Category Archives: Day in the Life

Strongest Hearts going strong!

Our Kickstarter to fund the next phase of Strongest Hearts (previously Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes) is moving along nicely! Thank you to everyone who has donated or shared our campaign page. Every little bit helps and we need your help right now to reach our goal. Can you make a donation so we can continue to make these videos?

And the sooner we reach our goal the less I can stress about it!  In our latest update we shared the graphics for the rad buttons (thanks bummerart and Pinbot) that will come with every donation over $20.

Eatplants.Getstrong

 

We make these videos to show the various ways veganism can work. We don’t preach one style of eating or body shame; we want plant-based eating and fitness to be accessible to the most people. Showing the interesting stories of athletes in a professional way has never been done. We believe activism and education can be positive, fun AND make a difference. It’s a lot of work to make these and both Sasha and I have invested a lot of time, energy and our own money into this project. So we are seriously indebted to the people who believe in us and have supported us financially!

We have great rewards- hoodies, t-shirts, Purist water bottles, signed books, cycling socks….check them all out at our campaign page and please share it widely with your networks. We are relying on our community to get this out there! Thank you so much.

 

StrongestHearts

 

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Filed under bike, Day in the Life, nutrition, race, road, run, travel, triathlon, vegan

Strongest Hearts Funding Campaign Launched!

Happy to announce that we launched a Kickstarter to fund the next phase of Strongest Hearts (previously Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes)! It’s not ideal, as I hate asking for money, but we’ve made some really great rewards from custom water bottles to hoodies and signed books. If you can help our fundraiser financially, we are forever indebted to you. If not, and I understand this completely, please do share it with other groups, websites, organizations, etc who believe in our mission. There’s a lot of noise around media projects in the vegan athlete world and many people simply don’t know what high quality videos we make. All current episodes can be seen here: Strongest Hearts web series. The more momentum we can gather early on the more likely we will be funded. Remember, if we don’t hit our goal we don’t get anything. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Link: Strongest Hearts Kickstarter

 

 

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Filed under Day in the Life, nutrition, vegan

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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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

Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes Update!

[Thursday March 21 1145am update: Still have about 10 prints left!]

You probably have noticed a lack of updates on our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes project, but it’s for good reason, don’t you worry. Fellow co-creator and bad-ass filmmaker Sasha Perry has spent the last 10 weeks as Executive Producer of Whale Wars filming with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on an anti-whaling ship in the Antarctic Ocean! I’ve been able to email with her and it sounds like it has been an unbelievable experience. Maybe you saw the Sea Shepherd ship being rammed by a whaling ship that is 5x bigger?! Now, after two and a half months at sea, they are returning to Melbourne, Australia after keeping the illegal whalers to the smallest kill year yet!

SeaShepherdBookClub

Sea Shepherd Book Club getting some important reading in at the bottom of the world.

Where does that leave Day in the Life? Since our Kickstarter campaign we have created six episodes- Donovan Jenkins, Catherine Johnson, Megan Hebbe, Justin Torrellas, Rob Dolecki and Michael Arnstein. And we have at least two more episodes in production! We feel we have made very good use of the funds we were so fortunate to receive. But as that money dries up we were forced to discuss what’s next. People have used the videos as the education tools they are designed for and we have gotten wonderful feedback. Just last week I showed the Cara Gillis episode, where she kicks my ass on hill intervals, to a packed room of over 125 people! So obviously we want to keep making them, but we decided to make a small change.

CaraJeffscreening

I recently spoke at a bike shop to over 125 people interested in plant-based nutrition. Screening the Cara Gillis episode was a hit!

We are going to move Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes to a new site. A site that isn’t my personal one, but one that is exclusively about plant-based athletes. We are very excited! Domains have been purchased, twitter handle has been secured and other important internet-y stuff has already been done.  What is the site? Well, we can’t tell you just yet. Because there’s nothing there! Here’s where you come in. We have a few goodies left over from our previous fundraiser that I’m putting up for sale with 100% of the proceeds going toward the setup of the new site. Orders can be made via my Paypal using mattruscigno at gmail.com. Please mention the specific item you are interested in and order by Saturday March 23rd at 1159pm PST!

Make Rad Decisions

I have about 20 (out of 100- each hand-numbered) of the Make Rad Decisions posters left. They were printed by the awesome Tom P from Bird Apt Printing on heavy-duty 8.5×11 poster board using environmentally-friendly inks. They rule! Prints are $15 shipped to the US. International orders get in touch.

Appetite For Reduction

I have two copies of Appetite For Reduction signed by Isa Moskowitz and myself. I think these are worth at least $40 shipped! Though instead of going straight to Paypal let’s see if we can do a silent auction in the comments. Top two bidders get em! Don’t make me give up my faith in humanity by giving fake bids, okay? These would make an awesome gift for your favorite cookbook fan. Last bids taken by Saturday March 23rd at 1159pm PST.

