When I explain my vegan diet to other runners, I try to get them to think about what I eat rather than what I do not eat - because that’s how I look at it.
Many runners eliminate items from their diet without finding healthy alternatives, resulting in a drop in health and performance. I focus on eating whole, plant-based foods. These include: healthy fats, whole grains, legumes, soy protein (via tempeh, tofu, and miso), nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. I eat organic foods as much as possible, usually 80 to 90 per cent of my diet, and over the last few years, I’ve been trying to eat more locally grown, seasonal foods.
Endurance athletes, including vegans and vegetarians, should not be afraid of healthy fats. They are just as essential as carbohydrates for optimal performance and recovery. Protein is important, too, but many vegans could meet the 10-15 per cent protein requirement for endurance athletes if they met their caloric requirement (quantity) and included fewer processed foods (quality).
Scott Jurek’s Tips for Vegans and Omnivores
1. Focus on quantity of calories no matter what type of diet, and then work on improving the quality of the calories.
2. Incorporate rather than eliminate: Include high-quality whole foods to optimize the calories you consume. Grab the whole foods and then ditch the junk foods.
3. A natural boost: A huge benefit of a vegan or vegetarian diet is it will naturally encourage the inclusion of higher-quality foods.
4. Explore new foods. Part of the fun and challenge of a vegan and vegetarian diet is the introduction of new foods.
5. Ease into it: Try going vegetarian or vegan once or twice a week or maybe just start with one or two meals per week.
6. Go local and organic: If your diet already includes whole foods, step it up a notch by eating more organic and locally grown foods. Get out and explore the farmer’s markets in your area.
7. Put your money where your mouth is: Eating organic, whole foods does not have to be expensive. Put your dollars in fresh produce and bulk foods. The less packaged food you eat, the more you will save, and the quality of your diet will increase.
8. Get in the kitchen: The key to quality nutrition is doing more food prep and cooking. Experiment with new foods. Cooking can be simple - you don’t have to be a master chef.
9. Plan ahead for meals and recovery mini meals. Pack a lunch and plan meals with a grocery list so the kitchen is stocked with essentials, and food is ready to go when you need it.
10. Make the most of your cooking time. Yes, it does take some time to prepare food, but it doesn’t have to take too much time. Prepare extra food so you have leftovers for lunches and the next day’s dinner.
11. Embrace food prep. I find it a very relaxing time of my day (although I admit it can be hard to motivate yourself to cook when you’re tired from a long day). It’s also very rewarding to know that you’re putting the time and energy into the food that keeps your body fuelled for running. Think of cooking as part of your training.
Check out the entire article, he lists a sample day of his intake as well as recipes.