27 Nov 2015
No. *Drops mic and ends blog* Just joking! Of course you can! You will need to make changes and be smart about what you eat. But, before long, you will realise the benefits of eating whole foods (whole foods are foods in their natural state, i.e. they are unprocessed and unrefined). You will also realise how the vegan diet is a massive advantage to any athlete (or, in my case, wannabe athlete). Read about the protein myth here. When people think of a vegan diet they picture having to eat salads and grass all day. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber and perhaps an apple if you are feeling really adventurous. In reality it is curries, stir fries, roasts, smoothies, snacks, soups, stews, cereals and countless other options. A typical day of eating looks like this for me: Breakfast: A smoothie. I have become a smoothie addict since becoming vegetarian. I always have a banana in my morning smoothie, but other ingredients are berries, other fruits, ice, protein powder, chia or flax seeds, peanut or almond butter, coconut or almond milk, water, stevia, kale and other vegetables. Morning Tea: Fruit. Bananas, apples, grapes, oranges, kiwifruit, mandarins, strawberries... you get the idea. Lunch: Last night’s dinner, reheated. Cooking double at dinner is an easy way to have a wholesome meal available the next day and reduces the chance that you will buy your lunch. Afternoon Tea: Fruit. See morning tea. Dinner: Dinner is based around a source of carbohydrates (kumara, potato, brown rice, quinoa etc), then a large portion of vegetables (onion, mushrooms, broccoli, eggplant, tomato, capsicum etc), mixed with legumes (beans, lentils etc), nuts and a sauce. For example, tonight I had wholegrain pasta with onion, mushrooms, broccoli, capsicum and parsley, cooked in a satay sauce. After Dinner Snack: Dark chocolate, dairy-free ice cream, popcorn, potato chips if I’m being naughty. The majority of the above are whole foods. These are easier to digest and full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and all the other stuff we need to have a healthy diet. A good trick is to aim to open as few packets as possible when eating, as packaged foods are often processed and filled with additives and preservatives, particularly sodium and sugar. And you still have the energy to run? Fuck yes. I have too much energy, quite frankly, and I need to run to get rid of some of it. Whole foods are great sources of energy and generally contain little to no fat. This has lead to a reduction in a whole cup size for my man boobs and very little bounce when running. It is still important to be mindful of your energy, especially when increasing mileage in training, but simply increase your vegetable, fruit and carbohydrate intake (and overall calorie intake) and you will be fine. If you don’t believe me, that’s cool, I’m pretty sceptical of myself sometimes too. But think about what you put into your body during a long run to fuel it: bananas, dates, oranges, grapes, honey, dried fruits, oats etc. If meat is so crucial then why are you not fuelling your body during a long run or race with chicken wings and a glass of milk? Answer: because it is bad for you. Meat and dairy is counterproductive to running. There, I said it; now get the hell over it. So I should go vegan and I’ll be healthy? The following foods are vegan: - French Fries - Potato crisps (not all, but plenty are) - Sugar - Salt - Those terrible looking veggie patties at Subway. If these foods are the basis of your vegan diet then you should immediately stop saving for retirement. Spend that money now. You’ll be dead by fifty. And you have run marathons on a plant-based diet? Not yet, but I am going to. I have signed up for the Wellington Marathon in June and I am planning a half marathon or two before then as training (including the Wellington Round the Bays in February). I smashed my personal best time in my only half marathon as a vegetarian and this week I took 30 seconds off my 5km PB on a mostly vegan diet.