I read an article in the New York Times the other week that really resonated with me. It discussed how simply changing how frequently we ate certain proteins could reduce the average greenhouse gas impact on our environment.
Ya see, those darling cows which turn into delicious steaks and hamburgers create methane, a greenhouse gas, when digesting their food. The more cows, lambs, and cheese in demand by humans, the more cattle are raised, fed and creating methane which is heating up our planet. Additionally, trees are often cleared in an effort to make room for commercial agriculture farming organizations (CAFOs), which means there's large amounts of carbon being released into the air during deforestation which also heats up planet earth.
You can see this helpful little NYT depiction of how different food sources contribute to greenhouse gases in our atmosphere:
Now, despite the fact that I think this is really, really scary and important stuff, I really am not willing to jump ship and stop eating meat.
And just like when I defended my omnivore lifestyle during the "What the Health" veganism craze, I want to explain how I am adjusting my lifestyle to be more mindful of climate change.
As a runner, I know its important to get enough protein to heal, recover, boost metabolism and stay fuller longer. However, as a sports dietitian, I also know its possible for the no meat athlete to meet their elevated protein needs. You see, my refusal to give up meat altogether is simply selfish. I love meat. I enjoy the flavor and the "decadence" of a good steak dinner or well seasoned chicken thighs.
Luckily, I also know that tofu, beans, eggs and nuts are also delicious. And in an effort to reduce my carbon footprint, I am being way more mindful of creating meatless meals to become a more plant powered athlete. If you are following a vegetarian diet running plan or simply just trying to be a better human on this planet earth, then I suggest using these helpful hints to boost protein intake while you run on veg:
Choose high protein grains (such as Dave's Killer Bread or quinoa)
Add 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds to cereal, parfaits or salads for 10 grams of vegan protein
Keep extra firm tofu in the fridge for a speedy meal. Squeeze out extra water and sautee cubes with a few tablespoons of arrowroot starch for a pan-fried, high protein meal.
Stir egg whites into oatmeal to boost the protein content
Add edamame to salads or Asian noodle dishes for a protein punch
Keep high protein veggie burgers in the fridge for a quick weeknight meal (like Beyond Meat Veggie Burgers yummm)
(Oh, are you looking for a runners meal plan, running nutrition guide or runner nutrition supplements list? Then make sure you are signed up for my free email newsletter by clicking here!)
ANYWAY. I've found that its really easy for me to reduce meat consumption and be more of a "no meat athlete" simply by skipping on meat during "lazy weeknight meals." Instead of frying up ground meat for tacos, I've been making bean based tacos. Instead of pan frying a chicken breast, I've been pan frying a veggie burger. These quick, weeknight meals are meant to nourish me and help me recover, rather than rock my world. So yeah, I'm keeping steak dinners on the agenda for nights the boyfriend wants to impress me with a delish caramelized buttery grass-fed steak, but Monday nights are perfectly cool for that run on veg life, ya know?
High Protein Vegan Sloppy Joe's for the No Meat Athlete
2.5 cups of lentils (1 can)
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, de-seeded and diced small
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 cup worcestshire sauce (or more)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup diced tomatoes
8 slices of high protein bread such as Dave's Killer Bread
1. Heat a large dutch oven or deep frying pan over medium heat. Spray with avocado oil.
2. Pan fry the onion until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add carrots, celery, jalapeno and red pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes to soften.
3. Drain the lentils and add to the dutch oven. Sautee for about 2-3 minutes to absorb some of the extra liquid.
4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, hot sauce, cumin and Worcestershire sauce. Cook down over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until desired consistency (thickness) of paste is achieve.
5. Remove the pan from the heat once the sauce has thickened and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
6. Toast bread and build into sandwiches.
This recipe tastes even better after its been sitting in the fridge... and I also quite like it served cold on toasty hot bread!