Vegan & running…..

7 messages
22/12/2013 at 15:47


Mr Muddy and I have recently gone vegan (3 weeks in). We decided to test it out, see how we feel and see how it affects us (positively or negatively) before taking a longer term decision. We've done it primarily for environmental reasons (the impact of the meat and dairy industry is massive), but are contemplating whether substituting local, free range meat is environmentally more sustainable than beans/soya imported from South America etc.

Anyway, the question i wanted to ask is about how other vegans (or veggies) feel when they run? I've been for a few runs now, only short ones (3-5 miles) and I've felt completely exhausted. I feel like I lack energy, particularly when running in the evening.

I've been for a bike ride and a run today and I actually felt OK (a very good run in fact, one of my best times). But I think that's mainly because I went out straight after eating breakfast. However I clocked my slowest ever Park Run time yesterday (didn't have time for breakfast) and had to cut short my Thursday night run.

So on Thursday I had a bagel with nut butter for breakfast (at 6:30), sweet potato/corn patties with veggies for lunch at 12:30 (felt super full afterwards) then ran at 6:45 and felt like I'd hit the wall after 2 miles, at which point I turned around. I do feel hungry almost all of the time.   

I suspect that some of this is just my body adapting and working out what to eat, when. I'm reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek, to see if he has any ideas (as he clearly doesn't have any issues with energy!) but if any vegan runners can give me an idea of what they eat and how much i'd really appreciate it as I'm struggling. Other than the lack of energy and feeling hungry I do feel good. But I want to be able to keep running and to be able to run/bike longer than a few miles.



22/12/2013 at 21:18

You could try the Vegan Runners group - they might have info about this. 

23/12/2013 at 01:49

Have you gone from full blown omnivore straight to vegan?  That's a massive adjustment for your body which will take far longer than 3 weeks. In particular your food spends far less time in the gut.  I wouldn't set too high training goals for the time being.

A lot of people start vegetarian and gradually reduce other animal products over time.  I'm practically there but have eggs and hard cheeses from time to time.  And you'll find it very difficult eating out and may have to compromise on dairy at least.

You may find the way forward is to eat smaller amounts but more often.  Getting protein is important from nuts, pulses, soya (if you can tolerate it), avocados and also some grains such as quinoa.   In the long term you'll need to think about vitamins, especially B12.  Hope you like Marmite which is a good source of it!

A great decision and one you'll feel better for.  It may take some time to get to where you want to be but persevere.  

I became a vegetarian 17 years ago, before I started running so I haven't got anything to compare with, but I don't find a problem with energy - other than what's normally to be expected! - over various race distances including a couple of 100-milers. 

23/12/2013 at 18:32

Thanks Wilkie & T-Rex. 

Yup straight from omnivore to vegan....i have had bits of cheese/dairy either to use products up or as you say when out and not having much choice.

I think you're right about little and often. I've done that today and felt OK, although I did run straight after breaky. I think its about being a bit more organised when I'm up early and off to work as fruit and a hummus pitta (my usual lunch) is not working too well. So maybe some nuts and other snacks. 


Thanks again both. 



24/12/2013 at 10:46

It will be a massive transition for your body to go to veganism from being an omivore. Try the following blogs:

The first has lots of useful info and advice as well as recipes. The second has many recipes if you get past the stuff about their 2-year-old. Look in the Running section as well as the Recipes section.

Good luck with you lifestyle choice.

30/12/2013 at 19:23

I've been vegetarian for since I was 16 years old (now 18). I first cut out all meat but still ate fish for about 4 months until I became vegetarian 100% - I actually felt fine, no change whatsoever, didn't feel exhausted etc - I did make sure I got all my proteins from beans etc though and researched recipes and used a website called no meat athlete for recipes too (they're runners in america - try their butternut squash risotto recipe!)

I did however try going vegan about 6 months ago and within about two weeks I had to go back to being vegetarian after the transition was just too much for my body to cope...I felt very sick, tired, weak and just felt under the weather with achy bones. 

I now am slowly making the transition vegan by drinking soy/oat milk instead as much as possible along with dairy free butter and just actively choosing a vegan option. It's also difficult when going abroad, restaurants etc although a lot of them will cater for you if you're nice about it they don't mind! (I have to deal with a vegan customer at least once a week at work who is extremely rude complaining that we're discriminating against him and it puts a bad name to vegans) 

I think it's one of those things where you have to make the transition slowly at your own pace and listen to your body!

PS. Jelly tots are vegetarian & vegan! (this made my year and is now my favourite treat)

Let me know if you want any vegan/low dairy vegetarian recipes that are actually yummy!


09/01/2014 at 15:30

Hi, I'm not "vegan" as such but I eat so little meat and dairy I imagine I almost qualify. I try not to think of my diet in terms of labels like "vegetarian" or "vegan".

My advice would be, rather than think of yourself "going vegan" (which I fully support and respect!), think of it more in terms of the food types you get your calories and nutrition from. For example, was your old diet fat or carb focussed? Have you worked this out? How does this compare to your new diet? Have major sources of calories and nutrition changed? If the transition you are making is drastic, e.g. high meat to zero meat, then as others have said take it steady and expect changes on a monthly / yearly timescsale. In terms of nutrition, high animal fat / protein to no animal fat / protein. In your new diet, what are you replacing the animal fat / protein with? Or, if you ate a lot of nuts anyway, then that part of your diet needn't change much, if at all. If you were getting heaps of calories from milk, cheese and eggs before (which is highly questionable imho), again what are you replacing them with? Are you getting enough calories full stop? Have you added up your calorific intake to make sure you are getting enough given your lifestyle, metabolism etc.? If moving to high carb (I tend to be close to high carb vegan), its amazing how many calories you need to / can eat.

Bear in mind also that your gut bacteria evolve in line with what you eat routinely. Therefore when you start eating "new" foods, or change the balance, the bacteria must also adapt, and this can take a long time.

Bottom line, break it all down with some critical analysis. People should be getting substantial nutrition from large quantities of vegetables and fruit anyway, which is "vegan". The remaining calories should be sensible and add up. You can then experiment and fine tune over time.


ps good luck with it, and don't worry too much about protein

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