How did I go from plump to vegan? With a new year approaching, my mind begins to wonder back to the way things were at the beginning of 2012. Just 12 short months ago, I made a decision that would forever change my life. Heeding the advice of a good friend, I adopted a plant-based diet, hoping that it would propel my running career. I wasn’t worried about the welfare of animals, reducing my carbon footprint, or even minimizing my risk of heart-attack. My only concern was running – faster, farther, and more often. Looking back now, I know that I got WAY more than I bargained for.
A Plethora of Benefits
Not only do I feel great, look great, and perform better than ever, but I’ve gained a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. Veganism has taught me about myself, the earth, and how the two of us connect. And this understanding has allowed me to delve deeper into a more spiritual way of life. I truly went from plump to vegan.
Another thing that I’ve gained from adopting a plant-based (vegan) diet is a sense of community. Not necessarily in everyday life, but with the wonderful people I’ve met online. With communities like No Meat Athlete and Meat Free Athlete, and using social media, friends are always just a click away.
I even created a plant-based running community so that my running friends and I would have a regular place to meet up. We chat every Sunday night on Twitter at 9ET using the hashtag #vegrunchat. Having these online friends has been a great way to keep focused and continue growing. Actually, I don’t refer to these folks as “friends” anymore – they’re family.
The greatest part of life today is the ability to help others. Everyday, there are hundreds of people making the switch to a plant-based diet. And often they make their way to Forks to Feet, or VegRunChat, searching for answers. Even after a year, I still get excited when I see someone ask if running on a vegan diet is possible. Not because I get to help, but because that person’s life is getting ready to change drastically. Usually within weeks, I hear back from them telling me how much of a difference they’ve noticed – on the scales, and on the pavement. And the beautiful part? They become little messengers themselves, promoting healthy choices to even more people, making this world a much better place!
What Running Means Today
In the past, running was just another means of losing weight and reducing stress. But, over the last year, I’ve learned to love running. And today I use it to: stay healthy, reduce stress, meet friends, compete, solve problems, experience nature, meditate, find inner peace, etc. It has pretty much become a way of life. And I can’t imagine life without it. Running has really helped me go from plump to vegan.
I also achieved several running milestones in 2013. I ran a total of five races; a half marathon, a full marathon, and three 5Ks. I PR’d during the Dasani Half Marathon with a time of 1:35:07. It wasn’t blazing fast, but 4 minutes faster than my previous record. I also ran my fastest 5K with a time of 19:48. My total mileage covered in 2012? A whopping 1,175 miles, burning over 175,000 calories! Although these race times (and stats) are great, I achieved something else that was far more beneficial to my overall running career – I learned how to be injured.
In late summer, I developed a nerve injury which caused drop foot syndrome. It wasn’t due to running, but it did affect my ability to run. During my downtime, I learned how to take care of my body to ensure speedy recovery. I also developed a LOT of patience. The key thing I took away from this experience is that we must take care of ourselves today, to ensure our ability to run tomorrow. Don’t run a race just because you’re signed up for it. Take a look at the big picture, and don’t push yourself too hard. It’s okay to be injured, even if you are a plant-powered athlete. 😉
Goals for 2014
So what’s in store for 2014? I have 6 running and nutritional goals already in place for the New Year:
- Run a 5K in under 19:30
- Run a total of 1,500 miles
- Tackle my first ultra marathon (50+ miles)
- Remove all added sugar from my diet
- Reduce my use of caffeine
- Begin cooking without oil
I feel that we always have room to grow, and that setting goals is a great way to make dreams come true. If I ever begin to think that I’m “perfect,” I will surely stop growing. And for me, growing is what life is all about. With the help of my new family, and my reliance on God, I know that everything I set out to do is within reach. That is my story of how I went from plump to vegan.
If you are interested in learning more about my transition into a plant-based (vegan) diet, and how I use it to boost my running, I invite you to pick up a copy of my eBook. It’s completely free, and could help you to have the best year of your life.
What an amazing year you've had Brandon! Congrats on all that you've achieved. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for you.
Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2014!
