Numerous misconceptions and apprehensions about veganism have been the topic of a lot of debates regarding this lifestyle. Many, even experts, have been questioning this practice because there are some nutrients that could be lacking and nutritional deficiencies could be one of the downsides of the said lifestyle, which can be really crucial to the body.
However, some individuals have proven such claims otherwise. One of those humans, is Scott Jurek.
Who Is Scott Jurek?
Scott Jurek, a renowned vegan and one of the greatest runners of all time, publicly speaks about his choice of a vegan diet and still is able to claim victories in most trail and road running events. He claimed victory in the historical 153-mile Spartathlon and he’s also famous for his seven consistent wins in the famous Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.
On July 12, 2015, Scott Jerek set a running record of 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes of running in the Appalachian Trail, with a speed record of 50 miles a day. The said trail that’s stretching up to 2,180 miles is almost in every hiker’s bucket list. This is also famous for its views situated along the ridge crests and across the major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains.
More than just a runner and a record-setter, Scott Jurek is also a writer and has been a New York Times bestselling author since the release of his memoir, Eat and Run. Off the trails, he has also been constantly featured in different publications regarding his journey.
Beyond his fitness journey, he has been passionate about sharing his veganism journey as well. He is strict with his 100% plant-based diet, which he claims to be the great source of his endurance and his back-to-back championships with running.
A living legend, who doesn’t only do just marathons but ultramarathons, run on a vegan diet may sound impossible yet impressive due to the absence of animal products in his diet. However, Jurek proved that this is not impossible through his testimonies.
He didn’t only share this through writing, but he also engaged in public speaking and consulting to encourage and inspire more people to take their healthy lifestyle on a different level.
Scott Jurek's Books
Other than being famous for his appearance in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, he is also famous for his self-authored books: Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness and North: Finding my Way.
Eat & Run received the awards of New York Times’s best selling book and Amazon Pick’s Best Books of the Month. In this book, he opened up about his life and career as an athlete and a faithful vegan. He wrote his book to reach all runners at every level to tell his journey regarding his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism.
Scott Jurek's Lifestyle
During his interview with Matt Frazier on No Meat Athlete, Scott Jurek opened up about his veganism journey. According to him, his first reason as to why he engaged in a plant-based diet was long-term health, which he found to be an advantage from this certain diet.
Through his thorough reading of Dr Andrew Weil’s Spontaneous Healing and through his inspiration from his educational background in physical therapy school, he found himself leaning more into the vegetarian side of things.
He admitted that he was a heavy meat eater before he started veganism. However, when he discovered natural healing and the body’s ability to heal itself, he started his slow transition towards a healthier diet. This all happened when he was already training and starting his ultrarunning career.
He gave credit to his choice of veganism for the extra benefits and multiple advantages he experienced. He noticed the recovery benefits that came with it which made his body ready and prepared for his workouts and races.
When racing, it is already a fact that injuries are inevitable, as well as the tearing of muscles and joints due to repetitive use. However, because of the natural healing, injury prevention, and good healing and recovery processes in his body were observed by Jurek. Moreover, he also praised veganism for the improvement of his body composition and for the increase of his muscle mass.
With the different existing misconceptions surrounding veganism, Scott Jurek debunked them one-by-one with his own personal testimonies. Many individuals assume that shifting to a vegan diet is restricting so much in your diet and having a few choices on your plate. However, there’s actually more variety that can really overwhelm people once they knew how to go about in the diet.
Scott Jurek's Vegan Transition
Veganism isn’t about thinking about restricting your menu, but it is about eating even beyond the specialized foods you were afraid to try out. Eating a good mix is the best way to start. Jurek prioritized calorie intake at first before incorporating more quality in his meal.
He is all about eating as many whole foods through incorporating a fair amount of raw food, legumes, grains, and cooked vegetables. In this way, you can enjoy the transition without giving your body a great deal of shock because of the sudden changes in food intake.
Getting your essential fatty acids and other nutrients is quite difficult most especially when you’re focusing on a plant-based diet. Hence, Scott Jurek endorses some supplements to source his essential fatty acids.
He thoroughly researched all information regarding his oils and his omega-3’s, omega-6’s, and omega-9’s to further his knowledge regarding the nutrients that he needs as both an ultramarathon athlete and a vegan.
