My short bio: I'm a 33-year old guy who lives in Asheville, NC. I've been vegan for 3 years, vegetarian for two before that. I hated running as a kid but ran a marathon in college (4:53), then worked for the next 7 years to qualify for Boston with a 3:09, before getting into ultrarunning. I'm allergic to any preaching about diet.

[UPDATE] Thanks everyone! Gotta go for the day. If you want to learn more about what I do my website is

My Proof:

Comments: 228 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

Dagon_natas13 karma

Hey Matt,

I just want to say thank you for being an athlete that I can point to when my friends tell me I'm crazy for being a vegan. Do you have any recommendations for supplements??

nomeatathlete13 karma

Thank you! When people tell me that I tell them to look at Scott Jurek or somebody like that, an actual elite athlete who does on a vegan diet.

I don't really use any supplements other than a multivitamin. I like Vega Sport and Heed sports drinks, and Vega makes good protein powder, but I also liked hemp protein powder because it was very close to whole food. But I don't use protein powder anymore; when I ran out last year and didn't buy it again for a few weeks, I didn't notice any problems, so I haven't used it since.

redemptionquest2 karma

What's the most important chemical to replace in your body while running long distances?

youngoffender6 karma

Carbohydrates, sodium, potassium, water. All of these are going to be dependent on how long you're running of course, and also on the weather conditions.

nomeatathlete6 karma

That's what I'd have said. A lot of research shows improved performance from having including protein (in a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio, I believe), but I'm not sure what distances or intensities this applies most for.

justbehappyxx12 karma

What are your tips for keeping iron levels in check? (esp. for females)

nomeatathlete12 karma

Beans, greens, and pumpkin seeds are probably my biggest iron sources. I put the pumpkin seeds in my smoothie every morning (we have a blender than handles nuts and seeds well, so I put a bunch in to thicken it and add protein, omega-3s, and iron).

I've heard of people using blackstrap molasses, almost as a supplement, to maintain iron levels.

From what I've heard, iron deficiencies have a lot to do with absorption, and certain combinations of food can help (about the only time I think food combining matters much).

I don't know much about it for females specifically, I apologize. Two good links about iron:

  1. (good list if plant-based iron sources)
  2. (A guest post on my blog from vegan RD Matt Ruscigno)

balinatyourservice11 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! how did you start out switching to a vegan diet? did you feel any setbacks during the transition? any advice?

nomeatathlete21 karma

I'm a big fan of extremely gradual change. When I went vegetarian, I first went a year without beef or pork, just chicken and fish for meat. Then phased the other two out over a period of 2-3 months.

Vegan was the same. After I went vegetarian, I tried a month-long vegan challenge, but didn't like it because I wasn't ready. After that I gradually lessened the amount of cheese I ate until one day I just decided I was done with it.

I guess you might call the all-or-nothing challenge a setback, since I ended up not sticking with it. But I like things like that that immerse you in what you are thinking about doing. Usually when I do something extreme and then slide back, I only slide back halfway, so I make progress that way and then gradually approach it again.

LifeReading10 karma

Hey Matt! Thanks for doing the AMA! I bought your book "No Meat Athlete" and read it in probably three days. I tried to go vegetarian, but was always hungry, and ironically I gained weight. What do you suggest I do?

Also, I wish I could be a runner like you. :)

nomeatathlete10 karma

A lot of times when people go vegetarian or vegan, they don't replace the calories they lose from getting rid of meat and dairy, two of the most calorically dense foods we eat. If you're not opposed to counting calories for a few days, you can do that and make sure you're still getting enough.

A lot of vegans I know say they have to eat way more often now than they used to. Plants are calorically poor, so you fill up without a lot of calories. They digest quickly, and then you need to eat again to avoid hunger. Especially at first.

I'm not sure about weight gain, but vegetarian and vegan don't imply "healthy." I think if anything does, it's "whole foods" (not the store). I'd say focus on that, and make the transition to plants very gradual, and your body will know what to do.

Why can't you be a runner??

grievous43110 karma

Hey Matt,

I read your article about weird things you do now that you are vegan. I was wondering what your favorite food-related project you have done is.

Also, what do you normally eat/do for recovery after a workout or long run?

Your podcast and blog are great! Thanks for inspiring all vegan runners.

nomeatathlete11 karma

Hmm, good question. My favorite food-related project ... helping out with Leo from Zen Habits' 7-Day Vegan program was really neat, because I've looked up to him for so long. I also liked Lift's Quantified Diet Project, though 'vegetarian' didn't perform too well.

After workouts and long runs (hard ones, not super slow paced ones) I try to replenish carbohydrate right away. Fruit, fruit juice, sports drink ... anything sugary and quick-digesting. Then an hour or two later, eat a normal, higher protein meal -- something like beans and rice.

Thanks for reading my blog and listening to the podcast!

dfreshrunner9 karma

Have you found that your running improved much after going vegan? Any major improvements after going vegan from being vegetarian for so many years?

nomeatathlete16 karma

It's hard for me to say. I've noticed that I don't get injured nearly as much nowadays, even running much longer distances. But my workouts aren't as hard now, much slower ... so it's hard to say.

Going vegetarian and then vegan got me to eat so many more plants, when I used to just ignore vegetables. I think that (adding fruits and vegetables), more than getting rid of the meat, is what has made the difference in my fitness and running.

Dblej789 karma

For someone contemplating going vegan, what advice can you offer on making the transition successfully & sticking with it?

nomeatathlete10 karma

Go really slowly, and just do it for one day a week at first, or one meal a day, and gradually expand it throughout your day or week. This way, your brain and the rest of your body learn to deal with it, and the habit can form before a big failure happens and you get discouraged and give up.

If you're the type of person who gets inspired by massive, sudden changes, then try the all-or-nothing approach. But realize from the beginning that it's just one approach, so if you fail after a week or two, you'll try again but more slowly.

Also, plan meals. Find plant-based recipes (they're everywhere), and go to the store to get those specific ingredients. Don't just buy a bunch of stuff and then bring it home and wonder what to do with it all.

mementomary7 karma

you should take a peek around /r/vegan! That have some great stuff! :)

nomeatathlete5 karma

Thank you, I will!

twix_mix8 karma

Hi Matt, what would be your 'go to' snack you for a 30+ miler? (I have tried Rice balls from Scott Jurek's book with mixed effect. )

And were you inspired by Scott Jurek and Born to Run with becoming Vegan and eating Pinole?

nomeatathlete9 karma

For long runs like that, I tend to like non-sweet foods better than dates or sports drink (which I still include, but get tired of after a few hours). I like hummus on pita or refried beans (vegan kind) on corn tortillas. Both of these are easy to carry and exactly what I'm hungry for after 20+ miles.

