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!
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!
I often wonder how I’m not hurt more often, considering the amount of time I spend on a bike (er, bikes) and doing dumb things. And combining the two, regularly (hello Strava KOM for descents!). I like to think I take calculated risks. And that’s how I felt when I went ice skating with some friends last weekend. Why not? Well, without even attempting anything stupid I fell and broke my left distal radius. And a small bone in the joint. How bad? See this photo on my IG. I find out tomorrow if I need surgery. Lifetime broken bones number 7 and 8. Not too shabby for 30 years of activities. Also, somehow, first breaks on my left/dominant side.
No Belgian Waffle
Meanwhile this week I was planning on writing about the Belgian Waffle Ride, which was Sunday and the first athletic event I had signed up for in a year and a half. A few years ago I burned out on racing and training as anyone who follows me knows. The BWR was exciting for many reasons, one being I love riding my road bike off-road. I did about 20 of the 35 off-road miles on a training ride the weekend before and it was the biggest solo ride, by far, I had done in years. And I loved it. But I had to sit the race out this year. Super frustrating.
Anyway…..I didn’t intend for this to be a post complaining about being injured. Though I hope it does help you appreciate your own good health.
I’m going to have to postpone the big book announcement, but you can still pre-order without hearing the long explanation from me. Note that the final cover hasn’t been updated online so it will look different. Joshua Ploeg will be on there too. 🙂
One announcement I can make: the focus of this site is going to change! You may have noticed some small changes already. TrueLoveHealth.com is going to focus on nutrition and my private practice. Don’t worry I will never try to sell you protein powder. I’ve learned that a number of people send vegan-curious friends here for reliable nutrition information, but it is often buried under my stories and rants. I’m not deleting any of the 10+ years of history that are here and I promise this won’t turn into another boring vegan site with photos of my breakfast and a list of vitamin-C containing foods. Ugh. No. I will have useful stories and reports where my unique style will still have a voice. I’m stoked for the changes and growth.
I do have MattRuscigno.com which right now mirrors (sort of) this site. Some non-nutrition/health stories may go there in the future. And there’s the new Strongest Hearts site for sports nutrition which I hope you will bookmark. More content there soon, too.
Thank you everyone for reading, and letting me vent. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Hemingway quotes.
“When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.”
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.
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?
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!
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!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
[A screenshot of the top half of the double-sided handout]
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
1 quart (32oz) Tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought marinara)
About 12 ounces of lasagna noodles, either prepared or no-boil
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!
Hey everyone, just a quick post to let you know about the Live and Let Live film that is coming out soon. They could really use some support for those last few financial hurdles. The trailer is below and the funding page is here: Live and Let Live on Startnext.
I’m happy to have a very small role in this and I look forward to the official release! Thank you for helping out, if you can.
It has been a very long time between posts, even for me, and I apologize. There are a number of reasons so let’s break it down a little.
Speaking Tour Roundup
As many of you know, I went on my first speaking tour in the Spring and it was fantastic. So happy to have this video of one of my presentations thanks to Burning Hearts Media. I can’t thank all of the people involved enough! It’s such a privilege to have friends and colleagues all over the country who helped me out in so many ways. This is what community is all about. Thank you.
No Meat Athlete Book and More
I contributed to this long post on No Meat Athlete that includes a graphic on plant-based sources of nutrients. This was a lot of work, so please check it out and pass it on. Speaking of work and No Meat Athlete, I’m very happy to announce that the No Meat Athlete book is up for pre-order! I wrote a chapter, contributed nutrition tips throughout and included some personal recipes. Excited to have my author page set up on Amazon as well. Matt Frazier is also going on a book tour and I hope to join him on a few dates!
Took a Break From Athletic Events
I probably should have realized this sooner, but I was burned out on racing and training. Even back before I DNF’d the Arizona Trail Race in 2011 I was feeling the effects of many years of training, racing, traveling and having a super hectic personal and professional life. In 2012 I mostly took it easy on the bike and only did two big events for fun. The Dirty Double and Enchanted Forest 24 Hour Mountain Bike race were even harder than they should have been. I tried to focus on ultra-running, but my heart was just never there. I dnf’d the Zion 100 at mile 63, I did finish the Headlands 50-miler (no write-up, just this photo?), but it wasn’t enough to get me through the Oil Creek 100, which I DNF’d at mile 62. I didn’t do a write-up for that race either, but do have this photo of me after blacking out at mile 62. I realize this isn’t ‘taking it easy’ to most people, but switching to ultra-running was my attempt in 2012 to re-inspire myself for racing. It didn’t really work as I just didn’t get the training in to give it a good enough go. I claimed, ignorantly, that I could run a 100-miler on 25 miles a week training. The thing is I barely hit that number as a high week total, let alone average.
Then I got hurt at the second to last cyclocross race of the season in late December. I limped for a week and worried that I re-tore my ACL that I had surgery on when I was 19 years old. Fortunately I did not, but I couldn’t ride for about a month. So that set the stage to not do a single spring time race in probably 8 years.
It has been a very strange year in that regard. I still bike commuted and did the occasional road ride, but not often and definitely not fast. It wasn’t until June of this year that I started riding with regularity. I got a new mountain bike and that has helped a lot. Shout out to Ground Up Speed Shop!
New Day in Life of Vegan Athletes Project Moving Forward
We’ve had some delays but the new site and new project are moving forward! You will not be disappointed. When this launches it is going to garner a lot of my attention and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. For now, don’t forget we have 10 solid Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes episodes.
Secret Project Moving Forward!
I’m working on something with vegan chef extraordinaire Joshua Ploeg that is like nothing I have ever done. It’s huge and has been incredibly time-consuming, but will be so worth it in the end. Be ready to be surprised.
Are you as sad as me that Google Reader ended? I know there are new RSS feeds available that function similarly, but I know I haven’t signed up for any yet. If previously you only read this in Reader I suggest either trying a new feed service or signing up in the right-hand column to have new posts emailed to you.