Ul­tra- run­ning legend ( and ve­gan) Scott Jurek shares his tried- and- tested ways to run strong on the amaz­ing power of plants

Runner's World (UK) - - Trail Special -

When I was grow­ing up I was a meat-and-pota­toes kid who hated veg­eta­bles. But 18 years ago, when I was 25, I had a bowl of veg­e­tar­ian chilli that changed my life (and my run­ning) when it sent me down the path of plant-based eat­ing. Since then, I’ve fu­elled my ul­tra run­ning with plants. But it didn’t hap­pen all at once. I slowly started swap­ping an­i­mal foods for plant-based ones: meat and pota­toes be­came tem­peh and yams; my ‘salad’ of ice­berg let­tuce and car­rots be­came large bowls of dark leafy greens topped with chick­peas or kid­ney beans. Be­fore I knew it, I had ditched an­i­mal prod­ucts com­pletely and ramped up my mileage with­out in­jury or un­due fa­tigue.

Whether you want to forgo steak and eggs is up to you, but even run­ners who eat an­i­mal prod­ucts can ben­e­fit from adding more plants to their plates. Th­ese small changes can help you try new foods, lose weight and fuel your runs.


You don’t need to come up with an en­tirely new diet when tran­si­tion­ing to a more plant-based life­style. In­stead, de­ter­mine the nu­tri­tional makeup of the foods you’re al­ready eat­ing: what are their macronu­tri­ents (carbs, protein and fat) and mi­cronu­tri­ents (their vi­ta­mins and min­er­als)? Re­place an­i­mal prod­ucts with plant-based ones that have sim­i­lar nu­tri­tional pro­files, pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the mi­cronu­tri­ents that are most com­monly found in an­i­mal-de­rived foods, such as vi­ta­min B12, iron, zinc and cal­cium (see Veg­gie

Op­tions, right).


Chal­lenge your­self to ex­per­i­ment with one new fruit, veg­etable, bean or other plant­based food ev­ery week. This will force you out of your com­fort zone (in a good way) and al­low you to try new recipes.


‘But what about protein?’ There's a valid rea­son why veg­e­tar­i­ans and ve­g­ans get this ques­tion all the time: an­i­mal prod­ucts con­tain all nine es­sen­tial amino acids needed to build protein. Plant-based foods? Only quinoa and soy can make that claim. In or­der to get enough com­plete pro­teins in your diet, com­bine a va­ri­ety of foods: mix and match beans and rice, lentils and chick­peas, plus meat sub­sti­tutes, such as tofu.


I didn’t be­come ve­gan overnight. Take baby steps. Pick one meal a week to go plant-based or veg­e­tar­ian – or a full day if you’re feel­ing ad­ven­tur­ous, like a Meat­less Mon­day. If you don’t trust your veg­gie cook­ing skills (yet), turn to the pros. Try the veg­gie op­tion at a restau­rant to ex­pand your palate and come up with new ideas for your own menus.


When you’re pushed for time or tired, it’s easy to re­vert to nor­mal eat­ing habits. Carve out an hour over the week­end to make a large veg­gie salad or plant-based bowl (see

Let’s go bowl­ing, right) and save por­tions for lunch and din­ner later in the week.


If you’re not a greens lover, I un­der­stand: I de­spised veg­gies. Add dark leafy greens like spinach, kale or rocket to your morn­ing smooth­ies. You’ll get a dose of fi­bre, cal­cium and fo­late, and the fruit will mask the flavour.


Thanks to the dishes from around the globe that I found in veg­e­tar­ian cookbooks, I un­cov­ered a world of new flavours. The wide range of spices and dif­fer­ent ways of pre­par­ing foods keep things fresh.

Pair plant-based foods with each other ( like rice and beans) for a com­plete protein.

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