Meatless Marathon

by Lauren Neushel

Native Foods Cafe


Vegans and runners have a lot in common. They’d probably both
admit to being pretty dogmatic in behavior- strict about routine and steadfast
in lifestyle. Both are mindful of proper fueling and staying heart-healthy. And
let’s not forget their fascination with matters of digestion. Most importantly,
they take advantage of healthy, happy lifestyles. To be a runner and to be
vegan takes a lot of the same things- determination, practice and confidence.
So why not combine the two? We thought you’d never ask. 

With the half and full marathon seasons on the horizon, and
5ks and 10ks going off, what seems to be, every weekend, we had to address best
fueling practices if you’re running down the vegan trail.

Running 1Photo used by Native Foods Café, a vegan restaurant
group courtesy of Wikipedia


Because a big part of race training is done in the kitchen, there
has always been concern over vegan athletes- cutting out “traditional” proteins
and fats can be seen as a big no-no. After all, Amino acids (which come from
protein) repair our exhausted tissue, build muscle, and fuel our bodies after
workouts. So if cutting out all animal products sounds counterintuitive to all
those miles logged on the road, check out what powerhouse ultramarathoner,
Scott Jurek, has to dish about his switch to vegan training. In a recent article by
Runner’s World he said, “Being a vegan wasn’t a matter of subtraction,
but addition.” He found himself not restricting and depriving, but refueling in
a bounty of new and improved ways.

leader in the sport of 100+ mile races, Jurek, has consecutively (7 times!) won
the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, all on an entirely plant-based diet.
After making the switch he didn’t just continue to win, he won consistently
(and lost a layer or two of fat along the way). Jurek confesses that he’s not
sure whether it was the addition of nutrients into his diet, or the subtraction
of concentrated carcinogens and refined carbohydrates, or both, that made the
difference. Either way, he says he never felt better than he did as a vegan
athlete. Let’s all do a victory lap to that!

As long as the variety’s there and the energy is adequate,
training with a vegan diet isn’t only doable, it’s in many ways beneficial.

you’re vegan, you know the drill. If not, welcome to a fresh new perspective on
training in the kitchen. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, fruits,
fortified breakfast cereals, soy drinks, nuts all help athletes avoid
deficiencies. In order to keep those aminos from skipping out on their
own workout, rely on beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, lentils, non-dairy milks and
grains like quinoa, bulgar and oats. What you get in is what you put out. And
vegan runners are putting in the cleanest, purest nutrients and are reaping
some major benefits. To those skeptics, here’s our philosophy? Don’t knock it
till you try it. And when you do, we’re guessing it’ll be those metals


Running 2Image used
by Native Foods Café, a vegan restaurant group is courtesy of


When it comes to that nice little jog-around-the-block we
like to call a marathon, there’s nothing like a three-bean-lean chili, some
whole grains and hearty vegetables to get you moving. A plant-based diet means more vitamins and minerals,
more fiber, and less risk for toxins to enter the body. The Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest body of dietary professionals says that
well-planned diets of this kind, “are appropriate for individuals during all
stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood,
and adolescence, and for athletes.”


If you haven’t made the switch, we’re here to help make the
process easier. Try filling the gaps of a meatless diet slowly but surely.
Instead of a chicken sandwich for lunch, try an organic peanut butter one
instead. Craving a hearty vegetable stew? Fill it with garbanzo beans, brown rice
or quinoa. To add healthy fats into the mix, go for avocados, a bit of olive
oil or a handful of nuts. Think vegetables, fruits, beans, pasta, brown rice,
hummus and whole-wheat bread (pitas and bagels included).


No Meat Athlete” is a great resource to check out if you’re
looking for some extra tips and tricks. They recently wrote a great how-to on
post-workout recovery that we had to share. Some of their secrets include:


  1. Respecting the fuel window– eating or drinking your recovery meal in the 30
    minutes after your workout is complete.
  2. Choosing something that’s easy to digest– ideally something in liquid form like chocolate soy
    milk or orange juice.
  3. Refueling with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio- high-glycemic carbs like dates are a good fix. 
  4. Get out of the acid state with greens or other
    vegetables and fruits-
    to neutralize
    the acidic environment created in your body during a workout, use veggies and
    fruits for a neutralizing effect. 
  5. Drink 2 cups of water per pound of bodyweight lost.
  6. Replace electrolytes- fruit and sea salt are easy ways. 


Now take off you crazy runners and win us some medals in the
name of vegan running.


Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this image courtesy of




Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan athletes, vegan runners, vegan restaurant, no meat athlete 









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