Author Archives: Matt Ruscigno

About Matt Ruscigno

I'm a vegan Registered Dietitian, endurance athlete and activist living car-free in California. I think fun, adventure, ethics and radical politics go hand in hand.

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer update for 2014

Usually by this time of year the hill climb event I put on, Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, is already scheduled. Or may have already happened! This year I am pushing it to late summer or maybe even early Fall. I apologize for the delay, but a few things have prevented it from happening as normal. Don’t worry though, it will go on.

Also, I’m starting to prepare for 2015, which will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of this event! Hope to do a few extra things next year to really celebrate. Can you believe it has been that long? Long live #BikeLA.

Climbing Los Angeles

Meanwhile, I was very fortunate to have Peloton Magazine cover it as part of their issue on climbing. It includes wonderful photos from my friend Jordan Clark Haggard, some of which you can see at this link, below the excellent photos of my friend Megan Dean of Moth Attack Custom Bicycles. Thanks Jordan and everyone at Peloton!

Also in the issue is my very good friend Steevo. We rode the Great Divide mountain bike route together in 2007 (more famous for the Tour Divide race that uses the route). We’ve been friends for 20 years and bikes have been a part of that equation ever since. He’s the 10x winner of Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen hill race in Pittsburgh, which my event is based on. More interesting than that are the stories on his blog, which you should definitely check out.

When I schedule this year’s event I will post here on this site and on my twitter, @MattRuscigno.

 

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Filed under city, feelmylegs, road

Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes is now Strongest Hearts

Hey everyone! I have so many announcements these days that I can’t keep track of them. I was discussing this with a friend the other day- when some projects and ideas get to a certain size they become bigger than you. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. One such project that is long overdue for an update is our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes series.

It is now Strongest Hearts, with its own look and feel. Our emphasis will remain on high-quality profiles of vegan athletes but we are expanding to include other movers and shakers in the vegan world, like our good friends Timeless Coffee, for example.

 

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We’ve started filming again and have half a dozen episodes in the post-production phase. So exciting! You can see our previous 11 episodes all in one place and we’d love it if you could share them with your friends. Meanwhile you can follow @VegHearts and The Facebook Strongest Hearts for updates. I’m going to start writing more about sports nutrition at Stongesthearts.org as well.

Thank you everyone who has supported us over the years. The future looks bright for veganism and plant-based diets/lifestyles and we are proud to be a part of these communities.

More updates soon. Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek for one of them.

Have a great weekend!

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And here we are

Hey everyone. Those big changes I’ve been talking about should happen this week, if all goes well. Keep your eyes here for an upcoming post with all of the details. For now, here are some news and links on what I’ve been up to lately.

RRP68Thanks to Shawn Bannon for letting us use his photo.

Podcast

I was on the Rich Roll Podcast and it was super fun.  Rich is really cool and we have a long, flowing conversation that hits on many topics. I couldn’t be more thankful that he had me on. I’ve been hyping this over my twitter and facebook and I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from it. I thank each of you who have shared it or sent me super nice emails. I love hearing from you! And if you like the podcast you’ll enjoy this post by Rich: Why you should stop life hacking and invest in the journey.

Ex-Vegan Talk

Happy to report that my talk with Sayward Rebhal at the Animal Advocacy Museum went very well. Sayward covered it on her site and we are fortunate for this Vegansaurus write-up that really captures what we are discussing. Thank you! Since then we’ve had a number of people contact us about working together to improve vegan retention. One is Jack Norris, my friend and colleague who runs the excellent Vegan Health site and is a co-founder of Vegan Outreach. Can we get him some sort of award for all he does?

Book Stuff

Did a quick interview with Viva La Vegan about the No Meat Athlete book. You may have noticed that I always link to Skylight Books, one of my favorite book shops. Well they are hosting Isa Moskowitz for a signing of Isa Does It, her new kick-ass cookbook. I was fortunate to contribute to Appetite For Reduction which has had a resurgence in popularity due to the success of her newest book.

While some cookbooks are very popular, other authors haven’t been so fortunate. Taymer Mason who wrote the exceptional Caribbean Vegan, shared her recent experience trying to get her next book published. This really bummed me out. I also hate that publishing books is basically a popularity contest. And if you read her post, it’s obvious that race plays a role in her difficulty in publishing a vegan French cookbook. Ugh. Why not head over to her site, send an encouraging email or buy her book?

Vegan Arm-Wrestler? What?

