Wonder What Vegan Is Like?

Plenty of athletes use a vegan or plant-based diet to enhance performance. As I like to say, plants enhance. This growing list of athletes includes legendary frequent ultra marathoner winner, Scott Jurek, to triathlete Brendan Brazier, and to amazing body-builders such as Robert Cheeke. Check out his site www.veganbodybuilding.com for an incredible array of athletes, male and female who do it all ‘just’ on plants.

So what’s all the buzz about? Many athletes, myself included, find that a plant-based diet reduces inflammation, speeds recovery and manages weight optimally.

A vegan diet, or plant-based as the terms go, mean eating nothing with a mother or a face. No meat products which includes no dairy or eggs as well.

Have you wondered what it’s like to eat a plant-based diet? President Bill Clinton reversed his heart disease and avoided a third heart procedure, in addition to losing a needed 25 pounds. Some people think a vegan diet doesn’t seem interesting or full of variety. I answer, Mother Nature got it right by giving us thousands of fruits and vegetables all colors of the rainbow. In the animal kingdom, food is pretty much brown, brown and brown. Nature wanted to make sure we ate our fruits and vegetables by making them so colorful and appealing. If you aren’t ready to go au natural completely, there are plenty of processed foods to help you make the transition. Many food companies such as Tofurkey, Fieldroast, Sophie’s Kitchen and Gardein are several of the most popular animal substitutes or analogs, as they are called. These companies are creating foods that look like everything from shrimp, chicken and sausages. They leave no excuse not to at least experiment.

Where do you go to try it out with no financial risk? Vegfests are popping up all over the country. Some have been going on for decades. They allow you to go and taste all kinds of vegan foods for free. Although they are called Vegetarian Festivals, they are almost all exclusively vegan. They want vegans to attend knowing that there is no risk they’ll be eating something like cow’s milk cheeses. There are so many vegan cheeses anyway, there will most likely be vendors there serving free samples.

I have been lucky to be invited by my publisher and others to be one of the main speakers at many of the largest vegfests in the US and Canada since my first book came out. I’ve been blown away by all the other speakers, vendors and foods at Vegfests. I just returned from being one of 4 main speakers at the Portland’s Vegfest, considered by some to be vegan mecca. I not only spoke about my recent book, “Paleo Vegan,” but I also did cooking demonstrations from one of my other books. I was also asked to lead a workout for attendees titled, “Warm-ups and Cool-downs To Keep You Injury-Free.” Other speakers are also book authors, doctors, registered dieticians, athletes and celebrities.

I’ll be speaking at the Atlanta and Boston Vegfests this fall. Those events occur on the same weekends as the Tampa (Nov. 8th) and Orlando (Oct. 25th) Vegfests.

Be sure to go! I was invited to both Tampa and Orlando Vegfests for the past 5 years and did talks and food demos. But since my publisher invited me to the other two, I have to go to those. My publisher only pays for 2 or 3 authors to speak at these events, which is rare these days. What a great problem to have…overlapping vegfests on the same weekends. More people understand that their doctors never get a single nutrition class in medical school and therefore need to do their own homework about how to deal with health problems.

Overlap never used to happen when I started the lecture circuit. So if you have ever been wondering what a vegan diet tastes like or looks like, it is fun to go to one of these.

In addition to my talks, I’m also being asked to do fitness demos featuring the routines I’ve used to stay injury free over 34 years of running.

Look for other events outside the vegan box. For example, the past two years my publisher invited me to book sign at his booth at the Miami Book Festival, a beautiful street festival over 10 days attracting 2 million people. This year, I was invited by the festival to not only be a speaker, but to also do a food demonstration. Vegan is really getting so mainstream. Gotta run!

In addition to “Paleo Vegan: Plant-based Primal Recipes,” Ellen Jaffe Jones is the also the author of “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day” and “Kitchen Divided.”  She is a certified personal trainer and running coach available for online personal training and/or vegan lifestyle coaching.