Since I already have these items, 100% of the funds (after stupid Paypal and shipping) go toward our new site and new episodes! Thank you so much for supporting our project thus far and we look forward to making more episodes as soon as Sasha is back on land. Well, we’ll give her a few days to get used to no longer being at sea and then we’ll make some new ones!

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Filed under Day in the Life, nutrition, vegan

Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine Conference!

Hey everyone, happy new year! A quick note that the new Vegan Health and Fitness magazine is having a conference/expo in Los Angeles on January 26th and 27th. I’m honored to be speaking and giving the last presentation of the day, Saturday night at 7pm. The full schedule has a list of fantastic speakers from a number of backgrounds and disciplines. Tickets are available in a few different formats; you can buy just the sessions you would like to attend, a day pass or one for the entire weekend. Plus right now they have a sweet deal: subscribe to the magazine for a year and get two free session passes at the conference. I’d like to point out that Cat Johnson, the kick-ass cyclocross racer from Day in the Life episode 6 , is on the cover of the recent Winter issue!

VeganHealthandFitnessExpo

I’ll be discussing some tenets of sports nutrition, my experience as a vegan athlete and sharing clips (or maybe a full episode!) of our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes series. I hope you can make it and if you do, please come say hello. I’ll be the guy wearing a shirt! Just kidding, I’m sure a few other people will have shirts on.

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Day in the Life 10; Badwater Ultramarathoner Michael Arnstein

Our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes Series has a very special 10th episode today. We travel to the Badwater Ultramarathon, which has been called the most demanding and extreme running race on the planet, and ‘spend the day’ with fruitarian Michael Arnstein.  Mike has a 2.28 marathon PR and sub-10 hour ironman results, which is super impressive, but not nearly as impressive as his positivity! Which is put to test during this 135-mile run in temperatures near 120 degrees. He has so many great things to say and he really captures the spirit of this race and what it’s like to run 135 miles. Without further ado, here’s Michael Arnstein’s attempt at Badwater:

How crazy was that! He endured through the night and just when you thought he might not make it, he finishes top 20! Among many great quotes, here is my favorite,

“When you embrace the struggling, you just learn how to accept it and appreciate it.
Because the good times are only really great when the bad times are pretty tough.”

For more on Mike, his diet and other videos see his site, www.thefruitarian.com. Thanks for watching!

Photo courtesy of AdventureCORPS

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Filed under Day in the Life, nutrition, road, run, vegan

Day in the Life 9; BMX Photographer Rob Dolecki

BMX riding is one of the most difficult sports to master- it takes crazy skills that are only perfected with great risk. Like skateboarding, there is no safety net and the slightest error can lead to injury. It’s physically and mentally demanding, to say the least. The variety within BMX is also huge- imagine becoming an expert at every single soccer position- most BMXers ride skateparks, street and BMX trails. It’s also a sport with very little recognition- sure there’s the X Games, but that’s not what most BMXers are interested in.  As cliche as it is, those who do it absolutely love it.

And our newest athlete in the series, Rob Dolecki, is a case in point. He simply loves BMX and bike riding.  The man is humble and not quick to talk about himself.  I think the only reason he agreed to this is because of how strongly he feels about veganism and because we’ve been friends for nearly 20 years! Rob is a full-time BMX photographer for magazines like DIG BMX, but that doesn’t mean he has stopped riding- even at 40 years old!

 

I love how Rob is a quiet, positive example of veganism, which is exactly what this project is about. He knows that the best way to influence others is by showing what’s possible in life- whether that’s smiling while jumping a 20 foot gap on a bike or finding food while on the road in the South America. Rob shared his tips for traveling while being vegan:

Road Trip Vegan Food Tips

Be flexible! You may not find your favorite or the healthiest foods on the road, but sometimes you have to just eat what’s available and vegan. What’s most important for your long-term health is the food choices you make most often. Don’t stress over eating eating less than ideally while on the road!

Be prepared.  Learn about the food choices where you are headed.

Plan ahead. Can you carry food with you while you are away from resources?  Some easy choices while traveling-

Fruit- Dried or fresh.
Nuts- High in calories and important nutrients, these are a life saver when spending long periods of time between meals on the road.
Bread and nut butter- Vegan bread is easy to get,  add some peanut butter and you have a filling, tasty meal to hold you over.

Be sure to check out Rob’s exceptional photography at www.twicebmx.com. Thanks Rob for spending your day with us and getting me out on a BMX bike again!

 

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Filed under bmx, city, Day in the Life, nutrition, vegan

Day in the Life 8; Olympic Modern Pentathlon with Raw-foodist Justin Torrellas

modern pentathlon fencing

Fencing is just one of five disciplines in modern pentathlon. I am not very good at it, as you see in the video!

