDrift ($100) — An amazing new minimalist shoe from Brooks that’s designed to feel like an extension of the body. It starts with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, but by removing the sockliner, you can make it a zero drop. While you can’t technically wrap these up for Christmas (since they won’t be available until Jan. 3rd), I don’t think any runner will mind getting the old “photo that promises a gift” gift if you preorder a pair. They’re wonderful.

Let Them Eat Vegan! ($12.74) — My family is absolutely loving this cookbook from Dreena Burton. I love the truffled cashew cheese, my wife loves the lentil walnut burgers, my son loves the pistachio-spinach pesto on pasta. If you’re looking for an introduction to healthy, vegan cooking that even the kids will like, look no further.

DryMax Cold Weather Running Socks ($15) — Who doesn’t love getting socks in their stocking? Who doesn’t hate cold, wet feet while they’re running? DryMax are as high-tech as socks get when it comes to moving moisture away from the feet to keep them warm, which will give your runner one less excuse for not getting out to run in the cold.

OGIO Endurance Collection Gear Bags ($40-160) — Super high-quality bags designed with the endurance athlete in mind. My version (the 8.0) has separate compartments for clean clothes and wet/dirty clothes, a crush-resistant pocket for sunglass, a place for your helmet, and insulated bottle pocket, and a special pocket for keeping your gels and other nutrition organized. I use mine for any short trip, not just to races.

TofuXpress ($39.95) — Okay, so a tofu press might not be the sexiest gift you can give, but after they use it, they’ll love you. Why press tofu? Because it  removes the moisture to help the tofu to cook better, absorb more marinade, and have a meatier texture. You know the traditional method of wrapping the tofu in a whole roll of paper towels and balancing a tower of pots and pans on top? Yeah, now your friend won’t have to do that.

Doug’s favorites

Relentless Forward Progress ($18) — This essential ultrarunner’s handbook is a must-have for anyone thinking about venturing into the ultra world. Whether it is your first 50k or 100-miler, the author Bryon Powell of covers everything from training plans and fueling, to what to do when you have to poo during a race.

Peppermint Gu ($7-12 8-Pack) — Treat yourself to something special during the holiday season’s long workouts. Delicious and seasonal, these peppermint energy gels are the perfect boost you need to get you home faster for the real holiday fun. (Gu products are vegetarian but not vegan)

SPI Belt ($20) — I hate running with loaded pockets. This lightweight belt holds a few gels, your ID and keys, and even a cell phone if you want to stay connected. Plus you look awesome wearing what many will undoubtedly mistake as a tiny fanny-pack.

New Balance MT110s ($75) — Designed in part by one of the world’s top ultra runners, Anton Krupicka, these super light-weight trail shoes offer a tiny 4mm heel-to-toe drop giving you the feel of a minimalist shoe but the protection you need for the trail. This is what I like to call the perfect trail running shoe.

YakTrax Pro ($15-30) — Nothing ruins a beautiful snowy run more than a hard fall on your butt. I strap on a pair of YakTrax during a trail run when faced with snow, ice, or slush.

Knuckle Lights ($40) — It is important to see and be seen when running in the dark, but handheld flash lights can be annoying and difficult to use. After trying headlamps and other options, these Knuckle Lights shine above the rest. Cheap, bright, and guaranteed to always light up your path.

Garmin FR10 ($129.99) — This budget Garmin GPS might be the best possible bang for your buck. It is small, light, and simple to use, making it a perfect intro to the GPS watch world, or a solid everyday running watch.

Susan’s favorites

Compression and Ice Knickers110% Play Harder Knickers ($150) — There’s nothing worse than being pants-less and shivering in a tub full of ice…and yet, the post-run ice bath is a necessity. These knickers provide compression with strategically placed pockets for ice packs, making for a mobile ice bath that lets you keep your pants on and raid the refrigerator for post-run vittles.

Injinji Toesocks ($10) — These five-toed socks have completely eliminated my long-run blisters by preventing my toes from rubbing together. They’re also fun to wear. Yes, I just said socks are fun. Obviously, I need to get out more.

Smashfest Queen Tri & Cycling Kits ($79-$119) — Just because we’re blowing snot rockets on a bike doesn’t mean cycling girls have to give up looking like ladies. This line of women-specific cycling gear, launched by pro triathlete (and fellow vegan) Hillary Biscay in 2012, offers a perfect blend of style and comfort. It’s pink, but not too girly. Check out the casual clothing line, too!