I met Rob Bigwood one day last year when we were both getting tattooed at Saved in NYC- small world, right? Rob is a professional arm wrestler and starring in a new reality show called Game of Arms. Of course he is the token vegan, but he represented by winning his first match!

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Resources for You

If I have any purpose in life, it’s to get people the resources they need to be a better whatever they are. Obviously one of those is making the transition to a vegan diet. It’s not as easy as some long-term vegans say it is, especially when all of this is new to you. Fortunately Leo from Zen Habits gathered a number of excellent resources and created The 7 Day Vegan Challenge. I’ve mentioned this before (I contributed!) but it’s worth repeating. Please share this site with someone who would benefit from it!

7DayVegan.com

And after conversing with Jack a bit about the Ex-Vegan talk I decided to head over to Vegan Outreach to buy the Animal Activists Handbook. I quickly got nostalgic about all of the work they do and how it has influenced me. I ordered my first pamphlets from them back in 97 or 98! Needless to say I ended up with more than a book:

VOorder

You may recognize a face in there, it’s Donovan from Day in the Life episode 5! How cool is that? Makes sense to me. Also reminded me of the importance of having good info to hand to people whenever they ask.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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Filed under nutrition, vegan

New Year, New Projects.

Happy new year!

First off, I want to let you know there are some big changes coming to True Love Health.  It’s very exciting for me and there will be a post with clear details about the new site(s).  Keep your eyes out!

Did you know that the National Park Service has banned all sporting events in Death Valley? Read what my friends at AdventureCORPS have to say about it.

 

The 2006 Team Bonobo returned to the 2013 Furnace Creek 508 edition.

The 2006 Team Bonobo returned to the 2013 edition of the Furnace Creek 508, but I failed to do a race report.

 

Announcing a project looking at why people stop being vegan

Over this past weekend I led a discussion with the excellent Sayward Rehbel entitled Exploring the Ex-vegan Phenomenon. I know Sayward from contributing to her book Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide. Not long after her pregnancy she became sick and couldn’t figure out what it was and wrote this post: Facing Failing Health as a Vegan. Fortunately her story has a happy ending, but many people who have health issues while eating vegan do not have the tenacity she does and go back to eating animal products. This has happened with many health gurus / pseudo health professionals who now proudly claim they are ex-vegans.

It got me thinking, why do people go back to eating meat? Are there reasons we can point to like poor dietary habits combined with a misunderstanding of nutritional science? Do people just burn out? Get tired of reading labels? Get into ‘spirituality’ that ignores the ethics of food? Sayward was the first person I reached out to when I wanted to talk about this and immediately it became clear that we had a lot to discuss! After some back and forth and theorizing we decided to host an audio lecture with Main Street Vegan. That went so well, we scheduled our first public event this past Saturday at the Animal Advocacy Museum in Pasadena (my apologies for not posting it here) and it went great! Had a wonderful discussion about we need to do better as individuals and as a community to keep people vegan.

It’s an ongoing project and I’ll be sharing updates as they come.

 

Going to be on Rich Roll’s podcast

Also this past Friday I was fortunate to be on Rich Roll’s podcast! Rich is the author of the best-selling Finding Ultra and a 2-time finisher of Ultraman. He and I have emailed off and on for years but had never met in person. We sat down together to record the podcast and it’s over 2 hours long! I couldn’t believe we chatted for so long, so easily. Apparently he has a history of long podcasts and people enjoy them so I look forwarding to hearing it. I mention lots of stuff I am excited about like cycling in Los Angeles, Portobello restaurant in Portland, the Badwater 135, Furnace Creek 508 and of course plant-based nutrition. As soon as it’s up I’ll be posting it to my twitter and facebook feeds.

 

Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes Update

We are scheduling new Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes episodes. I know, I’ve been saying this for a long time. I’m sorry!! Sasha and I had a meeting over the weekend and we made some plans and we are stoked. New website very soon.

 

And…..

Lastly, and this is probably the biggest thing, I wrote a book with chef Joshua Ploeg! But it’s not what you think it would be. It won’t be out until June 1st and I’ll share all the details in a stand alone post.

 

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‘Eat More Plant-based Meals’ Handout Now Available

I’d like to share a resource I wrote for people who are new to plant-based or vegan eating via the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietary Practice Group, a subset of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

It’s a full-color double-sided pdf that you can download here:

Eat-More-Plant-based-Meals (pdf!)

