Simplifying Healthy Eating: An Interview with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

What happens when one of most trusted, respected, and downright loved bloggers on the web starts eating a plant-based diet?

Leo Babauta has been vegetarian for quite some time now — in fact, the decision not to eat meat was a major factor in the life changes that prompted him to start Zen Habits, which now reaches over 1 million readers with advice and strategies for living a simple, healthy, fulfilling life.

But more recently, Leo has embraced a completely vegan diet. And to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this post: When a blogger like Leo goes vegan, he introduces a lot of others to this lifestyle — in his decidedly non-preachy, no-pressure, strikingly effective manner.

Thus was the born the 7 Day Vegan challenge, a collaborative project that Leo created by bringing together lots of well-known vegan bloggers, cookbook authors, and athletes (including fellow podcaster Rich Roll).

The site provides exactly what it sounds like: the framework for a week-long challenge to help readers try out a plant-based diet, complete meal plans, recipes, advice on habit change (Leo’s specialty) and nutrition and lifestyle tips. And it’s all completely free, there simply to help spread the message about this lifestyle we enjoy so much.

In this episode of the No Meat Athlete Radio podcast, Doug and I had the pleasure of hanging out with Leo for 45 minutes to talk food and healthy eating. Along with details about the 7 Day Vegan challenge, our conversation is all about simplifying the process of healthy eating in general — whether that means vegan, vegetarian, or just curious.

Enjoy the episode with Leo, and please, check out and spread the word about 7 Day Vegan. I really think it has the potential to do so much.

Click the button below to listen now:


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Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • How Doug bounced back from failure to tackle his 50-mile race (4:50)
  • Matt’s 100-miler training (7:30)
  • How “eating like a poor person” can lead to health (10:50)
  • Interview with Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits (16:30)
  • Why Leo chooses a plant-based diet (18:30)
  • Why eating vegan doesn’t have to feel like a sacrifice (23:25)
  • What the 7 Day Vegan Challenge is all about (25:20)
  • Leo’s idea of “the healthiest” diet (27:40)
  • How periodic cheat days can help you stay on track (34:20)
  • How tastes change when you eat whole, healthy, real foods (37:15)
  • Where to start when your overwhelmed by the idea of changing your diet (40:55)
  • How to avoid the “I can never eat ___ again” fear (45:40)
  • How Leo spreads the plant-based message without preaching (56:00)
  • Doug’s experience with the 7 Day Vegan Challenge (1:03:45)

Links from the show:



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  1. Heather Conrad says:

    Matt, I really enjoyed listening to this episode with Leo. It kept me engaged while I did a long run on the Towpath near Cleveland which got me wondering if the 100 miler you’re training for is the Burning River 100. I think I recall reading that in one of your posts but am not positive.

  2. This is a great program. The meal plan that works for you is also essential for any fitness training regimen. Great touch on the audio learning while running, keeps you motivated and pumped up. However, keep the volume within natural levels so you are still aware of your surroundings while running. Be safe and fit. Great post.

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