Speedlaces ($6) — These are ubiquitous on the feet of triathletes everywhere. Having elastic laces on the shoes can shave off time in the transition from the bike to the run. They also guarantee you’ll never have to stop mid-race to tie a loose pair of shoelaces.

Sable WaterOptics Goggles ($50) — I know what you’re thinking: Fifty bucks for a pair of goggles? They’re worth every penny. I can’t stress enough how much I love the crisp optics, comfortable gaskets, and complete lack of leakage and fogging. I’ve only bought one pair, because I’ve only needed to buy one pair – these goggles last a long time. Spoil the swimmer or triathlete in your life with these.

Necklace from EndureTortoise and The Hare Necklace ($78) — Question: How cute is this necklace? Answer: Way cute. If you want to get on an endurance girl’s good side, this is the way to go.

Happy holidays from the NMA team!

Disclosure: None of the links in this post are affiliate links, but many of these products were provided to us free for review.



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  1. Our Tofu X-press broke after a few months of use, and the company offered only a slight discount for a replacement — despite the photographs we provided of the numerous cracks and outright snaps. We also spent a fortune having it shipped to Europe.

    The other products on your list look nice though. 🙂

  2. I love some of the recommendations here. I’ve got a pair of the Brooks PureGrit and the PureConnect both of which are the 4mm drop and I love them!

    But the tofu press strikes me as a unitasker of the first order. I generally use a small plate, tofu, large plate, can of beans to do my tofu pressing and I’ve never had any problem. And I don’t have to spend $35 extra on any thing to clutter up my kitchen.

    • Yea, we use the same system, but wrap a kitchen towel around the tofu and put our Le Creuset on top. Works like a charm every time.

      The knuckle lights look awesome. I’ve been using my knog lights wrapped around my fingers.

  3. I love knuckle lights! Unfortunately, they were a casualty of our last relay – so they are definitely back on my holiday wish list!

    So many other great things on this list – many that I will be adding to my own 🙂 Thanks!

  4. What in Gu makes it not vegan, or do you mean just this one flavor? I’ve never heard that before. Uh oh.

    • Apparently the amino acids in GU are animal-derived (and the GU people themselves confirmed it). Lame. It was in a comment on the NMA post on Energy Gels.

  5. not a fan of yaktrax, i’m afraid. i used them very little to run in and because i had run on both asphalt and snow/ice (not like i’m going to take them off and put them on every time the surface changes) they broke. i used them only a handful of times. yaktrax’s response? too bad, so sad, shouldn’t have run on asphalt with them. going to try stabilicers this winter season instead.

  6. As a runner with a dog, also on my list are

    Hands free leash
    Dog tshirt that says “Run mommy run”
    Collapsible water dish

  7. Great list, and yes, there are items on there that I never knew I had to have, but now thanks to this post, I *must* have them, lol. I especially like the knuckle lights and will most likely get them for the hubs who runs in the dark daily. I also like the speed laces for triathlons. Dreena’s cookbook is already on my wish list as well as socks. I have a thing for socks! I really like the bags too.

  8. I resisted the Tofu XPress forever—I was all “FORTY DOLLARS FOR SOME PIECES OF PLASTIC!” But I am so glad I bought it as it has dramatically improved my cooking life.

  9. LOVE the knuckle lights — what a cool concept. I need some!

  10. Jon Weisblatt says:

    Thanks for the gift ideas. Has anyone tried the Very Vegan Christmas Cookies cookbook by Ellen brown?
    Happy Chanukah! Happy Kwanzaa! Merry Christmas! Happy Winter Soltice!

  11. Peppermint Gu? How can I say no? They look delicious. With the energy with them they are perfect sin 😉 Grabbing few of them for me and my BF!

  12. Great gift ideas. Thanks.

  13. Haha. Definitely need to grab those Play Harder pants. I hate feeling sore after a long day of running in the park. (Might even be able to do more running knowing that I won’t be sore afterwards.)

  14. One’s health should never feel too expensive. If it’s good for you, go for it. Thanks for the guide, wouldn’t have thought of some things otherwise.

  15. Super helpful guide – thanks a million!

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