Scott Jurek is a huge inspiration for me, and I didn't know about him until I read Born to Run (I never followed elite-level ultrarunning). And yeah, trying pinole was a result of Born to Run too.

WaffleRun8 karma

I think your blog and The Laziest Vegans in the World are my go-to vegan sites (Yes. I know that's a little funny, but I still love me some occasional vegan junk food while being a no-meat athlete)! Would you consider answering the Laziest Vegan's Top Ten questions (Moby and Isa Chandra Moskowitz have participated. It's stuff like, "favorite ice cream, favorite cereal"), or do you pretty much avoid processed foods (since you don't have a microwave and all that)?

I would just get a kick out of seeing my two favorite vegan bloggers unite! Thanks for the AMA!

nomeatathlete9 karma

Never heard of that blog, but I'll check it out!

I don't eat a lot of processed foods, and less every day, but I don't avoid them 100%. It'd be fun to answer those questions. Can't get the page to load right now though ... how do I sign up?

WaffleRun3 karma

I think you just need to tweet him (John McDevitt, Laziest Vegan and dude in charge of Vegan Omaha) @LaziestVegans to set stuff up! Thanks for responding! So excited!

nomeatathlete4 karma

Thanks, will do!

hypnodiva7 karma

What are your thoughts on gluten?

nomeatathlete16 karma

I think some people really do have sensitivities to it (and many obviously have real allergies to it), and of course they should avoid it.

But I don't think gluten affects everyone, and that there's not much reason to avoid it. Wheat isn't a super-high nutrients-per-calorie food, so I limit it for that reason and because I think eating the same food (any food) for three meals a day is weird.

Brendan Brazier, the vegan triathlete and author of Thrive, has suggested doing a 10-day gluten-free trial to gauge how it affects you, both when you remove it and when you bring it back. I like this idea.

jordancore7 karma

Hey Matt! Love your book. Love your website. Love your stories. My favorite shirt is definitely the green sleeveless no meat athlete shirt. Whenever I wear it I get so many complements!

Do you ever sponsor runners? Also what are your thoughts on Vega?

jordancore11 karma

Here is a picture of me and my friend in the shirt at whole foods. People always stop us and this lady wanted to take a picture.

I'm on the left

nomeatathlete7 karma

That is great! Mind if I share it on social media?

nomeatathlete6 karma

We've sponsored a few runners, but just giving them free shirts and stuff (like Meredith Murphy, who did Badwater a few times).

I used to use Vega products a lot, but then I just stopped using supplements. I still like their sports drink, but I wish it didn't have caffeine in it (love it in coffee, but don't really like running with it). At least back when I was using their stuff and paying more attention to it, the ingredients were always very high-quality. Not cheap though!

usurp_synapse3 karma

I love the black singlet, but it's always sold out. Mine unfortunately got mixed up and thrown in the dryer and is not longer the right size.

Here is a pic of me in it at a half marathon. I took second place overall.

nomeatathlete3 karma

Yeah, I'm not sure what's going on with singlets. The green is way more popular so we keep almost getting rid of black, but then a few people want it so we stock it again. We're changing a lot about the way we do shirts though and are going to start having more designs, available for just short periods at a time. Thanks for supporting!

ecofriendlyblonde7 karma

Hey Matt! I'm a huge fan of your blog and often go to your site for recipes and advice. I'm not vegan, but I try to maintain a plant based diet. Anyway, I'm training for a 50 miler right now and I'm trying to avoid using gels (even Vega). Do you have any recommendations (or recipes) about alternative fuels to use during long runs? Right now I'm just using dates which have actually been working out pretty well for me. Also, can we expect any more books from you in the future? Thanks again for doing this AMA!

nomeatathlete6 karma

Dates are what I always suggest as a gel alternative, so you beat me to it. I tried Heed for the first time last summer and really liked it compared to, say, Gatorade -- my stomach tolerates much more of it so I've been able to replace a lot of the solid-food calories with more sports drink, and that's convenient. Gummies are good too, and I've seen some recipes for natural ones, but I haven't tried any myself.

As for another book, I'm not sure. Definitely self-published ebooks; that's easy and fun. I'm very glad to have done one "real" book but I'm not sure the benefits of doing a second would be worth it. But if a big publisher were interested and the right deal came along, I could see a cookbook (like 125-150 recipes instead of just 50 like in the first book) doing a lot to make this lifestyle accessible to people and making them aware of it as an option.

Thanks, great questions! Train hard! But make sure the easy days are truly easy. :)

crumbbelly6 karma

What inspired you to take on this particular run? How do you feel having accomplished it? What did you do about cramps?

nomeatathlete9 karma

Right after I ran my first marathon, in 2002, I heard about an ultramarathon where people ran 100 miles. I thought I was a big deal running a marathon, so I honestly thought 100 miles was a typo or a joke. Ever since then (and since I realized it was real), I've been fascinated by the distance.

I signed up for one in 2011 and never even started training. I think I was just intimidated. After a break from running, I signed up for this one (Burning River 100 in Ohio) which seemed like a fair first 100. 80% trails and some decent climbs, but nothing like the big ultras out west.

It was such a good accomplishment for me. Extremely painful at times (blisters were the big issues for me; it was muddy) but when I think back on it, it's my favorite race I've done. Not the same thrill as when I qualified for Boston (that took MUCH more work), but still a great memory.

I didn't have any cramping issues. It was a cool day, so that helped. I drank Heed sports drink all day, so never ran short of electrolytes. Blisters on my feet were definitely the limiting factor.

vanawyte666 karma

Hey Matt! Thank you for all you do for all the veggie runners out there. Joel Fuhrman started me on the path to clean eating, and your website helped to guide me in pursuing running as a NMA! I'm now training for my first Half Marathon in Zion next March and using your training materials as I prepare for it. The furthest I've ever run so far is 4 miles (!!!).

