vegansaurus!

06/13/2012

Book review: Scott Jurek’s “Eat & Run” Plus, run with Scott today!  »


This dude running with his dog is Scott Jurek. Scott Jurek could basically kick your ass any day of the week, including days where he hasn’t slept the night before, has a broken ankle, and already ran 75 miles. See, Scott is an ultramarathoner, which means he’ll run a marathon as a warmup, then run another one, then figure that the race is just getting started. He’ll run over mountains and through lightning storms and never stop. “Hallucinations and vomiting, to me and my fellow ultrarunners,” he says, “are like grass stains to Little Leaguers.” Shit yeah, that shit’s for real. Oh yeah, by the way, just in passing, he’s vegan, and has been essentially the whole time he’s been doing this. (!!!!)

Scott, you’re my new hero, I love you! Thank you for writing this book so we can all learn about how amazing you are!

Scott’s publisher sent me a copy of Eat & Run and I was like, “Hey, I kinda like running, I’ll check that out,” despite David Foster Wallace having brilliantly explained, athlete memoirs are pretty much guaranteed to suck. I was prepared to read two pages, tell y’all the book existed, and move on.

Except the book is good! I kept wanting to read it! I read two chapters out loud in the car and my husband wanted me to keep going, even though I was gonna puke because the road got curvy! (See, right there, you can tell I’m not an ultra-athlete: I avoid things that make me puke). I wanted to read the book so much that I almost posted this review too late because I wanted to finish it first!

Too late for what, you ask? FOR YOUR CHANCE TO MEET SCOTT JUREK! 

Wednesday, June 13 (that’s today!!) in San Francisco:

  • 7 to 8 p.m.: Fun run with Scott at Fleet Feet San Francisco, 2076 Chestnut St.
  • 8 to 9 p.m.: Eat & Run Experience with Scott at Fleet Feet

Check out his full calendar of events; he’s in L.A. soon, and San Diego, and he’s even coming to Colorado a couple times, though on days I can’t be there, BUMMER

Even if you’re not a runner, you should totally go meet this dude. He’s just amazing. And inspiring. I literally got off the couch after reading this book for two hours, put on my shoes, and set off into the sweltering heat the weekend before last, because Scott made me want to.

Oh, one other thing about his book? It’s got recipes. Here’s one that’s also on his website. I haven’t tried any of them, but even if they suck I’m still gonna love him. 


Green Power Pre-Workout Drink

Hippie Dan first taught me the importance of greens like spirulina and wheatgrass. Spirulina is a green algae said to have been carried into battle by Aztec warriors. Used for centuries as a weight-loss aid and immune-booster, it has lately been studied and shown promising results as a performance enhancer for long-distance runners. Because spirulina is marketed as a dietary supplement rather than a food, the FDA does not regulate its production; buy it only from a health food store and a brand you trust.

Packed with protein (spirulina is a complete protein) and rich in vitamins and minerals, this smoothie is an excellent source of nutrition. For a little extra carbohydrate boost, replace 1 cup water with 1 cup apple or grape juice.

2 bananas
1 cup frozen or fresh mango or pineapple chunks
4 cups water
2 teaspoons spirulina powder
1 teaspoon miso

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend for one to two minutes, until the mixture is completely smooth. Drink 20 to 30 ounces (2 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups) 15 to 45 minutes before a run.

03/01/2012

Ask a Vegansaur: Vol. 06  »


Hello, it’s me, your Vegansaur, offering somewhat solicited opinions that may or may not reflect those of the Vegansaurus writers and editors!

Dian asks: I did the Cancer Research UK “Relay for Life” two years ago, and since then I’ve gone vegan. I’ve just been asked to join a team this year, and I agreed—until I realised, wait a minute. Research. Animal testing. According to their website, they only test on animals when they absolutely have to, as a last resort, and they no longer use monkeys, or dogs, or anything like that. But they do still test on animals. At the same time, they do amazing work. I don’t know what to do! It’s a lose-lose situation, I’ll feel awful if I do it, and money I raise goes towards testing on animals; and I’ll feel awful if I say “No, actually, I can’t help you raise money, because I’m vegan.” I realise there are other cancer research charities that do not test on animals, but CRUK is the main one here. I don’t know what to do.

Oh, Dian, my heart breaks for you. First, good on you for running. That is an exercise I cannot do; I get shin splints immediately. But moving on: I know how it feels to have to weigh one evil against another. You could say that the main point of this column is, “Hey, at least we’re trying,” and I’m going to offer a variation of that here. I did some digging, and while you’re right about CRUK being predominant in your corner of the world, there are a few other options to hit the pavement and raise money benefiting people who have cancer. Many charities do not fund research but rather promote awareness, support, and care for people with cancer, none of which involves animal testing. I know it’s not the same as cancer research, but it seems that you’d be hard pressed to find cancer research that does not test on animals; hell, stateside it’s hard to find cancer charities that don’t hate women and their ladybusiness! That might be a good compromise. This is what I would do if I were in your running shoes. Here is a big fat list. Good luck!

