Thursday, December 27, 2007

Does veganism make you a better athlete?

Now I am not talking from a health or nutrition standpoint, but motivationally.
I struggle to call myself an athlete, but in any adventure I do, part of me feels that I am representing veganism and must do well. When I rode my bike cross-country (which ranks pretty low in physical difficulty) years ago I found that a number of people drew conclusions on veganism. 'Well, if you could do that and be vegan it must be okay' or my vegan friends who used me as an example, 'My friend Matt is vegan and he rode his bike cross country!
What do the rest of you think? If someone with an omnivorous diet gets tired at work or DNF's at a marathon no one says, 'maybe it is what s/he is eating.' But if a vegan exhibits either of those suddenly everyone is a nutrition consultant. During some low points on more than a few adventures I've drawn on this to motivate me: Must continue and not let veganism down...
Anyone else?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa as a veggie athlete??

Hmmm.. what do we know about Santa Claus? He eats cookies and drinks milk, so he's not vegan, but he loves and even talks to his reindeer, so presumably he'd have a hard time justifying reindeer steak. Perhaps we can hope he's at least veggie?

I hope you guys and gals all get some Polar Heart Rate Monitors, or new cycling shoes and saddles, or heck, even a brand new road bike for Christmas! (Jenn - what bike did you end up buying when you realized you couldn't get your Jamis?)

Merry Christmas everybody!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Compared to our peers, we're definitely overachievers.

I realized this last weekend. For my temple, I coordinate the running half of a Sunday morning walk/run. We meet up at the Santa Monica Pier at 10 am and walk or run for close to an hour. When I arrived, people were talking about how hard it is to wake up on a Sunday morning to be somewhere at 10 am.

Well, I had already been up for a couple hours and had gone for an hour long bike ride before heading out to the run. But I kept this to myself so that I didn't intimidate anyone.

I'm sure you folks have found yourselves in similar situations.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Iron, Men and Women

So, I recently got a little bit of a slap in the face.  I had some blood work done at the doctor's office, and my iron count came back on the low side - it's still in the normal range, but barely.  I hate to admit this in a public forum because I don't want to accidentally reinforce a stereotype that it's too hard to get necessary nutrients with a vegan diet. I know (and you know) that it's simply not true.  There are plenty of omnivores who are iron deficient, as well, and there are plenty of vegans who aren't.  I did have to swallow my pride a little, because I thought I was doing a pretty job meeting my iron needs. 

I immediately turned to Davis and Melina's book, Becoming Vegan, which is basically my nutritional bible. They write that it's actually quite common for vegans to have iron stores in the low range of normal, noting that having low but normal stores is rarely a problem on its own.  It can, however, become a problem "in the face of iron stresses, for example heavy menstrual losses, illness, or in some parts of the world, hookworm infection."  I suspect heavy training, especially running, places considerable stress on iron stores, as well, right?  Meeting 100% of RDA requirements of iron may not be enough for vegans because, as Davis and Melina point out, "Vegans and other vegetarians may need higher intakes of dietary iron to compensate for the lower bioavailability of iron from plant foods." 

I also learned that spinach, which was accounting for much of my iron intake in the form of green smoothies, is not a useful source of iron because it's high in oxolates that prevent absorption.  On the other hand, combining iron intake with sources of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, can boost absorption.

To raise my iron stores, I'm incorporating more of the following foods into my daily diet.  
- Lentils
- Garbanzo beans/chickpeas
- Navy/pinto/kidney/adzuki beans
- Quinoa
- Pumpkin seeds

What do the rest of you do to meet your iron needs?  Any advice?  I know some of you have had more experience with this than me, and I'd love to hear what you have to say (in comments or as a separate post).

I'll leave you with that question and a couple of recent recipes from my food blog:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

To Gu or Not to Gu

Hey y'all. I'm Christie. I live in South Jersey outside of Philadelphia. I've been running for almost 5mos now. Anyway, I have a question. As my runs get longer, at what point do I need to concern myself with Gu? Or in my case, bananas or something. The thought of Gu kind of scares me (I have a feeling that I won't like the texture). But yeah, when do I need to start wearing fuel belts and carrying sports drinks and carby foods on a run? I ran my first 8 miler on Saturday. I had some water and a banana in the car just in case, but I didn't need it. Any words of wisdom?

Hamstring, anyone?

I'm hoping someone can give me a bit of advice: I managed to pull my hamstring last week and it is a steady, dull, ache. The pull feels deep in the muscle, close to the bone. I've been icing, taking anti-inflammatories, and stretching as best as I can.

Has anyone had any experience with this type of injury before? Any suggestions and advice? Thanks!

