What Do Vegan Runners Eat?
Will I have enough energy to fuel my sport? Will I have enough protein intake? Will my body repair sufficiently? How will this affect my diet? These are all questions that spring to mind when considering a vegan diet whilst also being a keen runner. Read more to find out what vegan runners eat…
What do Lewis Hamilton, Venus Williams, Scott Jurek and a Stegosaurus have in common?
Well, if a Stegosaurus partook in some sort of high-performance sporting event in the age of the dinosaur, then you could say that you’re looking at a very impressive line-up of elite athletes across F1, tennis, ultrarunning and said dinosaur event. However, you’d also be right in thinking that they are all plant-based (which is the common denominator we were looking for.)
The plant-based lifestyle is on the rise and figures show that around the world, there are around 80 million* people who are leading a vegan diet. While this still only equates to around 2% of the population, from 2014-2019, the number of vegans in the UK alone quadrupled, so there’s reason to believe that the world is changing.
But a plant-based diet in the context of sport can feel somewhat less appealing. Will I have enough energy to fuel my sport? Will I have enough protein intake? Will my body repair sufficiently? How will this affect my diet?
A vegan athlete
As an athlete myself and a vegan of only 18 months, I too had similar questions and concerns, but with a bit of time, planning and research in the early stages, there isn’t any reason to believe that a plant-based diet has had any such negative effect on my performance and lifestyle as a runner.
So, what does a diet actually look like as a vegan runner?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist and am not providing advice on what should be consumed as part of a balanced lifestyle. These are purely here for some ideas and inspiration to kick-start your plant-based journey
Before I go into the delicious plant-based menu, a vegan lifestyle may take some time to adapt, so you may want to first consider where you can make some smaller switches before taking animal-based products out of your diet completely, such as protein bars or powders perhaps. More and more brands are producing some fantastic alternatives that provide similar tastes, textures, and nutritional benefits.
My personal favourite meal of the day and sets me up for what is usually a day of running or cycling (oh and my day job)
Protein porridge / overnight oats
- Dairy-free milk of choice
- Vegan protein powder scoops
- Peanut butter
Avocado on toast
- Choice of bread
- Smashed avocado with squeeze of lemon
- Chilli flakes if you’re feeling wild
- Mashed banana
- Dairy-free milk of choice (I’d go oat milk for this)
- Bit of protein powder does help to thicken but not imperative
- Throw some fruit on top afterwards with maple syrup
Falaffal and hummus wrap
- Hummus – chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil
- Tortilla wrap
- Spinach leaves
Wrap it up and pop under the grill for an extra buzz of excitement
This is just a resounding yes for me, because you can basically take anything and turn it to pulp
- Carrot and parsnip
- Cauliflower and pea
- Onion and lentil
- Butternut squash
The humble baked potato. It’s an absolute winner! (Just make sure the add-ons are also vegan…)
Tofu and Cashew Spaghetti
Now, I don’t mean to brag, but this is what I call my “convert dish” and is my absolute favourite discovery since going vegan. It’s also ready so quickly because it’s predominantly a one-stop swoosh in the blender to make the sauce and in it goes with the veg and spaghetti!
- Tofu (~140g)
- Cashews (40-50g)
- Oat Milk (~150ml)
- Nutritional yeast (as much as you need for thickness)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Fresh tomatoes
Veggie stew and butterbean mash
- Chopped tomatoes
- Paprika / Cumin / Turmeric
- Mashed butterbeans with a bit of water (add vegan pesto too – you’re welcome)
You’ll be surprised at the number of options out there:
- Peppers with rice
- Butternut Squash with quinoa
- Sweet potato with vegan mince
- Mushrooms with vegan cheese and rocket
A more recent discovery but jackfruit makes a great alternative to the texture of pulled pork
- Jackfruit with peppers and fajita spices
- Smashed avocado
- Vegan cheese
- Tortilla wraps
Think BBQ vegetables on a stick with rice. Easy! Some homemade baba ghanoush (cooked aubergine and tahini) is a great dipping addition.
- Pizza base / Tortilla wraps
- Choice of toppings
- Coconut Milk
- Sugar snaps
- Curry spices
For the most part, leading a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean having to compromise on your nutritional intake entirely. Yes, there may be high nutritional gains in smaller quantities when consuming meat products, however, vegan supplements can most definitely be considered for this. I personally consume 2 x Vegan Multivitamins per day alongside 1 x Vegan Omega tablet.
My recovery and ability to continue training to a high intensity never feels compromised and we’re exceptionally lucky to be living in a time where brands are increasingly bringing out some fantastic vegan products that are the real deal. The vegan cheese market needs some work, but I’m hopeful we’ll get there.
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