Meats and eggs provide proteins and carbs that are a necessary part of a runner’s diet. They build muscle, improve performance, and speed up recovery after strenuous workouts. On the surface, this could be a problem for vegan runners. However, there are plenty of ways vegans can stock up essential nutrients without consuming anything that came from a living creature.
What Vegan Runners Can Eat and Why
Vegan runners diet plans need a specific focus on protein. Products like tofu and tempeh provide versatile meal options and are high in protein. Admittedly, however, vegetables can be frustrating. There aren’t many that offer much protein, but there are some that offer high levels. While meats will naturally contain more protein, several vegetables that have high protein levels can be helpful for your diet. Brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, avocados, and spinach. While potatoes are carbs, not proteins, they are also essential building blocks for your runs.
So are beans–with blacks beans and lentils packing in high levels of protein for your running needs. However, as far as any single item mentioned in this article, the soybean is quite possibly the most healthy. A 155g cup of cooked edamame has 18.5 grams of protein, along with essential amino acids which most vegetables don’t have. Amino acids are the essential building blocks of proteins. They’re the spice of proteins, for lack of a better word. Proteins with essential amino acids are more effective in building and healing muscles. So, yes, more soybeans.
Of course, if you want a fast and filling method of obtaining protein, there’s always peanut butter. Add some bananas to the mix and you’re halfway to a sandwich Elvis Presley would love.
There’s also help in the form of supplements. Protein powders can be effective, along with protein bars. Just check the labels on the bars first–make sure you’re not plied with too much sugar.
Adding some variety to vegan runners’ diet plans come in the form of oats and nuts (oatmeal, cashews, Brazil nuts, and almonds), which are also high in protein. Dates not only have protein but also glucose for some added bounce. When talking about grains, we mean corn (corn products, in general, are great), barley, quinoa, and rice. These are carbs that will help vegan runners increase their endurance.
Seeds are a funny thing. They provide a good deal of nutrients, though most people largely ignore them. For a vegan runner’s diet plan, sesame seeds are loaded with calcium, which will help in replacing milk. Chia is small, almost like sand. They’re great for your cholesterol and are a great source for fiber. Add it like a spice to salads, smoothies, and oatmeal. Sunflower seeds–Mulder was right all along–are full of heart-strengthening antioxidants. Finally, reduce the potential of heart disease by adding flax seeds to your meals.
A Note About Pasta
Since we’re discussing carbs, pasta is an excellent source for them. Pasta is, most often, considered vegan. However, you should always check the ingredients. Some brands use egg as an ingredient. This is very rare but worth checking just to err on the side of caution. You don’t want your vegan runner’s diet plan to be sabotaged by accident.
Meal Ideas for Vegan Runners
So now you have a bunch of ingredients and nothing to do with them. Well, we’re here to help. A vegan runner’s diet plan is more complicated than that of the average runner. While both still need to maintain strict levels of calories, carbs, fiber, protein, and fats, vegan-friendly foods don’t always have high amounts of nutrients alone that runners who eat meat can get in one quick meal. For vegan runners, the key is mixing and matching.
- A peanut butter (or nut butter) and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread
- A Buddha Bowl: A mix of grains and vegetables served cold. Add in seeds, tofu, and chickpeas, if you’d like. The point of the bowl is to have a little bit of everything, all healthy.
- Dairy-free yogurt with berries, dried fruit, or granola.
- Pancakes, waffles, or french toast (we wouldn’t recommend using too much butter or syrup with it–try a bit of cinnamon).
- A baked sweet potato with corn and avocado slices.
- Oatmeal with berries or dried fruit.
- Smoothies (see below).
- Cereal with almond milk.
- Hummus with celery, baby carrots, or slices of red peppers.
- Sauteed mushrooms (great source for fiber and protein) with some corn and beans.
- A big salad. Obviously, there are many options for you here. For a hearty, protein-infused salad, include avocado, chickpeas (or a healthy dollop of hummus), baked tofu, soybeans or lentils, red onions, almonds, and carrots. For some roughage, add arugula, kale, and/or spinach. Now would also be the time to add in some sesame, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds.