I just mentioned you in my own 2013 year in review… you introduced me to the film Forks Over Knives and now it's been 65 days since I had any meat or dairy. That sounds like so few days… actually… because I can't imagine going back. I'm in that "newbie enthusiast" phase where I want to approach everyone in the Whole Foods shopping line who has meat, dairy or eggs in their cart and give them pamphlets about the Forks Over Knives documentary. If everyone knew how important it was for our health, our environment, AND animal welfare, wouldn't everyone make the change? Sure, I had to learn to cook differently, and it's not always convenient when we're on the road or visiting family. I'm at a huge advantage because I'm the one who cooks in my household, and my children are so young they didn't even notice. I realize I have it easy, and I'm grateful… but I wish everyone knew how important it was and how much better they would feel, because it's worth becoming a whole foods, plant-based eater even if it's hard.
I also want to cut out oils in my cooking – I'm learning to use the Engine 2 "wet sautee" method for things, and I largely don't notice the absence of the oils. They're great to keep things from sticking, but with whole foods flavor power houses like garlic, onion, cilantro, etc., I don't need oils for my cooking to taste great. Better yet, I never feel queasy after I eat anymore. I don't even have to wait as long to run.
This was intended to be a short comment… now I feel like I'm writing a blog post on your blog in the comments section – hah!
Anyway – Happy New Year, thanks for the #vegrunchat community, it's been a huge source of support.
Hah, I'm glad you elaborated Kelly. I'm so glad that you've become just as enthusiastic as I have. It's been a wonderful journey, and meeting great people like yourself makes it even more fun. If it weren't for the online community, I may have doubted the entire idea of plant-based eating, seeing as my local community is full of omnivores.
I'm heading over to your blog next to check out your article. I love hearing about transformations, and seeing how people are making progress in their lives. I'm so happy that #vegrunchat has become a source of motivation, help, and fun for all of us. It's been great meeting new veg eaters each week, and talking about the benefits of running on a plant-based diet.
Have a very Happy New Year!
Thanks, Anna. You've become a great friend, and someone I can turn to when I need motivation. I appreciate all that you do and look forward to sharing many more memories with you. Have an awesome New Years!
Love the way you set your goals! All simple and clear and should keep you focused. Let's hope it all works out fine!
For the cooking without oil, I am curious why you would want to do that? We need some fats, and I've never heard that some olive oil here and there is any bad? What has helped me in reducing (not eliminating…) is using a little silicon cooking-pencil to spread a couple of droplets of olive oil in the frying pan (instead of adding a whole lot of it and then not having it well spread over the pan). And new – less sticky – pans. And then there's a lot of alternative cooking ways like steaming which indeed reduce the cooking fats of course… Or chewing it raw altogether and make nice sauces from red lentils or green avocados or all kind of other nice stuff 🙂
Good luck with your 2014 goals!
Thanks for the warm comments, Renata. I'm looking forward to making these goals come true. 🙂
As far as the oils go – We can get healthy fats from other sources other than oil. Nuts, seeds, avocados, are just a few. In fact, we can get healthy oils, plus the "pure" nutrients by eating our foods whole. I'm trying to steer away from all processed foods, and cooking oils are all highly processed, containing loads of calories with minimum nutrients.
I like your idea of using the silicon cooking pencil; I had never heard of that before. That's a great way to keep from getting carried away with the oil. I've recently learned how to cook with.. (drum roll)… water! Actually, most foods contain water anyway, and require very little added water to cook. I've been amazed at how simple, delicious, and less expensive it is to cook this way. I do rely more heavily on spices and herbs to season my food now. Let's just say I spend a lot of time chopping garlic. 😉
Again, thanks for your well-wishes. I hope that you and your family have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Aww, thanks Brandon! Right back at ya!
How is your caffeine and less oil intake going? I was surprised how easy it was to get rid of oil in cooking and whole food fats are much tastier 🙂 I'm weaning myself off of caffeine…again. I have a non sports related ankle injury right now so exercise is put aside right now until my move when I can swim so I'm going to try to at least improve and tweak the diet more. If something is improving I won't feel like I'm going backwards,lol.