It’s just one of over a dozen handouts on different vegetarian nutrition topics that are available at VegetarianNutrition.net. Please share these widely as many people have questions about nutrition that these resources, written by experts, can answer. If I have any mutual friends with Jay Z (hey, you never know) could you pass this along for his 22-day vegan challenge? Thanks.

Eatmoreplantbasedresource

[A screenshot of the top half of the double-sided handout]

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NYC Residency Coming Up

Hey everyone! I’ve some exciting news. The week after Thanksgiving I will at the Skin Care Lab in Soho seeing clients. Dr Brad Katchen and I began talking over email after he came to my talk at Jivamukti Yoga back in April and wants to offer plant-based nutrition counseling to his patients and others. Details are here.  I’d like to add that there’s a 10% discount for my readers and their friends- just mention my site or Discerning Brute.  To make an appointment you can call 212-334-3142. 

I’ve worked with enough people over the years to know that there’s a lot of confusion about what’s healthy and what’s not. Many people feel overwhelmed or just don’t know where to begin.  And many self-proclaimed nutrition experts are simply repeating what they read or what works for them. My approach is to meet people where they are and go from there with the most sound science and practical applications.  While I do skype, phone and email consultations, there’s nothing like sitting down face to face to discuss this! If you are in the area, I encourage you to make an appointment today. Or it could make a great Thanksgivukkah present!

I’d be remiss to not end with some Thanksgivukkah vegan recipes and mention this fun article by Isa Moskowitz on CNN about hosting vegans at this time of year

 

Thanksgivukkah

 

 

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Two Projects That Need Your Support

It’s not easy to separate me from my money. Ask any of my friends who have done charity bike rides! I am also not one to ask other people to give up their own money. But, like when I drop product names, sometimes there are causes that I deem especially worthy of my (and your!) time and money. Here are two current fundraising campaigns that need your support.

The first is by The Food Empowerment Project, a food justice organization that, among other things, runs the Slavery-Free Chocolate List. I’ve done a lot of research on cacao/chocolate recently (more on that soon!) and I can tell you the situation is as dire as they say. They also do a lot of work around veganism and the fundraising campaign is for an issue very important to me: vegan retention. Did you know that most vegans/vegetarians eventually go back to eating meat? It’s an issue that is not openly discussed, though it should be. Food Empowerment Project is developing a newsletter with the sole purpose of retaining vegans, called Food Chain. Read about the fundraising campaign and see the video above. There aren’t many vegan organizations who have a strong commitment to intersectionality, so it is crucial to support the ones who do.

punkrockcookbook

You may know about my friend Joshua Ploeg, an extremely skilled chef who makes some of the best food I have ever eaten, no exaggeration! Him and I are working on a project that comes out next year, but he’s already finished This Ain’t No Picnic: Your Punk Rock Vegan Cookbook. Full color and 192 pages! How cool is this? It’s ready to go to print, but the publisher, instead of having it printed abroad, is using a worker-owned printer in Illinois. This costs more and they are fundraising for the remaining amount. The best deal? You can get 5 books for a $50 donation! Perfect for people who love to give vegan cookbooks as gifts. More details in the video.

If you have the means to donate to either of these projects your money will go a long way to support people doing the work we all care about. Thank you! And bonus points for anyone that can name the dog from my instagram or the athlete from the Day in the Life that is on the cover of Joshua’s book.

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No Meat Athlete Book Tour

As you probably know, the No Meat Athlete book came out this month and I’m very excited to be a co-author. I’m especially happy right now to announce that I am jumping on some of the book tour with Matt! I’ll be doing the Southern California, Arizona and Austin events.

no-meat-athlete-book-cover

November 1 — San Diego, CA | Movin’ Shoes (Pacific Beach location) — Get Updates

November 3 — Los Angeles, CA | Vegan Book Fair at Animal Advocacy Museum, presented by Compassion Over Killing — Get Updates

November 5 — Phoenix, AZ | 24 Carrots – Get Updates and Tickets

November 6 — Scottsdale, AZ | Nourish Cafe – Get Updates

November 7 — Tucson, AZ | Morning Blend show followed by run/event presented by Healthy You Network (details to come)

November 9 — Austin, TX | Bearded Bros. – Get Updates

If you live in one of these areas, I’d love to see you at an event. Have an omnivorous friend who is interested in vegetarianism? Bring them along. And as time allows, I can schedule private consultations in these cities if you are interested in working with me one on one.