How do you balance running and your social life? As I begin training I know I'll need to form a schedule, but working in the art community requires a lot of late night events. What does a day in the life of Matt look like?

nomeatathlete4 karma

Good luck with your half marathon!

With 2 kids and just always thinking about my business, I don't really have a lot of social life time. I probably go out or hang out with friends once a week on average, or do something with the whole family on weekends (Asheville is great for that).

I save time by almost never using Facebook or any social media except for business, and I don't watch TV except for Netflix now and then. (I don't think TV is bad; I just wouldn't be able to do other stuff if I spent much time watching it.)

Also, I multitask when I run. I listen to podcasts or audiobooks, or try to meditate, depending on what I'm into at the time. And while training for something like a half marathon or beyond takes a good bit of time, it's not THAT much time ... 30-50 minutes most days, with a longer run on the weekend.

Don't forget that you can run with friends! It's not an art event, but is more social than running alone (of course) and helps pass the time, too.

Typical day for me: wake up, do some sort of mediation or creativity thing (I'm trying the Artist's Way recently), hang out with the kids and family, work from 9 to 2, go for a run, do a little more work, make dinner or watch the kids while my wife does. Then read, hang out with the family, think about work projects I'm excited about, read more, in bed by 10:30 or so.

aaronkusch6 karma

what advice do you have for eating a plant based diet for a family on a budget?

nomeatathlete8 karma

It actually doesn't have to be that expensive, and some of healthier choices are some of the cheapest foods -- bulk beans, grains, nut and seeds.

Fruits and vegetables can be very expensive, but you don't have to buy organic. Print out the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists and skip organic when you can.

Don't buy fresh herbs; use dried. Or grow your own.

There are also several books about eating cheap on a plant-based diet. Vegan on the Cheap and Eat Vegan for $4 a Day or something like that are two. Often they're big stews and soups that you can make a huge quantity of and freeze to reheat later, so cheap and time-saving.

A few more tips in this post:

mcgeeb6 karma

Hey Matt - veg runner here. I completed my first marathon last year, and am contemplating a 50k. What mileage would you suggest topping out on a long run for that distance?

nomeatathlete7 karma

24-26 miles, or even a few 22's if you find anything longer breaks you down too much (which you won't know until you try). The big thing is make sure you get a lot of your long runs on trails if yours is a trail ultra; it'll usually take 20% longer to run trails so a lot more time on your feet. And walk the hills, from the very beginning!

linzee6535 karma

Hi Matt,

First all all, let me please take the time to say thank you. I read all of your blog entries and take all of them very seriously. I also use your book along with Thrive and Eat to Live as my "bibles" for a plant based diet for optimized fitness and recovery.

My question is about your Tart Cherry post from the other day. I was surprised to read this post for two reasons: 1) your results were so incredible, but 2) I was a bit surprised that you tried what I consider a "magic" diet food, similar to something that Dr. Oz would promote. I often stray from these sorts of foods, because if they have strong therapeutic properties (whether it be natural occurring or man made) your body is some how have to "pay back" what it got out of it's healing properties. E.g. Yerba Mate is hard on your adrenal glands, so you must take precautions to boost recovery in other ways. So from what I am understanding, tart cherries have active ingredients that are anti inflammatory. This sounds great! I just feel like it's too good to be true based on the "nothing is life is easy" motto. Do you have any opinions on this?

Thanks so much! -Lindsay

nomeatathlete5 karma

Hey Lindsay, great question. First, remember that the cherries challenge and series of posts was sponsored, the first time I've done sponsored posts (and I was really happy that people still seemed to enjoy the content).

So certainly that was a motivator, but I still wouldn't have done it if I had thought of cherries as a "magic" food like what you're talking about Dr. Oz promoting. The last I had heard of tart cherries was from Scott Jurek using them, so that made me curious, but that was years ago. Somehow cherries don't seem so faddish to me, but who knows, I could have just missed the boat. :)

Hmm, "nothing in life is easy"? I don't really think that's true, but I certainly thing you're right to be suspicious when something seems too good to be true. If you want a drawback, cherry juice/concentrate is not a whole food, and I avoid fruit juice otherwise except for either a treat or around workouts. Just too much sugar, not a lot of the rest of the stuff. The cherry juice has doubled as a post-workout fruit juice for me, so that has worked. But if someone weren't a runner, I would say they should find an anti-inflammatory food that doesn't have so much sugar.

Thanks for reading my blog and asking a question!

Pseudovegan5 karma

Hey Matt, thanks for doing this! I'm a pseudo vegan (mostly plant based) and just started getting into running. I read a lot about the importance of protein as I increase my workout regimen. I know all the obvious plant proteins (quinoa, chia, hemp) and want to stay away from too much processed foods (i.e., tempeh, tofu, etc.). What's your take on protein as an ultra runner and how to incorporate an adequate level of plant-based protein? Thanks!

nomeatathlete5 karma

I honestly don't think about protein much. I don't use protein powder; when I stopped last year while training for the 100 I noticed NO adverse effects.

What I do, though, is make sure I have something I think of as protein-rich in each meal or snack I eat, with only a few exceptions. So if I'm having pasta, I'll put beans in the sauce or sprinkle ground nuts on it, or puree soaked cashews into the sauce. If it's salad, add beans or seeds. Bagel, add almond butter or hummus.

15 percent of total calories is what I try to get, and that's in line with what the elites I've talked to get. And not hard at all.

bonnso5 karma

What's your favorite vegan junk food?

nomeatathlete14 karma

Beer, when it's vegan. Also Oreos. And tortilla chips.

tealc_spock_data5 karma

What made you to decide to start running and how did you get better at it? Did it take a long time to build stamina?

I've recently started running (vegan for 2 years) and it's difficult not to be discouraged at the slow progress in performance improvement..

nomeatathlete17 karma

I hated running as a kid, and didn't really pay attention to fitness at all. In college I started lifting weights with my roommates. We were idiots and one day one of us decided he was going to run a marathon, so the others said we would too. Most painful day of my life, way worse than the 100!