Our Day in the Life series has given us some great experiences with exceptional vegan athletes.  But I have to say, none have been as unique as spending a weekend with raw vegan modern pentathlete Justin Torellas.  Five seemingly unrelated disciplines combined to make the only sport created specifically for the Olympics! I’m somewhat familiar with raw veganism but Justin’s diet surprised even me!  This is someone who casually said, “I want to go to the Olympics” and only then discovered modern pentathlon.  A raw vegan attempting to qualify for the Olympics in an obscure sport he’s never done? Not as crazy as you’d think.  Watch and be amazed! We were.

Justin: You make competing at an elite level seem like a walk in the park with your casual 5 minute mile running pace! And your honesty about your personal struggle with riding horses is very admirable.  Unfortunately Justin didn’t qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Modern Pentathlon but his attempt is nothing short of courageous.  And he did give us his salad recipe.  I’ve included the nutrition analysis in case, like most people, you think iceberg lettuce is mostly water and doesn’t have any nutrients!

Justin’s Giant Salad

2 heads iceberg lettuce
1 pound cherry tomatoes
8 ounces bean sprouts
1 T tahini
Juice from 2 lemons

Directions: Chop lettuce, juice lemons, mix (don’t you love raw recipes?). And look at this nutrition profile. More than half of your day’s iron in only 455 calories! And 24% of the calories in this salad are from protein.

calories 445
dietary fiber 29g
protein 27g
fat 11g
vitamin A- 227%
vitamin C- 215%
calcium 41%
iron 55%
folate 164%
vitamin K 592%

You are probably wondering how Justin gets enough calories if he is eating this salad for dinner.  He does it by eating often throughout the day.  He was sipping (or gulping if it was post-workout!) a banana smoothie or munching on fruit constantly. Like he says, he loves to eat. If you are a raw vegan and training several hours a day you need to eat often.  I recommend more variety in one’s diet, but he has been vegan a very long time and seems to have found a diet that works for him. Thanks for sharing your day with us Justin!

Justin and family. Don’t let this photo fool you, it’s not often any of them are sitting still!

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Filed under Day in the Life, race, recipe, run, travel, vegan

Day in the Life 7; Cross Country Skiing with Runner Megan Hebbe

Our Day in the Life series continues with another Boulder-based athlete, Megan Hebbe. Megan takes us cross-country skiing, where I proceed to make a fool of myself! Megan does mega mileage and takes her training very seriously, but still manages to have fun with it. She even put up with me crashing all over the mountain. See for yourself in this fun episode:

 

Megan’s Tips for High Mileage Running

Wear the right shoes! Very important because you are spending A LOT of time on your feet! Work in recovery weeks.  The “graph” should look like a mountain range, not just a straight linear progression.  Increase for 2-3 weeks then take a recovery week. Focus on either increasing mileage OR increasing speed, not both at the same time. Ideally, the off-season is spent building up base and then you start adding speed work.

Make time. I am a morning person, so I like waking up at 5am or even 4am to get my run in.  Second runs of the day can be done during lunch or after work.  Thirty minutes is a great length for recovery, just enough to get circulation going, but not a significant time drain.  Mentally it’s nice to do a chilled out pace. “Oh, 75-year-old dude is passing me? Whatevs, I’m on mile 12 of the day!”

Sleep and recover. I have my protein drink right after every run and because I get up early I go to bed early. If my body wants a nap, I work it in. Listening to one’s body is crucial. Rest is the most overlooked, crucial aspects of training. Epsom salt baths and ice baths are also great for recovery.

Speed work. Only really necessary immediately before and during race season. Once race season really gets into swing, most races are your speed work!

Self massage. Tennis ball, plantar fascia ball, softball, foam roller and massage stick all work wonders.

The major thing is loving it enough to be really dedicated! Like many coaches say, social life, career/school and training are a triad. One can either be okay at all three or do really well at two. The third thing suffers, which is often social life. You have to be okay with that.

 

Megan’s Gluten-Free Lavender Cookies

These gluten-free cookies are a fun way to get those extra calories for those extra miles.

1.5 cups rice flour
0.5 cup coconut oil or margarine
0.5 cups sweetener like coconut palm or other minimally processed sugars
1 tablespoon lavender flowers
Replace one egg with commercial egg replacer, ground flax seeds or chia gel
Optional: 1 tablespoon lavender flowers for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
Cream together the margarine and sweetener. Blend egg replacer into the mixture. Stir in the lavender flowers and the rice flour. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls  on to cookie sheet.
Bake till golden, about 15 minutes. Remove cookies and decorate with additional lavender flowers, if desired.
Consume happily!

Thanks to Megan for getting me on skis for the first time in my life! Lastly, if you want to know more about iron for vegetarians, check out this post I wrote for No Meat Athlete.  Thanks for watching and let me know how these cookies turn out!

 

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Filed under Day in the Life, off-road, recipe, run, vegan