I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website. It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat. So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!
This was a tough month to pick from as there were a few other articles I loved from this issue. If you want to read the runner’s up, check out this one about the nostalgia running can elicit or this one about the power of the human spirit. However, in the end, I thought the best discussion would come from Scott Jurek’s new book, Eat & Run, about his transformation from a meat and potatoes kid to a fully vegan adult ultramarathoner.
As a one-time vegetarian who never went back to red meat and pork, I find veganism highly appealing, on quite a few levels. As an tree hugger, I like the idea of the least amount of energy possible being put into producing my food. As someone exquisitely aware of my family health history (rife with heart disease and stroke) I love the idea of taking the seemingly terrible hand my genes dealt me and fighting back (take that thymine!).
More than just reading about the benefits of this diet, however, was the enjoyment of reading about Scott Jurek. The man is a machine! Having recently completed my own ultra, I am ever more fascinated by these seemingly impossible distances and the speed at which some people can complete them. If this article whet your Jurek whistle, quench your thirst with this great interview from Ultra Runner Podcast.
So let’s get to the meaty stuff – veganism and the emotions it evokes in people. It does irk me when people say “but we are meant to eat meat! look at these canine teeth!”. First of all, the “meat” most Americans are eating today is hardly that of our ancestors – back then everything was organic, wild- caught and free of antibiotics and other drugs. People are eating commercially produced meat from one of a handful of companies and the cows are feed delightful things like poultry litter…
Aaaaand this is where I have to stop myself to comment on my own musings. Veganism seems to bring out two sides of people (though I do think SJ does a good job of staying neutral) – either the folks who are “no meat? no dairy? what kind of hippie dippie voo-doo is this?” or the folks who become quite smug pointing out all the health benefits for themselves and the planet, patting themselves on the back with a “oh, you poor uneducated dear” look at the carnophiles. I admit to falling more in this second category, and this realization generally sends me into a self-loathing internal monologue that goes something like this:
“Really? You are going to lecture people about protecting the environment? Because even though you work to conserve wildlife, drive a small care, recycle and buy organic, you love to travel. On jet planes. Which have an enormous carbon footprint that no number of small, cute cars can make up for. And you aren’t willing to give up traveling, so who are you to ask someone to give up meat?”
The general conclusion I have come to is this – the best we can do is make the changes that work for us, hope others do the same and that our species doesn’t run itself into the ground any sooner than necessary. For me, driving a little car and staying away from meat is easy, giving up traveling is not. So I know that is where my line is, but I don’t know how I feel about that.
What did you think of the article? Would you/have you tried veganism?
Did the way you ate as a child change when you became an adult?
What are your predictions for the future of the human race?