I finally stopped getting injured and starting improving when I did two things:

  1. Slow down. 1-2 minutes slower per mile than I could complete whatever run I was doing in.

  2. Take 180 steps per minute (3/second). It makes the rest of your form fall into place.

Once I had those down, I could put in lots more miles, mostly easy but with hard workouts about 2 days per week. But on the easy days, go really, really slow. Most people go way too fast when they think they're going easy and recovering.

the_pirou4 karma

B12 aside, which supplements (if any) do you use?

nomeatathlete12 karma

I'm a fan of Joel Fuhrman, and I take his multivitamin, which includes B12. Sometimes I go off the multivitamin, and then I make sure to still take a B12 pill and use iodized salt.

I used to use protein powder in smoothies, but when I was training for the 100-miler last summer I ran out, and lazily didn't buy it again for a little while. After two weeks I realized I hadn't noticed a difference from not having it, even with a lot of running, and a year later I still haven't. So no more protein powder for me.

FettleVegan4 karma

Hey Matt! Hope all is well. What's your go-to snack these days for pre- or post-workout?

nomeatathlete8 karma

Hi FettleVegan! Pre-workout I love medjool dates, because they taste good, are convenient, and the sugar gets into your system very quickly. Post workout, usually just some sports drink or fruit juice. Although sometimes an entire baguette (white, not wheat) is delicious then.

Ukbis3 karma

Hey Matt, thank you for doing an AMA and also thank you for being awesome! I love your website, reading your stories really made me realise that I could run a marathon, even if I've never been the "sporty type". Your book Marathon Roadmap helped me achieve my first marathon, it has been an amazing experience. Completing that marathon made me realise I could do anything if I just set my mind to it. While that is really empowering, it also scares me a little. Running a marathon takes a lot of work and devotion. I can only imagine how much work and dedication an ultra would take. How do you decide what to set as your next goal? In the months of training in advance, do you ever doubt yourself and wonder if you really should or want to spend so much of your time and energy on it, while you could also be doing something else?

nomeatathlete5 karma

Congrats on your marathon! " ...made me realise I could do anything if I just set my mind to it" is the reason I run, too.

Actually, my ultras haven't been that much more work than marathon training. For the 100, I peaked at 60 miles a week, and with marathons I was doing 40-50 miles most weeks.

I used to force goals, make myself choose something (the old "sign up for one race before you finish the previous" trick). But then I found that I always fizzled out on those goals. Now I wait for them to come to me. I know it's real when one hits me and then I'm on the internet for 3 hours researching it like a madman and it's all I can think about. Those are the goals that I stick with -- and usually they're bigger than the ones that I give up on (not a coincidence, I don't think).

I really try to make the best use of my time when I run. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks, and it's really good alone time for me (temporary escape from a house of two toddlers!). I'm not one of those people who runs just because they love running for its own sake ... I wish I liked it in that way, but I don't.

doodiedoodieDOG3 karma

Hi Matt! I've been a big fan of your site for a few years and recently got your beginner half marathon training book. I have loved the program so far, but in the digital world (I have the ebook) did you ever think about providing a calendar that would be easily dropped into google calendar or ical? I know there are a few websites out there that do this with Hal Higdon schedules - It would be great for us that use google to run our lives!

Thanks for all your work on dispelling vegan athlete myths!

nomeatathlete3 karma

Great idea! I honestly had not thought of providing a calendar that would work with Google and other hi-tech stuff. I really like a lot of things about living smartphone-free, but I do sometimes get the sense that I'm falling behind like an old person. One of these days I'm going to give in, not at all because I miss the convenience but so that I keep up with what's going on in the digital world. Thanks for the suggestion and for training with my program!

Frajer3 karma

do you ever get cravings for meat and/or dairy?

nomeatathlete12 karma

Not anymore, but in the first few months I madly craved buffalo chicken wings. And pork BBQ. I used to love both of those. But that went away ... I found that mostly I was craving the flavor of the sauce, and you can put that on french fries or vegetables and get past the craving.

Dairy was surprisingly easy. I hung onto cheese for a while, afraid to give it up, but once I made the decision to do so, it stopped being appealing.

Veinguy3 karma

Hi Matt, big fan. Do you vary your diet or add any foods when nursing minor injuries like tendinitis?

nomeatathlete2 karma

Thank you; I appreciate it! I've really never tried changing my diet to treat injury (been lucky not to have many injuries since I started paying attention to food). I hear lots of good things about ginger and turmeric for inflammation, and I've been experimenting with tart cherry juice (for a series of sponsored posts) and been really surprised and how it has helped relieve a nagging shoulder injury.

jennifer19113 karma

I've been experimenting with running with "real" food and my biggest problem is carrying it. Medjool dates are one of my favorites too - do you have any gear recommendations for stashing inconvenient food?

nomeatathlete3 karma

I have a Nathan hydration vest, but my best use for it has been taking the bladder out and just using it to carry food, socks, and whatever else I might need. This is what I did during the 100, and many of the long training runs. Then water in a handheld bottle -- of course you've got to be able to refill it along the way.

cretensis_cretensem3 karma

What's your best source of protein? B12?

nomeatathlete11 karma

Protein, probably beans. Also nuts and seeds, and tofu or tempeh now and then (maybe twice a month). But I aim for about 15% of my calories to come from protein, and even a box of whole wheat pasta has about that percentage, so protein really isn't a big concern if you're eating whole foods.

B12 I get from a supplement. I don't believe there's a reliable way to get it from plants, except foods like cereals that are fortified with it. (Some will disagree and argue that you can get it from dirty produce.)

jswest3 karma

Hi Matt, I stumbled across your site a long time ago when I was becoming a vegetarian and was drawn into how you managed to cook healthy meals while being a full-time PhD student (I was in the same boat at the time!) I was wondering if you finished your PhD or if the blog took over? I can imagine balancing the two (and a family) would be really tough. Thanks!

nomeatathlete5 karma

Right, I was working on my PhD in Applied Math. I got my Masters and started my blog shortly after (maybe as a way to procrastinate on my dissertation?), and it did indeed take over. I'm happy with the choice to stop though ... I love math and definitely miss it, but I didn't want to be a teacher and was not on a track to have a very fulfilling job. I've still got hopes of one day going back to school to get an econ PhD or something, who knows.

inertiacreepsme2 karma


nomeatathlete30 karma

I'm vegan because I don't feel right about eating animals, especially with the way they're treated. I've noticed that I feel great eating this way, but that's not the main reason I do it.

No, I'm really not trying to convert people. I don't like telling people what they should do. I'd rather be an example that you can be healthy with a diet like this, and if that or anything else I write helps people to make it happen, that's great.