If any of you are like me, I'm always looking for a healthier dessert alternative for the holiday. My house will be loaded with family and the thought of loading them up with refined sugar is really unappealing. This is a recipe created as a healthier alternative, and is so beautiful when plated in a martini glass or goblet. Peaches are in short supply in the winter, you can opt for a pear which will turn out just as delicious.

Poached Peaches

4 firm white peaches
1 1/2 cups sugar (you can opt out of the sugar or use 1/2 the amount depending on preference)
1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon
3 Tbsp. berry jam
Vegan whipped cream for garnish (optional)

· Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the peaches and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and peel. Cut in half and remove the stone.
· In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the wine. Bring to a boil.
· Add the peaches and simmer for 30 minutes.
· Remove the peaches and continue to reduce the wine syrup until 1 cup is left. Add the berry jam and simmer for 5 minutes. Return the peaches to the syrup and refrigerate overnight.
· Serve the peaches with some of the wine syrup and a dollop of vegan whipped cream.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, December 7, 2007

My Introduction

Hi all! Well, I am a 28-year-old vegan triathlete from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I have been writing my blog for over a year and started it after I signed up for Ironman Canada in 2006. I finished it this past August and it was a really great, intense, and crazy experience. I have been vegan for almost 6 years and a triahtlete for 5. I was an athlete before, but I definitely had to learn how to be a vegan athlete. I made lots of mistakes at first, but I have pretty much figured it out now thanks to lots of reading, experimentation, and blogging.

Cycling is where my heart is and I commute year-round. I have bicycled across Canada and have done a solo bike tour in British Columbia. I also race mountain bikes and occasionally road bikes, but I'm not as into road as I am into mtb.

Triathlon suits my need for variety. I don't like to focus on any one sport for too long because otherwise I get antsy. That being said, being sporty is not my only hobby. Obviously, nutrition is a hobby of mine and so is injury prevention. I am also very involved in music here in Saskatoon. I have a radio show on the local community radio station here, I go to lots of shows, and I play the guitar. I also knit, crochet, read, write, and do some website design (currently working on developing my vegan triathlete website).

Over the past few months I've dabbled a bit with raw veganism, but found it to be quite unreasonable in our part of the world at this time of year... Currently it's -35 oCelsius with the windchill and eating cold food all the time is just not practical. I am a fairly strict vegan, work in the agriculture sector (the veganism thing really throws people off) working with First Nations farmers, and want to have my own farm someday.

Here is my post-run/bike supper that is super easy and way tasty!
Tofu and Pasta, my favorite meal of all-time
1 small onion
1 package of tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
veggies: carrots, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, etc.
1 jar of pasta sauce
whole wheat pasta, cooked to your preference
Instructions: Start the pasta and fry the onions and tofu on medium heat at the same time. Put in the veggies in order of hardness (ie. carrots go in before zucchini) to avoid over-cooking the veggies. Once the veggies are cooked, put the sauce in and simmer for a couple of minutes adding spices if you want (I used oregano and basil). Drain the pasta, then put the saucy veggies into the pasta and eat it up! Sometimes I eat it straight from the pot because I like to do crazy things like that! You can make this meal as big or as small as you want to. Super tasty, lots of protein, and great for recovery!

So that's me. I'm so glad to have this place to talk about some of the issues that are specific to vegan athletes! :o)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

An introduction (and a recipe)

US Grand Prix of Cyclocross - Trenton, NJ 11/18/07 (photo:

I'd like to thank Jen and everyone else for inviting me to contribute to Sporty Vegans. This is pretty awesome.

I've been vegan since 1999 and racing bikes more or less since 2001, though only seriously since about 2003 or 2004. I specialize in cyclocross and criterium racing, but I dabble in most every discipline of cycling.

My personal blog is not the wolverine and I also run a (very neglected) veg*n cycling blog called VegCycling.

Currently, I'm running the cyclocross team at Rutgers University. We're two-time conference cyclocross champions and headed to the Cyclocross National Championships in Kansas City, KS in about a week!

My sporting interests are primarily in vegan sports nutrition and sports psychology. When I'm not on the bike (or doing the things involved in running a collegiate cycling program), I'm a full time graduate student in English working in the British 18th century.

My goal as a vegan athlete, and particularly one working with younger, developing athletes is to show the viability of the vegan diet in the life of an endurance athlete. While I may not be as fast as I'd like (especially right now), it's not my diet that is limiting me.