Also, I’m taking recommendations for your favorite places to eat and drink coffee in these cities!

For those in the Los Angeles area I encourage you to join me before Sunday’s event at Dan Koeppel’s staircase walk. Dan created the Big Parade which is a yearly walk of over 100 staircases in Los Angeles (my photos and story) and leads regular walks that will no doubt show you parts of LA you didn’t know exist. Sunday’s walk focuses on the Hyperion-Glendale Bridge because the city is planning on ‘improving it’ with wider lanes, freeway dividers and 55 MPH speeds with little concern for cyclists and pedestrians. Right in between the very walkable and bikeable Silver Lake and Atwater neighborhoods!

Lastly, if you are in Northern California the No Meat Athlete San Francisco event with Leo Babauta from Zen Habits looks very cool. Which reminds me: If you haven’t seen it please check out Leo’s 7-Day Vegan Challenge and share it widely.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you on the road!

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Filed under run, travel, vegan

Screening of 2006 Fixed Gear Furnace Creek 508

Yesterday I turned 35 years old and pointed out to an also-recently-35 friend that we are the same distance in time to 50 as we are from 20.  Wrap your mind around that for a minute. If that doesn’t make you turn off your computer and run off to do something more productive, I’ll continue below.

Turns out that time is rather hard to put into perspective as this insanely helpful and great article with gradually increasing timelines shows. I’m feeling especially nostalgic because the weekend after this one is the Furnace Creek 508 and we are bringing back Team Bonobo: The 2006 four-person fixed gear team.

 

We were fixie famous before fixie famous was a thing. -Megan Dean

There’s even a documentary by Sasha Perry, the smarts behind our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes series.

 

 

As an excuse to get together, hang out with friends at Golden Saddle Cyclery and eat Pure Luck burritos, we are hosting a screening of Eat! Sleep? Bikes! Thursday Oct 3rd at 630pm. If you are in the LA area I hope you can make it. It’s a free event with great people. I’d also like to point out that 2006 was as far in the past as 2020 is in the future. I imagine by 2020 we’ll be racing hover bikes and that predictive text will be good enough to just read my mind and I won’t have to put words in a certain order in my head or actually have to type them any more.

I’ve taken some time off from the 508 after racing it solo 3 years in a row. Two of those years involved swimming at either the pre-race meeting or the halfway point. Let’s see if we can work that in somewhere this year. If we finish, 3 of us will be in the Furnace Creek 508 Hall of Fame. I’m not sure if there’s a distinction related to swimming.

 

2010 Pre-race meeting. Photo by Lisa Auerbach. http://lisaanneauerbach.com/

2010 Pre-race meeting. Photo by Lisa Auerbach.

 

Thanks for reading! You can follow the race webcast here. Also, don’t forget that the No Meat Athlete book comes out October 1st and there’s a book tour; I’ll be along for some of the dates including this vegan book fair in Los Angeles.

 

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Filed under 508, eat, race, road, vegan

Day in the Life 11; Vegan Track Cyclists

Bike racing is a tough, unforgiving discipline that requires focus, strength and endurance. But do you think all cyclists are super thin or scrawny? Then you haven’t met any track cyclists. Track cycling is over 100 years old and takes place on a velodrome at speeds nearing 60 miles per hour. There are a variety of track races but they all require one thing: being able to pedal a single speed fixed gear brakeless bicycle at incredibly high speeds. And like sprinters in track and field, this requires a tremendous amount of leg strength for power and output.

So for our next installment in the Day  in the Life of Vegan Athletes Series, I’d like you to meet 3 track cyclists who know that eating vegan doesn’t compromise strength and speed on the track. I mean, how many people do you know that require special pants to fit their quad muscles into?

JackLindquistPistons

Jack Lindquist with his world famous piston tattoos.

First we meet Kevin Selker of Boulder, CO. We met Kevin while in Colorado filming with Modern-Day Pentathlete Justin Torrellas and he even makes a brief appearance in the Runner Megan Hebbe episode where I fail miserably at cross-country skiing. Kevin, despite being a PhD student, won 30 track races in 2012! And this year (this weekend actually!) he’s headed to the Collegiate National Track Championships. And it’s his wonderful lasagna recipe that we feature below.