Patty asks: I had a “friend” ask me what I couldn’t help but feel was a really “weird” question. He asked how vegans can really consider themselves vegan since, as he put it, “Vegetables are grown in animal sh*t.” He was totally asking this question in the vein of “catching” me in some way, and it was more of a statement question. I could not answer him. I thought that I could go look up and learn about fertilizers and growing, but then I thought I’d ask you what you think, know, etc., both about the fertilizer aspect, but also, how I maybe could have responded to this.

Yeesh, Patty, this is a rough one, quite the dilemma, yesiree. My research is inconclusive, but I do know that people who feel threatened by our dietary choices try to make themselves feel better by pointing out what they see as inconsistencies. There are “veganic" veggies—those grown without any animal products whatsoever. My response to a question like that, quite frankly, would be, "Go fuck yourself," but in more eloquent terms, it would be something along the lines of, "If you go to that level of commitment and compassion in your diet, then we can talk about where the fertilizer used to grow my vegetables comes from. Sucka.” [Ed. note: I’d also like to add that being vegan is about doing as little harm to animals as possible. It’s not about being perfect!]

Matthew asks (via Twitter, @mattheworbit): Omnis have a prob with us giving non-vegan names to vegan food items. How should we get around this?

As Jenny Bradley put it, “Omnis have another problem with us?” Yes, it’s true, the list of problems people think they have with vegans is never-ending. In this case, we don’t have any sort of burden of proof; we don’t have to get around it. Half the time we put a disclaimer in there anyway, right? “Tofu dog,” “soy yogurt,” etc. If omnis don’t like what we’re calling our food, they can shove off; there are a lot more important issues to worry about than renaming seitan barbecue wings something that omnis are more comfortable with. Because you know our lives and dietary choices are primarily to make others comfortable, right? Christ, I can’t stand this kind of bullshit. Omnis can call their pile of chicken nuggets “kale salad” if they want. I don’t give a fuck, so long as I don’t have to eat it.

Want to Ask a Vegansaur a question? Email me, and try not to be a jerk!

[Photo credit: John Baxter via Flickr]

07/06/2011

Vegansaurus does an Organic Avenue juice cleanse!  »

Last week I embarked on a five-day Organic Avenue Lovedeep juice cleanse. I did it for a number of reasons: I wanted to “reset” my body and system after developing some bizarre and detrimental habits (daily venti coffee, unreasonable affinity for sugar and candy, pigging out at night and not eating anything in the morning, etc.); I wanted to observe the effect it had on my body and my training regimen (muay Thai, running, Bikram yoga, four jobs); and of course sheer curiosity. I consulted with the folks at OA and told them my intention was to maintain my usual life/training schedule during the cleanse, and after their approval, I booked the dates and kept my fingers crossed. I went to the pick-up location near my office on Monday and picked up a big silver box of fresh-pressed fruit and veggie juices. Inside were six 16-oz. fresh juices and one chlorophyll shot, my food for the day. Organic Avenue also sent me a daily email explaining the benefits of each juice, and offering a suggested drinking schedule and words of encouragement.

I didn’t finish the juices; I couldn’t stomach all of that juice every day. And since I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t necessarily need them. I’d usually keep them and enjoy them the following day, and I have three leftover juices now that the cleanse is over, which I definitely intend to drink before returning my bottles! The juices themselves ranged from totally scrumptiously delicious—orange, ginger lemonade, grapefruit, pear—to borderline undrinkable—chlorophyll shot, Young Love (spinach/celery/cucumber). Pick-up/drop-off was easy, the staff was cheerful and accommodating, and the simplicity of the whole process really made it run smoothly.

Day 1
The first day was the toughest; my moods swung like crazy and I was impatient and irritable for most of the afternoon/night. I had a brutal headache from Starbucks withdrawal, craved salt, and generally felt unlike myself. I made it through the workday without too much drama, but that evening’s seven-mile run was undoubtedly tougher than usual, and I realized I’d need to take it easier in the gym over the week. With no carbs in my system I wasn’t my usual Energizer Bunny self. I got home from the gym that night and passed out on my bed before I could even take my shoes off.

Day 2
I was definitely a little out of it when my alarm went off, but I packed up for the gym and sipped a cucumber juice on the way. Muay Thai class wasn’t too bad, though again I noticed my stamina wasn’t up to par. The following run, this time five miles, wasn’t as rough as the previous day’s, but I was huffing and puffing more than usual. Once at work I was actually feeling good; though still a bit foggy I was in better spirits and enjoyed the juices. I wasn’t nearly as cranky or tired when I got home, though I still slept like a rock.