Enough about me. Here's a recipe that I posted over on VegCycling for a post-ride recovery smoothie with flax seeds:

8 oz soy milk (I'm fond of vanilla)
1 frozen banana
1/2 C frozen blueberries
1/4-1/2 C frozen strawberries or raspberries
2 Tbs ground flax seed meal

Throw this all in a blender and blend until smooth.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

for those who add chick peas to everything...

Hi everyone, I'd first like to thank Jen for inviting me to be a contributor to Sporty Vegans.

About a year and a half ago I started writing a cycling blog to chronicle a long distance bike commute I was doing up here in Canada. When I went from vegetarian to vegan I began reading lots of horrible stuff about factory farming and the lack of animal cruelty laws, and I started ranting about these issues on my cycling blog until I realized I was probably just pissing off my cycling (and meat-eating) readers, so I started a veggie blog at Veggie Karma.

Full disclosure - I don't eat any sort of meat, or eggs or any dairy, and honey was recently given up, but I have yet to check to see which beers get filtered through fish bones, and which sugars are processed using animal charcoal, so I'm close to full vegan, but not quite there.

Oh yeah - and my "sporty" background is this - I've been a 10km to 1/2 marathon runner, and a duathlete, but these days I can mostly claim to be a bike commuter and jogger who does the local triathlon every summer for fun.

Professionally I'm a university librarian and so I have access to lots of popular and academic material that veggies find interesting - i.e. how much healthier we are than omnivores, the environmental damage that the meat industry causes, etc.

To sign off with today, here are three quick "further reading" ideas for you:

Unhappy Meals, which is a N.Y. Times article about food in general, by Michael Pollan. It even dives into some political background about the influence of the agricultural lobby groups on the food pyramid and nutritional advice put out by the U.S. government.

Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan's book about the origins of a fast food meal, an organic meal, a vegan meal, and a "do it yourself" meal. He traces each food item
from these meals back to their sources, and reveals lots of fascinating stuff about what we put into our mouths.

Breaking the food seduction, this is the book
that made my girlfriend say "Hey let's go Vegan". This one is more of a diet book, and one interesting point is the
author's assertion that going vegetarian is all well and good, but if you really want to get the health benefits, you have to
give up the eggs and dairy as well. The author is also the director of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
The PCRM, as this story relates, has done things like "ask the USDA to have a biohazard label attached to chicken meat warning consumers that the chicken is likely contaminated with feces and therefore foodborne pathogens such as salmonella, E. Coli and others."

P.S. - Regarding Heather's question regarding gastrointestinal upset, I'm sorry to say that I have no advice on that one!

A little about me

Hi everyone! I'm Corey of Running-Crazy. A long time vegetarian (13 years) and 3 year vegan I've just recently taken up the sport of triathlon. Although I've been a runner for quiet some time. I work in the food industry so I'm always cooking up some vegan dish. I tend to focus on whole foods over processed but that is just a personal preference. There are a lot of tasty faux meats on the market that meet many nutritional needs.

Being vegan and an endurance athlete go hand in hand. The high carbohydrate diet lends itself well to performance. Most of the people I speak with ask about protein. Do I get enough? What do I eat? Surely I must eat dairy! Protein is such an easy component to integrate into your diet. There are a variety of delicious vegan protein bars, soy/hemp protein shakes, mock meats, in addition to the traditional plant proteins: beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and nuts. If you think about it, most things we consume have a little bit of protein in them. Toss some cannelloni beans on a salad, spread some hummus on a bagel, or dress your stir-fry with a peanut sauce. Easy and delicious. Here's one of my favorite post-hard workout meals (a great combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats)

Quinoa & Tempeh Tabouli

For the Braising Liquid:
4 cups vegetable stock
1 piece kombu
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. crushed black peppercorns

1 package tempeh, cut on a bias into bite sized pieces
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cup chopped cauliflower
1/4 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. malt vinegar
1/2-1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

· Combine all of the ingredients for the braising liquid in a medium stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the tempeh and simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Remove from heat.
· Put the quinoa in a fine sieve and place under cold running water, gently rubbing with your hands, for a few minutes or until the water runs clear.
· In a small pot combine the quinoa, water and 1/2 cup of the braising liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is translucent and all of the liquid is absorbed.
· In a large bowl combine the quinoa, tempeh, vegetables, oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat.

Makes 4-6 servings

Monday, December 3, 2007

A little Meltdown

In response to a tri club thread titled "The Meat Thread", I had a little meltdown.

Here is what I wrote:

I think living to any absolute standard is nearly impossible.

Many vegans I know define the lifestyle as "making a reasonable effort to avoid using animal products". Nothing human is %100.