Zemiakovy2 karma

Hey Matt,

Thanks for doing this AMA! What do you eat during runs? Do you go with gels like the rest of us or is there anything awesome that you can give me as a tip for my next marathon?

nomeatathlete2 karma

I like a combination of Heed sports drink (or a homemade one), medjool dates (a lot like energy gels, but natural), and for ultras or longer training runs, things like pita & hummus or vegan refried beans on corn tortillas. And sometimes bananas.

23carrots2 karma

You are awesome! Love your blog - it is an awesome resource! I switched from vegetarian (7 yrs) to vegan in January and am loving experimenting with new recipes so, naturally, my question is: What are your favorite vegan cookbooks?

nomeatathlete3 karma

There are so many ... current favorites:

  • Oh She Glows
  • Isa Does It
  • Thrive Foods
  • Choosing Raw
  • 1,000 Vegan Recipes
  • Appetite for Reduction

A bunch more that I've forgotten, and a bunch more here:

Good luck with the vegan diet!

cbrand12 karma

Hey Matt, I just started getting into your blog and I am enjoying it quite a bit! I wondered what your thoughts were on using nutritional yeast with B12 to completely supplement your B12 intake. Is it something you have attempted?

nomeatathlete2 karma

I think it's a perfectly good source (though check the levels for whatever brand you're using; it could vary since it's fortified with B12), but in general I don't like to depend on fortified foods for B12 because I don't eat any one food consistently enough to know for sure that I'm getting it. So taking a pill is easier for me. But if you know you're getting the right amount every day (or a larger amount, once a week), then you can make it work!

We do use nutritional yeast sometimes in cheesy-type sauces and toppings, but not specifically for the B12.

snafuing12 karma

I'm a runner who is vegan-curious and trying to reduce my consumption of animal products thanks to you! I'm taking a backpacking trip near Asheville this fall with carnivore friends. Where can we get some tasty craft beer and vegan food, and what vegan foods are good for backpacking (aside from trail mix of course!)?

Love your blog, you're an inspiration!

nomeatathlete3 karma

Great! Asheville is amazing. Very quirky but I love it here.

Plant is my favorite restaurant. Laughing Seed and Rosetta's are also good, and both have lots of vegan options.

Beer: There are like 15 breweries downtown (85,000 people), so it's not hard to find them! Green Man, Wedge, Wicked Weed, and Hi Wire are my favorites.

I actually don't do much backpacking, but medjool dates are like natural energy gels so they'd work well. If you're talking overnight, premade foods like Tasty Bite aren't all that tasty but get the job done. I like making energy bars with nut butter as the binder; lots of calories there to keep you full and happy.

Thanks for reading my blog and congrats on your changes!

ericamoore12 karma

What is your current favorite beer and favorite dessert?

nomeatathlete2 karma

Ooh ... like everyone (it seems) I really like double IPA's. I don't really have a favorite particular one; I just like trying new ones.

Never been a big dessert guy. I do love a banana split though, and with the vegan ice cream out there now it's not hard to make one.

ndodpgk162 karma

Hi Matt. Any advice on lifting weights and maintaing mass while vegetarian? I find it tough to do! Are there other websites out there similar to yours or maybe some sort of veggie workout forum that you could recommend?

nomeatathlete1 karma

See the above answer -- basically, eat lots of calories and lots of fat, and limit running or any cardio activity. But if you're naturally skinny and your body goes there when you eat a whole foods diet, it may not be so healthy to try to fight it by eating more and moving less.

There are a few plant-based bodybuilding sites I know of, but I haven't spend much time on either:

Jonesoda2 karma

Favorite breakfast food?

nomeatathlete1 karma

Smoothie! Just about every day. It's not that I love how it tastes so much; it's that it's a very tolerable way to get tons of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Here's the smoothie formula I use -- I like the formula idea because you can sub in different ingredients every day so you're not having the exact same breakfast all the time.

nnattaway2 karma


How do you kindly respond to friends or family members who strongly disagree with veganism and tell you they are worried you're unhealthy?

Thanks so much!! Naomi

nomeatathlete3 karma

I've been fortunate not to encounter that. I guess because I don't try to push it on anyone or complain when there's nothing for me to eat, accepting that that's part of my choice, people tend not to argue with me about it. I'd think they were ridiculous if they told me I was unhealthy because of my diet.

But if you're looking for advice -- I'd say just deflect that sort of stuff. I'm always open to have a conversation but I hate arguments where both people are trying to persuade the other and neither is open to the possibility of change. So I don't get in those.

ktaylor4512 karma

Hi Matt! I love your website and No Meat Athlete book. Our son who is almost 11 years old has decided to go vegetarian (my husband and I already are) any tips on kid friendly foods that your children enjoy and do you recommend a multivitamin for kids? Also he really wants to run a half marathon when he turns 12, any thoughts on this? He has already run lots of 5Ks and three 10Ks with us. Thanks!

nomeatathlete2 karma

My kids both love their smoothies and hummus. Sometimes we have to sweeten the smoothie with a little juice, but we're slowly phasing that out. Raw veggies dipped in hummus, and trail mix with raw nuts are really common snacks in our house, plus loads of fruit. Whole wheat pasta (or corn/quinoa blend pasta) is always a hit, with pesto or red sauce (easy to puree soaked cashews and greens into the sauce to get more good stuff).

In general, involving kids in cooking does so much for their willingness to try things. Similarly, having a garden has been really great: all the sudden green beans become not scary when my son helped grow them and has watched the plant develop.

For a multivitamin, we give our son (4 years old, daughter is not old enough yet) a liquid multivitamin from Dr. Fuhrman each morning. Just powder that dissolves in water; he likes the taste.

I've mentioned Dr. Fuhrman a few times in this AMA, so I should point out that I'm not an affiliate or anything like that for his stuff. I've just found him to be a good source of info (and he has a great book called Disease-Proof Your Child!)

Your son is amazing! I couldn't have imagined running even one 5K as a kid. Good for him!

spruestory2 karma

Hi Matt, if you were forced to give up either running or veganism, which would it be? Followup: do you hate stupid rhetorical questions?

nomeatathlete3 karma

I'd give up running. I like running because it's a vehicle for doing stuff that I used to think was impossible (even a marathon was that, at first). And it's comfortable now that I'm used to it, so it's easy to keep doing it. But if I had to find another outlet, I'm sure I could.

