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Since the beginning of 2013 and the significant changes in my diet and fueling for exercise, I was curious what other runners were doing for special diets and fueling.  During some of my initial Facebook posts in January, which was the beginning stages of Whole30, a friend and fellow Mom’s Run this Town member and Chapter Leader, Anna Wilson, commented on fueling and the fact that she was Vegan.  That sparked my curiosity and prompted me to ask for more information on how she eats and fuels for running.

I have heard a lot about Vegan, but honestly, I have never really researched facts much until I contacted Anna about it.  Yes, I saw the movie Sweet November and the Vegan Thanksgiving debacle that Charlise Theron’s character created, but that’s the movies (which generally over sensationalize many topics)

So let’s start here with What is Veganism?

Here is a broad definition from American Vegan Society

VEGANS (pronounced VEE-guns) Live on products of the plant kingdom.

Veganism is compassion in action. It is a philosophy, diet, and lifestyle.

Veganism is an advanced way of living in accordance with Reverence for Life, recognizing the rights of all living creatures, and extending to them the compassion, kindness, and justice exemplified in the Golden Rule.

Vegans exclude flesh, fish, fowl, dairy products (animal milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc.), eggs, honey, animal gelatin, and all other foods of animal origin.

Veganism also excludes animal products such as leather, wool, fur, and silk in clothing, upholstery, etc. Vegans usually make efforts to avoid the less-than-obvious animal oils, secretions, etc., in many products such as soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, household goods and other common commodities.

Reasons for Veganism:
An equitable, ethical relationship between human and other living creatures
The physiological human design
An enlightened concept of repairing and maintaining health
Practical solutions to the population explosion
Spiritual development

Meet Anna Wilson, Vegan, fellow runner, Mommy and MRTT NYC Chapter Leader:

GM – Give a little background about you.

AW – I am a mom of 3 year-old, a wife and in my past life I had a career in the health and beauty industry as a spa/hair salon manager. I am also a certified Aromatherapist, and I am a runner. I started running a little over a year and half ago. I had some health issues and decided that running was going to be my time to help me heal and lose the weight that I had gained.

Anna Wilson - After Anna's First Race

GM – How long have you been running?

AW – I started running in June of 2012. So, I have been running about a year and 8 months. In that time I have run a handful of 5k’s, a 10k, and a Half Marathon. If you had asked me three years ago if I would ever consider myself a runner, I would have laughed. Me run? I hadn’t run since high school and it was never a “sport” that I enjoyed. Now, I love it. I get grumpy when I can’t get out there.

GM – What is your most memorable race/run?

AW – My most memorable race would have to be the Tunnel to Towers. (http://www.tunneltotowersrun.org/nyc_run.aspx) It is a race that follows in the footsteps of a fallen firefighter who lost his life on September 11, 2001. The race started at the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and continued to the World Trade Center site. Knowing that I was following in his footsteps made this race amazing in itself, however what made it even more amazing were the men and woman running in full fire gear just as Stephen Siller had done all those years before. There are so many parts of this race that were unbelievable from people cheering on the wounded warriors to the fire fighters running, to the police officers and fire fighters holding the photographs of those firemen and police officers that lost their lives that day… I cried many times. (Not to mention that it is the biggest 5k I have ever run in, it was said that there were about 30,000 people)

Anna Wilson - Tunnel to Towers Run

GM – What made you decide to go Vegan?

AW – I had been a vegetarian for most of my life and deciding to eat a Vegan diet just seemed to make sense.  I had been reading Eat and Run by Scott Jurek and Forks Over Knives: the Plant-Based Way to Health by Gene Stone as well as doing some research about different diets and began thinking that it was odd that we (people) are the only ones that continue to ingest milk throughout our lifetimes. After having nursed my son, the idea that milk is made for your child (or a specific animals offspring) was much more prevalent to me and I decided that drinking the milk intended for a calf was not something that I wanted to be partaking of.