A slow transition is always the top one priority for people who want to change their eating lifestyle, Jurek recommends. The gradual transition through meal plans and kickstart programs are the best way to give yourself some allowance to adjust to the lifestyle you’re engaging yourself into.
Plant-based eating is not about eliminating the food, but it is about integrating new foods into your diet. Jurek said that this misconception results in undereating because people tend to overlook the vegan palate. Hence, it is important to focus on the number of calories first before the quality through the replacement of foods that you typically eat.
Scott Jurek's Morning Routine
His health choices aren’t only solely relying on his ultramarathon and his plant-based diet, but he’s also focusing on the little things that most people should do to keep a healthy lifestyle. In the morning, exercise comes first on Scott’s agenda before eating.
He mentioned in an interview with Rochelle Bilow for Bon Appetit that he chooses green drinks for his breakfast smoothie.
Kale, Arugula, or Spinach are just some of the ingredients that he put in his green drink. To replace the carbohydrates that he exhausted from his run, banana frozen pineapple, or frozen mango are his go-to carb suppliers. He also throws in some berries if he has some in stock.
Scott Jurek’s protein powder is also composed of brown rice and pea protein. He also incorporates essential fatty-acid and sometimes coconut or avocado. In this way, he is assured that all his food intake is natural and strictly plant-based.
Scott Jurek's Caloric Intake
Being an Ultra runner, 5,000 to 6,000 calories per day is the observed standard of Jurek to come out on top and win races. He recommends that each runner should identify the type of food that’s easiest for your body to digest. He also recommends consuming 25 grams of carbohydrates for every 20 to 30 minutes, partnering it with plenty of water and electrolytes.
He gave a disclaimer that his recommendations are not for every individual because each has a different body weight and body composition that requires different specific needs. Moreover, larger individuals require more calories than a smaller type. Regardless, mastering what your body needs and how your body works are the first step.
To get the calories he needs, he eats a lot of sports food that is considered carbohydrate-dense, like gels and energy chews. He also made his diet exciting by intaking Organic Energy Food, which is a food in a pouch that’s blended with different plant-based ingredients.
Scott Jurek's Training Diet
All endurance athletes, vegan or not, should always look into eating healthy fats. These healthy fats are essential like carbohydrates to achieve maximum performance and give you an optimal recovery process. In the same way, protein is also seen as important.
The majority of vegans could actually meet the required 10-15 percent protein for endurance athletes if they achieved the quantity of their caloric requirement and lessened their processed foods by the quality of their food intake.
When you emphasize your caloric requirement and the exclusion of processed foods in your diet, you can meet most nutrient requirements without supplementation.
Scott Jurek intake some supplements that are low in most standard diets. This includes vitamin B12 and DHA, as well as essential fatty acids like Omega-3s. He also adds probiotics, mixed-carotenoids, and other nutrients for long-term health and performance.
Together with his supplements, he incorporates superfoods that promote health and recovery processes like green magma-barley grass juice and maca powder.
Vegan Diet Tips
Other than just focusing on the number of calories and incorporating rather than eliminating food, Jurek also recommends easing into the diet before diving headfirst. Meaning, you can try a vegan diet once to twice per week so as not to give your body a major shock because of the new palate you’re intaking.
Going local and organic is also one of Scott Jurek’s tips for vegans. This means that you might want to shift to more organic and locally grown foods, most especially if you want to incorporate more whole foods into your diet.
Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about a plant-based diet is that it is expensive. However, eating organic, whole foods should not be expensive most especially when you’re a wise-spender.
Scott Jurek recommends that you put most of your money in fresh produce and bulk products, but save the rest and purchase from your local market.
Scott Jurek’s transition to a vegan and plant-based diet wasn’t a decision for short-term performance gains, but he definitely considered a long-term result. This could be really challenging most especially when you’re a heavy meat eater like Jurek, however, the benefits you can reap from a plant-based diet could be really advantageous in the long run.
As an athlete, Jurek really made sure that his body is fueled properly to achieve great results and the constant wins. He also credits his diet for his minimal injuries and his quick recovery time.
In conclusion, Jurek found so many benefits in his diet despite hating vegetables back when he was young. After all, this diet really brought him to the top and made him the living legend of the Appalachian Trail run.
Running has great mental health benefits and is really not as hard as most people think when you learn how to run properly. Check out my tips I wrote on how to become a better runner where beginners can start to learn some core fundamentals.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89, Issue 5, May 2009, Pages 1627S–1633S, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.