One of my favorite questions yet!

annieandroid2 karma

Hi Matt- I've been a vegan runner for two years (and have seen great results because of it!) However, I'm leaving for college in about a month and am a little worried about finding vegan options in the dorms and generally eating enough. (I've had problems with dramatic weight loss + amenhorrhea in the past due to low caloric intake). Do you have any recommendations about staying healthy and avoiding junk food in college? Thanks!

nomeatathlete1 karma

I haven't been to college since being vegan, but I dealt with (maybe) a similar level of inconvenience during my book tour. What I learned there was that when I had very few options, I usually made the best choices of all -- raw fruit and vegetables, and nuts and seeds are very portable and available almost everywhere. It might take a serious adjustment if you're not used to eating a lot of that stuff, but you could eat this most of the day and then just have maybe 1 meal a day where you've got to buy something from the cafeteria and not have a lot of healthy choices. Although in grad school when I was vegetarian (not yet vegan, I don't think) there was always one vegetarian choice among the different food vendors. Not always healthy, of course.

BillyQ1 karma

If someone invented meat that contained no meat, would you be up for eating that?

nomeatathlete1 karma

I think someone did:

I don't know if I'd eat that, but I wouldn't be ethically opposed to doing so if it were really not animal-derived. Just seems weird.

sweetpotatogreens1 karma

Hi Matt, love the blog and podcast!

I have a few questions:

-Do you have a 'formula' for meals or how you eat in general to have a balanced diet, like 1/2 veg, 1/4 protein, 1/4 starch; or 7 servings of fruits/veg, etc.?

-What is your next goal?

-What should you do if your goal is 'unmeasurable,' like if you wanted to be really great at your job, for example?

-How do you manage working on more than one goal at a time? Or do you think it's too difficult to have more than one goal you are working on, even if they are both really long term (multiple years)?

Thanks so much for doing this AMA!

nomeatathlete1 karma

  • No, I don't have a system like that for healthy eating. At least not one with numbers in it ... but I do simple things like "a grain, a green, and a bean." I've really gotten away from thinking about protein and carbohydrate and fat, and just eating food that is real and close to its natural state. If I ate broccoli with some kind of sauce for an entire meal, then black beans for another, fruits throughout the day, etc., that would work for me. All real food.

  • I'm waiting for my next goal to come inspire me! I'm thinking about the Umstead 100-miler in North Carolina next year, and one day I'd love to do Badwater, the 135-mile race through Death Valley. But that's a long way off. Breaking 3 hours in a marathon would be nice, too, but since getting into ultras it's hard to get myself to train fast again!

  • If you're already motivated by wanting to do great at your job, you don't necessarily need to make it measurable. But if you did want to measure, you could objectively define success by a certain pay level, position, office, number of people under you, etc. Or maybe your company has a better metric than those?

  • I do best with just one main goal, since I do best with goals that are a big reach. Any more than four at a time just seems crazy to me. I find myself getting obsessed with one goal, so that my life comes out of balance in other areas, and then once it's done I go fix those other areas and hopefully choose another obsession goal in one of them. And so on. Balance and moderation have never really worked for me.

Great questions! Thanks!

littleladydiver1 karma

What are your top 3 "treats" or desserts? I'm trying to set the example to my kids that healthy stuff can be desserts too. Also, to stretch or not to stretch? By the way, thank you for all you do. You really have inspired us!

nomeatathlete1 karma

Three treats (and I have kids too so we fight the same battle with food):

  1. Smoothie, but with juice added and greens removed when it's a treat.
  2. Energy bars -- we made chocolate-cherry ones last week from this formula and to my son that's as good as a brownie
  3. Vegan ice cream, bought from the store -- not healthy by any means, but what's life without ice cream? Just now and then.

I don't stretch. I used to do a dynamic stretching routine as a warmup, like this one from Runner's World. But then I got lazier, and still didn't get injured, so I've stopped. With ultrarunning like I've done recently, the intensity is so low that I don't think a warmup is needed.

cb1176081 karma

Hey Matt. Thanks for the site, podcasts, and inspiration. I wanted to ask what are your secrets to preventing GI upset or bowel movements while running? It seems like I eat so much fiber throughout the day I almost always have to stop on my runs.

nomeatathlete1 karma

I hear that from a lot of people. If you have issues with too much fiber, then something like dates is not a good choice for fueling a race. Liquids might be better, but too much of those could cause problems too.

Really, lame as this answer is, you've just got to experiment. Treat your long runs not just as practice for running, but for nutrition, and keep a journal of what you eat and how it worked out. Try something new every time, so that by race day, you know what works.

Also you might be able to figure out the timing, like getting up to eat several hours in advance, and then shifting to fluid as the race or run approaches.

lindavegan1 karma

Want to know how to get best iron absorption? Eat your beans with some Vitamin C, like Salsa.

nomeatathlete1 karma

Yep, great tip!

lenaivesbeth1 karma

Hi Matt! You and your training plan were totally the only reason I was able to finish my first half marathon (and the other two since then)! I've also gone vegan because of you, but I keep loosing weight without meaning to (every girls dream, right?) and people are starting to worry about it. Do you have any suggestions for maintaining weight as a vegan? Thank you!!

nomeatathlete1 karma

Wow, very cool! Congratulations!

My only suggestion for maintaining weight is to eat whole foods, as much as possible. I like oil and it has its uses now then, but I don't think of it as a health food anymore. It's not a whole food. If a teaspoon will do, don't use a tablespoon.

Also, eating a huge salad before dinner (like a half hour or hour before, so you're not rushing through it to get to the dinner) can help fill your stomach up with good stuff before you're even thinking about the main course, so you'll eat less of it.

You might find this post useful. I think a few simple guidelines, with lots of flexibility, are key for maintaining weight and making this a lifestyle, not a crash diet:

10 Simple Guidelines for Eating Healthier Than Ever

More extreme approaches might be required for fast weight loss, but for maintenance, I think this is better.

truetowhoIam1 karma

How did you make up for all the protein needed for your run? I'm thinking you probably ate nuts but what else did you eat? Also, why did you become a vegan?

nomeatathlete1 karma

I didn't really think about protein during the run, mainly just focused on total calories and carbohydrate. But I did eat a decent amount of almond butter, hummus, and vegan refried beans, so certainly a good bit of protein when you add it all up.

