Eventually this blog will become a wonderful story, collaboration and reflection of our journey, education and commitment to how and why we've become vegan runners. At age 40, with two children (Jackson and Nathan), we've discovered something in ourselves that we didn't know existed and the result of this discovery has had an incredible impact on our life, our love, and our family.

This blog is intended to share our experiences as plant based runners. Come on in and join our story...

~ Zoe and Brad

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why do I Run

I ran the Toronto Marathon. Why a miracle? I had already accepted that I had to back out of the race. Two weeks ago, during one of my long training runs, I suffered a pulled calf muscle. Three days ago, I woke up with a fever, sinus cold and cough. Regardless, I knew I had to try. I wanted to cross the line that said “Start”.

Finishing didn’t matter. I woke to thunder and lightning and pouring rain. As I sipped my coffee and ate my oatmeal, the rain slammed onto the course (which I could easily see from the hotel window). I wondered how wet my shoes and socks would get…how far I could go before the blisters started? My throat hurt, my spirits were down and I wasn’t’ sure at that point if I could do it. Minutes before the gun went off, I received a text from a friend, “You don’t have to finish. It is everything you did to get to the starting line that is the accomplishment”. That was all I needed. I felt so proud of the dedicated hard work, and perseverance, over the last six months of training. My eyes teared as I crossed the starting line. I turned my iPod off and listened to the sounds of the crowd as they cheered the runners. I didn’t have anyone particular cheering me and yet, I found solace in those who made eye contact with me and gave me that encouraging glance. As I ran those first few kilometers, my mind drifted to a quote, recently shared with me by a friend (also a principal) , James Cowper, from his blog post called, “Why do I run? Because its hard.”
Long distance running is personal and political, but even more, it’s transcendental. You transcend “normal” behavior as well as your own expectations. Over time, this serial transcendence plateaus at a different idea of “normal.” Through this beautiful, empowering process, you locate and relocate your identity. You constantly create new conceptions of what’s possible and those new concepts become part of you. The key here is this: You then become more involved with the world as an agent of change. You rage a bit. And this entire process is modeled. Others witness it; many are moved by it—they change for the better. In this ongoing empowerment and transcendence, you are a public model, whether or not you think so. When you start running seventy miles a week, the people around you will eventually take notice and become curious. It’s an exceptional thing. (James McWilliams — historian, activist — published on the blog, Myths About The Vegetarian Myth.)
This quote reminds me of what we discuss in learning and teaching. When we engage in anything – a project, a written work, a song, an art, a book, and we speak our thoughts and share our ideals- we empower others. When we write and share stories and interact with one another, we risk causing ripples of our ideals and maybe, just maybe, we might cause people to question, to ask, to wonder and to seek more – of themselves and of others. Maybe, our actions, whether it be the hours of training for a marathon or the hours of learning in schools make us catalysts for change, inspiring others to join our endeavor or create their own (whatever it may be).

 Running 42 Kilometers was a feat for me. Something that, while thousands of people do, I never imagined I could. I learned, that like anything we want to accomplish: with endurance, with practice, with an open mind, with drive and most importantly with support from others, we can overcome just about anything we want – even with our differences and deficits. More importantly, maybe our actions might inspire others. I thank my many friends, and colleagues for cheering me on virtually. My twitter stream was filled with comments of encouragement, support and inspiration from educators and learners across our Globe. Proudly, I crossed that finish line with my husband (@pipe72) waiting and cheering proudly. Maybe it wasn’t really a miracle after all.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why Plant Based?

Why plant based??

My journey to becoming vegetarian and eventually vegan goes something like this...

I first gave up eating meat because I had lost my appetite for it. It just wasn't tasting as good as I thought it should. One too many over cooked, flavorless chicken breasts and fatty steaks, I guess. My wife had been cleaning up her diet and my youngest son (he was 10yrs old at the time) had also been pressuring me to stop eating "dead animals"! So, on a bit of a whim, I decided to give it a try. 
It just so happened that I was training for my first marathon at this time. It occurred to me, after declaring my intention to become vegetarian, that maybe this was not the best time to give up meat. I decided to do some research. What I learned changed how I look at fitness and nutrition completely!
Not only could I train and successfully complete a marathon, I could exceed my expectations through faster recovery and stronger lean muscle mass. Gone were the days of sore, inflamed muscles and overall body fatigue after long workouts. I felt amazing! I had more energy and mental clarity of purpose than I could remember ever having before. These feelings were further enhanced when I stopped eating dairy products going entirely vegan. 
As if that wasn't enough reason to truly believe in this lifestyle, and it is a lifestyle, not just a "diet" or temporary "cleanse", it became the catalyst for a nearly wholesale change in my outlook towards almost everything in life! As my palate shifted and matured, so too did my attitude towards my marriage, family, work, knowledge and community. I am much more open to new ideas and to operating outside my comfort zone in order to learn and live a fuller more satisfying life. 
I can't attribute all of these changes directly to a plant based diet, but it was definitely the catalyst for change in me. Allowing myself to NOT accept the "status quo" and to change some of my bad habits was not that difficult. All I had to do was make the decision. Draw a line in the sand and stick to it. 
I'm so glad I did!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sweet Potato Burrito with Kale Salad and Fresh Salsa

It can be hard when a family that live together all have different dietary needs.

I'm fairly certain that I am not alone here. I've been making different foods for my children since they were born. I am a touch surprised that still, after 13 years, I struggle to find something we all like.  

The following meal is one of the TWO family favourites and is easily adapted for the non-vegan/vegetarian eater. The other, all inclusive family favourite is Mexican Bean burritos.

Vegan - Sweet Potato Burrito
* I often bring this to potlucks with a side of guacamole and salsa. So delicious.
Shred and peel sweet potatoes ( 5-6)
In Olive Oil, fry up onions and garlic and then add shredded sweet potatoes
Add Cinnamon (tsp)
Add Cumin (tbsp)
Add Chilli Powder (tbsp)
Add Curry Powder (tbsp)

Add sweet potato mixture, salsa (fresh) and hot sauce if desired.
Roll it up, ensuring both ends are tucked in
Fry on both sides OR use Panini/Sandwich Maker (works nicely)
Non-Vegan’s ----> Add Mexican Cheese

Vegan - Kale Super Sweet Salad
One large bunch of Kale into bite size pieces
One large mango chopped into small bits
One sweet onion chopped
4 to 6 dates in small pieces
Roasted cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette
15 cherry tomatoes cut in half
Quarter cup of sun dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons of Red wine vinegar
Quarter cup of cranberries
Quarter cup of chopped walnuts
Quarter cup of pumpkin seeds

Fresh Salsa - Vitamix
6 vine tomatoes
3 jalapeƱo peppers
1 sweet onion
Handful cilantro
1 Mango
2 garlic gloves

Green Ginger Goodness - Vitamix
Half Liter of pineapple coconut water
Half a fresh mango
Dozen fresh green grapes
Handful of frozen sliced peaches
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger
Handful of spinach
One scoop Vega protein powder
Four ice cubes