I have been completely vegan now for 6 months, and mostly vegan for an additional 2-3 months before that. Before becoming a vegetarian and subsequently vegan, I discovered my gluten intolerance and more recently a mild to moderate soy intolerance (tempeh is ok...). I have happily and energetically taken on the task of trying to make sure I get enough vital nutrients and felt like I was doing a decent job. But as I blogged about before, I realized that I was not as on top of my protein intake as I should be. If I were not a long distance runner, perhaps in the long run I could continue to be gluten free, soy free and vegan. All I would have to do would quit my job and spend all of my time working on getting enough nutrients (hahaha). But the runner body requires more. I truly believe a vegan diet works for ultrarunners, of that there is no doubt in my mind. It is the other factors that are limiting. You take away whole grains (those with gluten) and soy and you take away the next highest protein sources available.
For the past three weeks I have been battling some weird gut issue and through my research discovered it could be a few things, most of which are not too worrisome. The one that caught me most though was that my symptoms could be related to a protein deficiency. I will not know until the dr comes back with the test but the thought alone made me do some thinking. I am not a moral vegan, I chose to become vegan because of all the benefits to me as a runner. Meat and dairy are not the right fuel for my body as a runner, my body doesn't want it, it doesn't thrive on it. So eliminating meat and dairy was not a hard decision or much of a decision at all in fact I just woke up one day and realized I wasn't eating it, desiring it at all, nor generally okay with it on any level. It would have been harder to continue to make myself eat it. I don't think that that will change. I always tell people when I discuss the way I eat that if my body ever tells me (and yes, I am in tune enough with my body to know what it wants and needs) that it wants things I don't currently consume that I would eat them (especially since I have broken all of my food addictions aka coffee, similar a long time ago). And my body has indicated it needs more protein, specifically eggs and fish (very limited amounts). It has been a big back in forth in my mind this week about whether or not this is the right decision for me. But I know it is. And whats more, is it not a sign that I would a carton of farm fresh eggs from my race on Saturday?!?
It has been a thought through decision which was surprisingly difficult to make. But the tipping point had definitely come. My health, my running and the nutrition it takes to do that are what are my focus, always have been. I once had a moral vegan classmate, who when I told him I was trying to go vegan, said that even he would not choose to be vegan if he was gluten intolerant because it is too hard to get the right nutrition. I have given it a try and for the most part felt great and energetic, but that is due to the elimination of dairy and meat....fish and eggs were more of an active choice and honestly, with fish & eggs and without it, my energy is the same. My protein (and therefore health in the long run) is just better with. To me that says, Yes fish and eggs, No dairy and meat. And that mental choice mirrors what my body desires. And so, this morning I made myself some hard boiled eggs and they were delicious. I am not rushing back into eating a huge quantity of fish (especially because of high mercury levels) and no more than the EPA recommended 2x per week of low mercury fish, but I am making it available to myself as an option. Especially when traveling and having to eat out on a regular basis, it is a good protein option. I am going to try it for a while and see how I feel. Hopefully this will take care of managing my protein and help me become even a stronger runner.
Speaking of the body telling me what it wants, I can tell that the end of the current seasonal vegetables is coming, as I have started to desire less and less of my favorites, brussel sprouts and potatoes. And its not because I have consumed them to death but more because it is time for something new! Its interesting that I have felt this way/desire since I also noticed at the grocery that these same items are less available. I am excited to be inspired by new produce and will hopefully have some great new items to explore and obsess about.
I broke in a pair of new shoes today. I always forget how good shoes are suppose to feel after I have been pounding the pavement in the same pair for so many miles. What a comfy ride. I was out running this morning and turning back along Ravenna to come home when I saw an elderly woman standing on the corner where there was a crosswalk waiting to cross. As I ran up, I watched 4 cars (all of which had stop signs), not stop for the woman. I was going to cross any ways, and can easily dash between cars, but I decided instead to use the crosswalk to give her an opportunity to cross. I slowed to a walk and entered the crosswalk and a car literally drove into the intersection and was going to go right on through on my heels, but I stopped in his way, turned back to the woman and said, "did you need to cross?" She smiled, said yes and proceeded into the crosswalk. As she walked by me she said, "I use to be a runner". She was a lovely woman. It felt good to do that. The brief unexpected human connection moments are what makes life sweet. Yes it was a good deed I guess, but I didn't do it for that reason or even for a thank you. I did it because it was the right thing to do and that is good for the universe. She got across the street and I ran away with a smile on my face.