We live in a society that has used animal products as far back as time has been recorded. Living without animal products can be a great challenge. You have to be very mindful and inquisitive about everything you use. Even then, an animal product will find its way into your life. Maybe mom gives you a leather wallet, or you find out that your beer was filtered with fish bones.

Vegan is not a religion or political party. It is a word used to define a personal choice in diet and lifestyle.
Some of us don't think using animal products is a necessity any longer. Others can't imagine life with out it.
At one time in my life I couldn't imagine life without cigarettes. I also could not imagine finishing an Ironman. Today I can.
For me reducing my impact on the suffering of others is worth what ever effort I am able.

Where I'm Coming From

Hi everyone,

I also wanted to post a little introduction, though most of you know at this point know me from the VegTriathlete blog.  I'm a back-to-middle of the pack age group athlete who's been vegan for about three years now.  

I've been so committed to making my training and vegan nutrition visible online because the primary reason that it took me so long to go vegan was my mistaken belief that a vegan diet couldn't fuel an active lifestyle.  I'd always admired the ethics of the vegans I knew, but I believed veganism was impractical. While I've never been an athletic superstar by any means,  I used the fact I was a long distance runner as an excuse to continue to eat meat and animal products.  It wasn't until I started dating a raw vegan that I learned anything about nutrition.  He introduced me to books like The China Study and Eat to Live; they debunked a lot of the myths I had bought into about protein and calcium sources.  

I also learned about professional vegan athletes who were achieving remarkable results-- people like Brendan Brazier and Scott Jurek.  I thought, well, if they can accomplish what they're able to do, then surely I can fuel my relatively meagre athletic pursuits on a similar diet.  Elite athletes like those two are powerful role models for veganism, but I think it's also important to make visible the non-professional age-group athletes--the everyday people with average genetics who are balancing full-time jobs/school/life and athletic training.  Because, really, once I made the switch to veganism, the thing that most surprised me was how good I felt.  I have to say, from a physical standpoint, the transition was really quite easy.  I feel healthier and stronger as a vegan than I did as an omnivore, and I hope our collective example will be useful to others who considering choosing a vegan lifestyle.

That said, questions about nutrition and training do arise from time to time. I'm envisioning this blog as a way to share these questions and then draw from the value of our collective experiences.  Among us so far we have athletes ranging from short & long-course triathletes, cyclocross racers, and runners; in addition to our athletic pursuits, we work in fields including diet & menu consultations, cardiology, music and writing (to name just a few).  There's a certain kind of power in numbers, and I look forward to making our presence known!

I hope people will feel free to post and respond as frequently as they'd like.  There's no set format - write about whatever you want.  As I mentioned before, if you know other vegan athletes, invite them to join the discussion.  Thanks everyone for the initial positive response to the idea :-)



This is a great idea!

Jen, I love this blog idea!!

Hello everyone, my name is Heather Shenkman. I'm a 32 year-old cardiologist living in Los Angeles. I've been doing triathlons for a little over two years. I have a blog called VeganHeartDoc, where I talk about medicine, heart disease, vegan diets, and my triathlon training.

My goal for this year is to complete my first half-ironman race, Vineman 70.3 on July 20, 2008. Yesterday, I ran the City of Angels Half Marathon.

So here's the first question for the blog: For longer distance races, do any of you have any suggestions of how to keep from getting gastrointestinal upset during the race? Yesterday my stomach felt awful halfway through the race and even for the four or five hours after finishing. Ideas??? I would hate for this to happen during my 70.3.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Leave the cheese and eggs off my plate

While trying to cope with being in a minority during a tri club online discussion about deer hunting and meat, I was feeling abit outnumbered and uncomfortable with some of the other triathletes I train with.
Jen(Veg*Triathlete) suggested we start a blog group for vegan athletes. Jen set it up, and here we are.

I think as vegan athletes united, we can begin demanding race directors to provide vegan options at our events. While doing Ironman UK, I was given powerbars(not Vegan), and offered only animal products post race. The awards banquet caterer provided no vegan meals the following day. I was forced into a very difficult decision having had no proper meal since completing my race.

Coming in August, Jen and I will be doing the Steelhead 70.3. Again, pre-race dinners do not accommodate the vegan amongst us. These races cost a lot.
I don't think it is asking to much to leave the cheese and eggs off my plate.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Welcome Sporty Vegans!

There are so many great vegan sports bloggers out there now. I'm hoping this group blog can serve as an online place for us to pool our experience and resources to exercise our critical mass! See a story in the media about a vegan athlete? Share it. Got questions about training and nutrition? Ask & share information. Got a kick-ass recipe for a recovery smoothie? Let the world know about it.

Got sporty vegan friends? Invite them to the party :-)