GM – What do you consider the best part about Vegan?

AW – For me, it is the simplicity of cooking. I feel better knowing what all the ingredients are and knowing that I feel better when eating this way as opposed to when I do not.

GM – What is the worst part about the Vegan Diet?

AW – I am not sure there is a “worst” for me. The hardest part is that I end up cooking more than one meal often, and maybe that I miss ice cream.

GM – Is Vegan for everyone?

AW – Although many people will probably not agree with me, I do think that being a vegan is for everyone. I don’t feel that people were meant to eat meat all the time. I mean we began as hunter and gatherers and had to hunt down our meat. If we could not catch it, we didn’t eat it. I am sure that there were times when our ancestors survived on a diet that was not heavy in meats.

Having said that, is it for everyone? I think so, but doubt that the majority of people would be willing to try it since it seems as if it would be difficult. For most people anytime trying something new with eating is the withdrawal period when your diet changes.

I do feel that most people would feel better if they were willing to change their diets and try a vegan diet for at least a month.

GM – How do you fuel for pre/post workout with the Vegan Diet, especially for running distances?

AW – For my pre-workout meal I usually have a couple of pieces of Ezekiel 4:9 bread with Almond Butter.

For post-workout, I will usually have handful of nuts for protein, or a homemade granola bar… I do realize that protein is important for after an intense workout and I will have chocolate almond milk or chocolate coconut milk…and if I am having a special “treat” I will stop by Starbucks for a soy-mocha…although, I am trying to not eat too much soy these days either.

Anna Wilson - Run Views NYC

GM – Is your household totally Vegan?  If no, explain.

AW – No, my whole household is not Vegan. Only me.  My husband and my son eat everything.  I do not feel right limiting my son when he is so young. I think he needs to be exposed to everything and when he is old enough he can choose what he wants to eat or not eat. As for my husband, well it’s up to him. I can be an example but cannot make him eat anything. Both my husband and my son do eat what I cook and eat lots of vegan foods as well as fish, chicken, and meat.

Anna Wilson - Typical Vegan Dinner

GM – Where do you shop to get your Vegan approved food?

AW – Well, I live in NYC. So, it is fairly easy to go shopping, well relatively.  I shop mostly at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and here in New York City there is a company called Fresh Direct which is an online grocery store. There are also a lot of small health food stores that have a great selection of vegan foods.

GM – Something that you would like to share to gain more positive exposure for the Vegan Diet.

AW – Eating a Vegan diet is not difficult and anyone can.  It may take a little more time when grocery shopping since you have to read the ingredient labels more, especially since milk can be hidden in a variety of foods. While it may be difficult at first and seem overwhelming, it does get easier and you will stop craving it.  As long as you’re committed to changing your eating lifestyle it will be something that you can do and will enjoy doing.

GM – Just for fun, share something exciting that you have done/accomplished/tried since on the Vegan Diet that you would have not tried previously.

AW – (Ha! Tammy, you think that I am adventurous!!!!  So, hmm . . .  I’m so boring I can’t think of anything….)

My most exciting accomplishment is coming up. I am planning on taking part in the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I have been healing from an injury so my training has changed. I will not be running it as planned but am hoping to walk fast enough to get across that finish line! This will be my first big accomplishment since choosing to eat a Vegan Diet.

For those running Mama’s that need a running group with an amazing support system and most of all FREE, I totally recommend getting involved in a local chapter of Mom’s Run This Town (MRTT).  I am not a Mommy by birth, but I am step-mom to two grown stepsons and was invited to be a part of the Tallahassee Chapter by default and it was the best thing I ever did for my running progression.  There are nationwide Chapters that you can join or if you don’t see a Chapter in your town, think about creating one for other running Mama’s near you!

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I am looking forward to meeting Anna and other MRTT running Mama’s in person at the Disney Princess Half Marathon in a few weeks.