I am not a vegan. I am not a distance runner. While I am excited for my friend Matt Fraizer and all his successes, I have to admit, when I visited his blog to find out when his awesome tour around the country to promote his new book, No Meat Athlete, would be visiting Oakland, I wanted to support him as a friend, not as a follower of his plan.
I’m from Texas, and I love meat. I’m a rock climber and I hate distance running (or running for more than 20 minutes in general), but after hearing Matt tell his personal story at our local Whole Foods Market this week — one that starts with a college kid running a marathon in 4 hours and 53 minutes on a whim and ends with him standing in a room full of fans hanging on his every word as he talks about training for a 50 mile ultramarathon — I must say, I’m inspired.
Matt calls himself a “regular person” rather than an elite athlete, and that’s what’s great about his approach to nutrition, to running, to cooking, to living in a world where there’s more to do than cook, eat, and run. His message is accessible and interesting. He says that “running is a fast way for ordinary people to do extraordinary things” — like running a marathon. I love that approach to life, and hearing Matt speak sparked in me an interest in the possibility of attempting another half marathon some day (after swearing them off forever a few years back).
Matt provides a great story for why going vegan has worked so well for him, but he doesn’t say that it’s the absolute only way to be healthy. The No Meat Athlete approach to food is actually not far off from what we’ve been promoting here on this blog. Passport to a Healthy Me! encourages a whole foods, nutrient-dense diet, and with the exception of the occasional use of meat, eggs, and dairy on this site, our approaches are basically the same — eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible, eat a variety of foods, and move away from the Standard American Diet.
That being said, Matt makes a great argument for veganism — for him, being vegan makes it easier for him to pass by the McDonald’s than it was when he was an omnivore. It’s forced him to make better choices, to try new things in the produce section, to be creative in the kitchen, and to increase the number of different foods he eats each week from what he says was between 15 and 20 as an omnivore to between 50 and 75 as a vegan. Pretty impressive! (Incidentally, I felt the same way when I went gluten-free. MacDonald’s wasn’t my problem as much as cookies and sweets were though)
As for the running advice, Matt encourages folks to start small, establish a daily trigger, make it fun, to record and reward, and to make one change at a time. He teaches proper running technique and makes the argument that if you can run as you were meant to run, gaining distance over time won’t be a problem. Hard to believe, but if you check out the book and the blog, you might be surprised at what “regular people” do every day.
I’m excited to dive more deeply into the No Meat Athlete book and philosophy myself to see what changes I can make to put me on the path to do extraordinary things. I encourage you to pick up a copy and peruse the blog for more info on running and some great recipes too!