- Stuffed sweet potato. You don’t have to stuff them or use a sweet potato, of course. A regular one can work just fine. You can easily just have them with a little bit of maple syrup (obviously for the sweet one) and some salt. However, if you’re eating big for lunch, you might as well get your money’s worth. Add some quinoa, couscous, avocado-cilantro sauce, red onions, and some soybeans. Crushed tortilla chips can add an exciting crunch, as well.
- Lentil soup. Yeah, it’s more of a cold weather thing, but bear with me. We’ll get to the smoothies in a minute. Add curry powder, red pepper flakes, cilantro, and black pepper for some kick. Other ingredients can include rosemary, garlic, vegetable broth, carrots, onions, salt, cumin, kale, and collard greens.
- Pasta. Your options are limitless here. Add kidney beans, black beans, or chickpeas. Use tomato sauce. Dice up some onions and add in some peas. Sky’s the limit.
- Fried Tempeh sandwich. Load it up with the roughage of your choice, along with some sliced tomatoes and avocado. Maybe some cilantro for a kick. Tempeh not your thing? Substitute with fried cauliflower.
- Tofu pita. Exactly what the name says. Add in some romaine lettuce, BBQ sauce, and some tortilla chips on the side.
- Vegetable chili (or tacos with corn shells).
- Lentil burger. Try it on ciabatta bread for an exotic feel. Use diced carrots, onions, and add some soy sauce.
- Portobello Steak. So many options. BBQ sauce (or traditional steak seasonings). Pesto. Balsamic vinegar. For sides, be traditional and fry up some asparagus and have some steak fries.
- Vegan Mac and Cheese. Yes, I’m as surprised as you. Dice some broccoli florets and add some sea salt for extra flavor.
- Burrito bowl. Why spend all that money at Chipotle? Well, the convenience, for one. But in case you’ve got some extra time and energy, do it yourself. Black or pinto beans will do nicely. Dice up some tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and add cilantro for some spice. Add raw kale or spinach for extra benefits.
- Butternut squash linguine. Not quite real pasta, but it looks the same. That has to count for something, right?
Desserts/Snacks for Vegan Runners
- Trail mix. Be careful if you’re buying trail mix rather than making it yourself. Be watchful for the sodium levels. Try to find trail mix with cashews and almonds. There are also several out there with antioxidant dried fruits.
- Gluten-free Carrot cake. This one kinda seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?
- Gluten-free donuts.
- Black bean dip. Goes great with tortilla chips. Make the dip heartier with diced peppers, onions, and corn.
- Brownies made with raw cocoa. It’s a nice way to get around the dairy thing.
Smoothies for Vegan runners
Yes, the smoothies get their own section. They’re not only a key part of a vegan runner’s diet plan, but of any runner’s diet plan. Like the pasta recipes mentioned earlier, there are many, many options available. We’ll list a few just to get you started. You’re probably running three to five times a week, so we’ll match you with one new recipe a day. Keeps things from getting tired, doesn’t it?
- The Green Machine: Famous on the Internet. Great for vegans.
- 1 banana
- 1 cup almond milk
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 15-20 raw almonds
- 2-3 cups chopped kale
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1-2 cups of mixed frozen berries
- This Time With Mango
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 frozen banana (there’s always money in the banana stand)
- ½ cup of chopped, frozen mango
- 1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
- ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons of the seed hemp seeds (heavy in antioxidants, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins).
- ½ scoop of protein powder
- ¼ cup of water. This is optional. Depends on your texture preference.
- Cinnamon and Banana
Depending on how heavy you want this smoothie (or how Elvis you’re feeling that day), add a tablespoon of peanut butter)
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- Cinnamon (don’t overdo it; try a pinch and add more from there to your taste)
- Optional: Ground ginger for a kick.
- More Green
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 handful baby spinach
- 1 handful of kale
- 1/2 avocado
- The juice from 1 lemon
- Cherry Vanilla
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup frozen cherries
- 1/2 banana
- 2 tablespoons of almond butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Check out the video below for more green smoothie recipes.
And there you have it. There are ways to compensate for not eating meat. It’s certainly more difficult for vegans to keep up with the protein and carbs that meat-eaters have, but it can be done, and it doesn’t mean your diet has to be any less flavorful or exciting.
Have fun and remember to leave a comment below!