Next we meet Jack Lindquist, formerly of Los Angeles, who now resides in Portland, OR where he manages the one-of-a-kind bikeshop/coffeebar/bar Velo Cult. Jack is a long-time friend of mine and whenever anyone mentions vegans being weak I mention that he can deadlift over 500 pounds. That’s a quarter ton he can pick up off the ground!

Lastly we meet Zak Kovalcik of Portland, OR. Like Jack, Zak is a former bike messenger. He also realized he can go really fast on a bike and decided to ‘pursue’ it. And as you’ll see he has the big wins to prove it. I also want to mention that he rides for the Sizzle Pie Team, mostly because they have kick-ass vegan pizza and a great ‘slice and salad’ special that I always hit up when I’m in Portland!

Here it is, episode number 11:

How great is that? To read more about Zak winning TWO national championships in 2012 check out this article. And isn’t Kevin the nicest guy ever? It’s hard to imagine that someone so incredibly nice could be so competitive. I love that we met him for the first time and he was making this lasagna, and now you can too!

Kevin Selker’s Homemade Chickpea Cheez Vegan Lasagna

Adapted version of an adapted version of the lasagna from Passionate Vegetarian cookbook.

Makes one very large or two normal-sized lasagnas.

Breadcrumb topping
1-2 cups homemade breadcrumbs (when you don’t finish a loaf of bread in time, leave the leftover slices out–I leave them on top of my fridge–to dry out, then process them and store.  The best bread makes the best breadcrumbs.  Store bought breadcrumbs are usually awful.)
Couple cloves of garlic
More parsley or carrot tops or fresh italian herb of your choice
2 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Process the breadcrumbs with the garlic, adding the oil while the blade is spinning.  Then add herbs and salt and pulse once more. Set aside.

Chickpea filling
1 quart (32oz) Prepared chickpeas  (If you cook these at home add a teaspoon of baking soda when they’re boiling–it speeds cooking and helps them get extra soft!)  Reserve some cooking water from the chickpeas
3 cloves garlic
2 TBSP cornstarch
Handful of flat leaf parsley or carrot tops

Puree the chickpeas in a blender or food-processor.  (NOTE: To save time you don’t have to clean it after making the bread crumbs) Add the garlic and starch and puree until smooth, adding the reserved cooking water if needed.  The consistency should be like a very soft hummus.  Add the parsley or carrot-tops and puree to combine.  If the beans were unsalted, add a bit of salt, otherwise probably don’t–it’s OK if this sauce is not very salty.

Vegetable Filling
1 large onion, chopped
Several cups vegetables of your choice. Favorites include:
1 cup roasted bell peppers, chopped
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
Large handful of dried tomatoes, chopped
Large handful of olives, pitted and sliced

Sauté the onion for a few minutes, and add the vegetables in order that they need to be cooked.  Do not overcook, as the lasagna will bake also.  Some (most) vegetables won’t need to be cooked much or at all, so just add these at the end and kill the heat.  Add half of the tomato sauce.

Lemon Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBSP flour (whole wheat or white)
1 TBSP chopped garlic
1 TBSP tomato paste
1.5 cups vegetable broth or water (you can use bouillon also)
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon (pro-tip: you can use the same lemon!)

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the flour, and mix, being careful not to burn the flour.  Next, add the garlic and tomato paste and mix well.  Incrementally mix in the vegetable broth and continue to stir, smoothing out lumps.  Bring to a simmer for a minute, then lower the heat and add the lemon juice, zest, and wine.  Done!

Additional Ingredients
1 quart (32oz) Tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought marinara)
About 12 ounces of lasagna noodles, either prepared or no-boil

Assembly 

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook the lasagna noodles as desired.  On the bottom of the pan, put about 1/4 cup of the lemon sauce: enough to coat the bottom.  Then put a layer of noodles.  On top of the noodles put half of the vegetables, then another layer of noodles.  Spread all of the bean filling evenly and top with remaining vegetables.  Top with a final layer of noodles.  Pour the lemon sauce over the top and remaining tomato sauce (if there is room).  Wrap tightly in foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Then turn oven up to 450-500 and take the lasagna out.  Remove the foil, topping the lasagna evenly with the breadcrumbs.  Bake until the breadcrumbs are slightly browned.   Let the cooked lasagna rest for a bit before cutting, serve warm.

Enjoy and let me know how it turns out for you! And if you are ever in Portland, Oregon there is more to do than eat so you should stop by Velo Cult and say hi to Jack!

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Filed under bike, Day in the Life, nutrition, race, recipe, travel, vegan