NorbitGorbit1 karma

what are your fast food strategies? which restaurants are most vegan friendly in terms of good taste?

nomeatathlete1 karma

Chipotle is about it for fast food, really. Their black beans are vegan, and a lot of times their pinto beans are too. You can get a huge and delicious vegan burrito for 6 bucks. High in sodium, but hey, it's fast food.

PETA has a listing of vegan fast-food options at all the normal places, but after not eating that stuff for a long time I'd just rather prepare ahead of time. Which it turns out is one reason this diet has worked for me; I tend to plan more and make better choices as a result of the admitted inconvenience.

Most often I'll try to plan road trips to go by a Whole Foods, and I get stuff from their food bar or salad bar, plus lots of fruit and vegetables and their raw trail mix to keep in the car.

Mtnrunner021 karma

Matt, will you ever do temporary tattoos with the running carrot?

nomeatathlete1 karma

Been thinking about it! I think soon we will. You could always get a real one, like those 6 or 7 crazy people out there who did.

bwheat1 karma

Hey Matt! I did my first half marathon following your guide and just signed up for my first full this fall. As a vegan, I'm eating a lot of beans and have increased my consumption of them lately. However, this has also increased my flatulence level. I just started trying kombu to help reduce the effects, but do you have any other tips on how to reduce flatulence for fellow bean eaters?

nomeatathlete1 karma

I really don't. Sorry! I know some people take weeks or months to adjust to the diet. What about that Beano product?

addiek791 karma

I am coming to Asheville in 2 week, do you have any hiking spots you can recommend?

nomeatathlete1 karma

Bent Creek is the popular spot with a big trail system. It's about 20-25 minutes south of downtown. Lots of good trails in Black Mountain too, 20 minutes east.

Yes_Really1 karma

Your timeline suggests that you weren't vegitarian/vegan at the time of your Boston marathon, for which you did, conversely, make a good qualifying time. But were for the 100-miler.

Do you think your 100-mile time was negatively impacted by your diet choice? Ie, 28-hours is definitely in the slower range of 100-mile ultras. (seriously asking).

nomeatathlete2 karma

I started transitioning to vegetarian about six months before I qualified for Boston, and had been 100% vegetarian for 3-4 months at the time of the race (Wineglass Marathon in fall 2009).

I have no idea how the diet affected my race results or my training. My general feeling has been that it has helped me make healthier choices and perhaps recover faster than otherwise (at least this is what the elite vegan athletes often cite as their reason), and therefore was part of the reason I was able to complete this race in the first place.

I think race times are affected so much more by genetics than by diet, assuming you're not obese as the result of your diet. I'm not a natural runner (4:53 first marathon, back when I ate meat, is relatively much slower than a 28:40 100-miler). This is totally anecdotal, of course, but if you were going to make a study of how diet affected race times, you'd probably get the most insight from how someone training on a certain diet did, compared to his or her other times on other diets. Certainly not an easy study, though.

In defense of my accomplishment though, I will point out that 263 people started the race and I finished 122nd. Many did not finish, of course. The winner ran something like 14 hours!

Mtnrunner021 karma

What do you use for fuel during a hundred? Aid station food is usually not whole-food or vegan friendly.

nomeatathlete1 karma

Right. I was able to refill my handheld bottle with Heed at aid stations, and also they had lots of watermelon that I ate almost every time. Mostly though, I depended on my crew to give me stuff. Here's a list of what I ate, from my 100-miler recap post:

  • Heed sports drink (about eighteen 20-ounce bottles)
  • 1.5 cups sunflower seeds in shell, cracked in mouth, shells discarded
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 16 fresh dates
  • 20 Newman O’s
  • 3 CLIF Bars
  • Bowl of white rice with soy sauce
  • 1/4 avocado
  • Can of Amy’s No Chicken Noodle Soup with soy sauce
  • Boca burger on bun with BBQ sauce and pickle
  • 1 onion pita with hummus + salt
  • 1 white pita with almond butter + salt
  • 1/2 Amy’s dairy-free bean burrito
  • 5 corn tortillas spread with refried beans
  • 3/4 cup of Snyder’s Veggie Sticks
  • 1/4 cup pita chips
  • 15 slices watermelon
  • 10 ounces black coffee (Counter Culture!)
  • 3 Nuun tabs (added to Heed)
  • 16 ounces soda

MTBSPEC1 karma

Hey Matt. I've been tossing around getting into endurance mountain biking for a while. I have always wanted to do it but haven't really been able to explain to myself why. I sometimes end up convincing myself that all of the pain and suffering is for nothing. Even though I have completed a triathlon and some other events and felt great in the end. When the training gets long and arduous how do you keep yourself motivated? How do you keep the negative thoughts out of your head telling you to quit?

nomeatathlete1 karma

This is a struggle for me. The way I stay motivated is by really, really wanting whatever I'm going after, and if that starts to wane then I know I am done. I know that's not an easy quick-fix motivation hack, but I think it's the most important factor of any. (And a lot of times the answer to a lack of motivation is to go after something bigger.)

Here's a blog post I wrote answering the question, "How to stay motivated?" with 12 different ways I use.

Rugenstat1 karma

I am 5'10" and 140ish pounds, I'm constantly being called too skinny and that I need to eat more. I eat till I'm full every time yet I feel like I can't gain weight, especially when training for a race. What can I do/eat to try and put on a little weight so I don't look like a skinny weak vegan?

nomeatathlete1 karma

I sympathize with you. I don't like being the skinny vegan either, even when I feel healthy that way. But I'm skinny anyway ... the only way I've ever managed to gain weight (even before I was vegetarian or vegan) was when I ate LOTS of fat and completely stopped running (replacing it with heavy lifting, 3 days a week).

Here's an experiment I did where I tried to replicate a successful weight gain in college, but years later and on a vegan diet. It worked, in that I gained something like 17 pounds in 8 weeks. But I had to eat disgustingly ... so much fat and so many calories. I'm sure it wouldn't be healthy long-term.

If you have trouble gaining weight, running makes it harder. One option is to take time off after a race, bulk up with lifting, eating, and not running, and then cycle back and forth. Not sure how healthy that is though.

dhyanna1 karma

I am mostly vegan with the glaring exception of fish.