Day 3
I woke up feeling decent, made it to work and coasted through what was to be the best overall day of my cleanse—no hunger pangs, no headache, no mood swings, decent energy throughout the day—I’d even say I was chipper! There was an orange juice on the menu that day, and after living on spinach, orange juice is the GREATEST THING EVER. I felt like I was cheating! Feeling great, I made it into the gym that night and blasted through five rounds of full-contact sparring and an advanced conditioning class. I felt tired when I got home, but that’s normal for me on a Wednesday night.

Day 4
I woke up feeling clear-headed and was off to the gym. I took it easy in muay Thai, having noticed a significant drop in my stamina and endurance, but I made it through just the same. My run was, again, grueling: I took walk breaks and was certainly not as fast as usual. Though my patience was wearing a little thin at this point, my mood was good. Work was busy and I stayed focused through the day, and enjoyed the delicious grapefruit juice. Into the evening, I was having elaborate, borderline-romantic food fantasies; I missed my precious food! Got home that night a little grumpy, but as usual passed the heck out swiftly.

Day 5
While I generally sleep until about 1 or 2 p.m. on my Fridays off, this time I was wide awake soon after 11 a.m. Feeling great, I got ready to run some errands and packed a few juices along with me in my gym bag. I made it through the day feeling really good; my energy was up, I felt clear and enthusiastic and focused, and my body felt rejuvenated from the good night’s sleep. When I started that night’s training, however, everything changed. My run was dismal; I could barely keep it up for more than five minutes at a time, taking frequent walk breaks and watching other runners leave me in the dust. Muay Thai was equally pathetic; though I made it through three hours of training, I felt like I didn’t have a shred of life left in me. I got home that night and did my best to get a juice down as fast as possible before passing out.

Breaking the Fast
OA sent me an email with directions for my first day after the fast: I could eat as much as I wanted of one fruit of choice, and enjoy a big green salad for lunch and another for dinner, adding some roasted veggies if I so desired. I had some water, then enjoyed CRUNCHING into an organic Fuji apple before heading to the gym again. That day’s training was the worst of them all—I barely survived the run, and opted for a beginner muay Thai class. Even still, I was wiped out by the end and couldn’t wait to get home for my salad. I took a quick nap before I ate, and truly enjoyed every forkful of greens and tomatoes and beets and kale. It felt so good - almost scandalous!—to chew mouthfuls of food again.

I made it through five days of juicing without any major adjustments in my work/life/training schedule. I didn’t cheat once, I followed my plan, and I feel great. Though my stamina and endurance in the gym were significantly lower, my energy levels were the same and I really wasn’t tempted to cheat very often. Hunger was never a problem—if I craved food it was its flavor, texture, familiarity. My skin never broke out like crazy and my digestive system didn’t react too violently at all. I’m so glad I had the experience and I feel pretty great. I learned so much about my body and the fuel I put into it, the importance of complex carbohydrates and balanced proteins, the benefits of a raw organic diet, and how fuel affects mood. I am excited to make changes to my old habits. No, I won’t be cutting caffeine out of my life—I am a sincere and dedicated coffee-LOVER—but it will be decaf for the most part. When I crave something sweet I’ll opt for organic pineapple or fresh berries instead of Twizzlers and Swedish Fish. And I’ll fuel my body on a more regular basis rather than that abusive binge-and-starve pattern. This was an incredible, educational, rejuvenating experience and I can absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in a kick-start to good habits. Organic Avenue offers many different levels of cleansing, and supports you the whole way through. If I can do it, anyone can: you just have to want to!

[Organic Avenue provided me a five-day cleanse free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. You can order your own cleanse on their website or by calling 212-358-0500. First image via Organic Avenue. Also, check out how Maria did on the Blueprint Cleanse. Vegan cleanses galore, people! Now, back to your regularly scheduled binging!]

01/28/2011

Shelter dogs make the best running buddies!  »


Another day, another tearjerker from Philly! Well, this one probably won’t make you cry but it’s super-adorbs. The Monster Milers is an organization in Philadelphia that hooks runners up with shelter dogs so they can go jogging together! For the dogs, getting regular exercise and companionship can be the thing that keeps them sane during their shelter days. For the people, Monster Milers say dogs are great running buddies because they are good motivators and they also keep you safe when you go running at night—Philly’s a rough town! But if you were jogging with a cute bully, nobody would mess with you! That’s my word.

Monster Milers encourages adoption in general but more specifically they target the running community. Nice strategy! And I bet if someone goes jogging with a dog a few times, it’s REALLY hard not to end up bringing it home. I mean, look at Chicken Dumpling! RIDICULOUS.

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