I'd really love to go all plant, but I just don't seem to get the same energy with beans (I usually eat black or pinto) as I do from tuna, salmon or tilapia, so I end up eating fish 5-7 times a week.

Also, I am very intolerant to gluten, so many of the whole grains are out of bounds.

Any ideas?

nomeatathlete2 karma

Well, I'll start by saying that I don't think a diet that has zero animal products is necessarily healthier than one that has 5% of its calories from animal products, assuming both are based on whole foods. But if you've got another reason for wanting to go all the way (ethical, as an obvious example), then I'd pay attention to Omega-3's and other fatty acids.

You'll replace protein when you substitute beans, but not fatty acids, and that's one of the 3-5 things vegan diets can be lacking in if you're not paying attention or supplementing. Walnuts are a good source; so are flaxseeds and chia seeds. I put all those in my smoothie every day.

Or you can supplement with a few drops in a glass of water or smoothie.

Other than that: small steps. Eliminate the fish one or a few days a week, wait until you can make that work, and then go from there.

PepeTKP1 karma

Considering the success of your blog:

What do you think is the most important factor in marketing a blog?

  • Pepino Rodrigo Serrano Gonzales

nomeatathlete1 karma

Everyone says "write really good content," so I'll take that as a given and not say it. Plus it's not quite marketing.

I'd say it's finding ways to involve other people who can help you. Interview experts (more will agree that you think), do roundup posts where you get a quick tip from 25 experts or (perhaps even better) 25 bloggers with decent-sized audiences, invite other bloggers to guest blog and ask to guest blog for them.

Then ask them, nicely and like a normal person, if they'll help you share it once it's published. Some will, some won't.

Then next time you do something, you'll be in a position to do it a little bit bigger.

mamacarley1 karma

I have been so inspired by your book but started a bit too aggressively for my current level of fitness. I weigh 290 pounds and actually hurt my knee while starting to exercise. What advice do you have for someone like me who has the desire to change but finds it difficulty to follow a beginner running program? Also what is your favorite vegetarian cookbook?

nomeatathlete1 karma

I'd start with walking, and don't overdo even that. Really, do it for two or five minutes or whatever you can manage without feeling like it totally tore down your body. Then keep doing that, daily if possible but taking days off when you need then. And obviously, make sure your doctor agrees that your plan is sound. Assuming you have time and patience, it's much better to start very slow but build a habit you'll still be doing a year from now than it is to make quick progress at the risk of failing.

Favorite vegetarian cookbook: probably Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. Lots of food from all over the world that I had never been exposed to before. Most of the recipes aren't vegan though.

EmbelinaShank1 karma

Hiya, at the moment I only follow your blog and OhSheGlows, I loved your entries on inconvenience and success.

I've been looking into raw diets - is this something you've considered? Emma

nomeatathlete2 karma

I haven't tried raw, but I'm about to. I'm going to the Woodstock Fruit Festival with my family this month and speaking at it and leading a few runs. It's all raw there, so that will by the first time I've ever gone more than 2-3 days raw. This week we're trying a half-raw diet just so there are no surprises.

The people I read tend to say that a diet of about half raw, half cooked vegetables is best, because both have benefits and limitations. That's more up my alley than doing all one or the other.

I love Oh She Glows!

inaction2action1 karma

i heard the shoe choice for ultras is reverting back to a large sole as opposed to a 'barefoot' style. what is your take on what's optimal as far as shoes go, and what is the most popular type shoe out there in ultras right now?

nomeatathlete1 karma

Yeah, it definitely is. Hoka One One's blew up the minimalist movement, and now everybody is doing "maximalist." (I wore Hokas for my 100-miler and I think they are part of the reason I finished, compared to when I tried another shoe at mile 40 or so.)

I think the minimalist movement did a lot of good things, and for most runs I wear zero-drop shoes without a lot of cushioning (but some). But I also think you can run like a barefooter, but do it with shoes on, and get the best of both worlds. The biggest form trick for doing so is taking 180 steps per minutes -- turning your legs over that quickly encourages you take short steps, keep your weight over your feet, and land on your midfoot instead of your heel.

If you can do this, I think a shoe that's pretty neutral and not a big drop from heel to toe is a good bet. And fortunately, Hoka does this in a lot of their shoes -- they're just higher off the ground, and that has proven to be great for ultras, where foot pain is the limiting factor at the end.

As far as I know, Hokas are the most popular ultra shoe. Maybe not among elites, but among the rest of us. (I'm not sponsored by Hoka or anything; I just like the pair I have.)

77chance771 karma

Hi! Love your website!! Would this diet be ideal for me as a high school runner? If so what would be the best way to stick with this considering I don't really cook much for myself? (Family isn't very open minded on veganism either)

nomeatathlete2 karma

If you're family isn't open minded about veganism, then I'd have trouble saying it's the optimal diet for you. Stress is a huge part of health, and if your diet causes that, that's not good. Of course, a lot of vegans have this situation and choose to do so anyway, because it means that much to them.

But let's say you do decide you want to move towards a whole foods, plant-based diet? I'd say that doing small changes at a time is your best approach. Start replacing breakfast with a smoothie, then start adding greens to that smoothie.

Then, once that's comfortable, starting bringing a huge salad with beans and seeds and all kinds of filling, healthy stuff on it to school (try not to get beat up doing so).

Worry about dinner last, because that will be the biggest hurdle. (See what I did there ... high school runner ...) If you're family isn't into then, then you'll have to learn to cook for yourself. Maybe the family would appreciate having food made for them sometimes, even if it's plant-based? There's a book called the Flexitarian Diet that I think has recipes for meals that go both ways, where you add meat at the last minute for those who want it.

Good luck! I'm always inspired by kids who are interested in this diet and in running, since I ignored both until college and later.

khover20021 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. Are there any blogs, podcasts, books that you recommend for new runners and/or new vegans? [aside from your own]

nomeatathlete2 karma

Yeah! Oh She Glows has really great vegan recipes on it. I'm a big fan of Good Form Running -- not a blog, but a very simple approach to running form. The Rich Roll Podcast has lots of good discussions about this lifestyle, not so much instruction but good for inspiration and passing the miles -- here's the episode where I was on. And Strength Running has a lot of good running advice; Jason is a friend of mine (and a really fast runner and coach) and we partner on another site together.