How Running Inspired Me To Do a 30-Day Vegan Challenge

By Crista Tappan - June 23, 2012

For as long as I can remember, I've always had a sweet tooth. In fact, I not only have a sweet tooth, but I also have a salt tooth, cheese tooth, and bread tooth. When I was a kid, I remember stock-piling candy bars, chocolate, cereals, and other novelties in a little cabinet in our kitchen. I didn't want anyone to sneak into my "stash" and had little interest in anything growing in my Grandmother's garden.

In high school, during my Track & Field practices, I'd pound RedBulls, eat McDonalds, and joke about my body being invincible. I had my grandparents buy me Costo-sized 30-pack of Craft Mac & Cheese (I'd finish the 30 boxes in less than a month). Sourdough toast with raspberry jelly was a staple in my diet. I figured since I was still standing and able to keep up with everyone else on my team, I was immune to whatever "bad stuff" was in the food I was eating. I was wrong.

As I've gotten older, I've watched my body become more and more sensitive to the food I eat. Dairy products? Forget about it. It seems like a cruel world, considering my favorite foods are burgers and macaroni and cheese. But after countless nights spent clutching my stomach, wishing to be put out of my own misery, I finally decided to kick cheese to the curb. That helped a little bit. Then, to my horror, bread started to make my stomach hurt, too. Sugar started making my body feel weird, and salt started giving me migraines. What was going on?

I'd spent my entire life eating whatever I wanted. Reality seemed to kick me on my ass, hard. 

Burgers, macaroni and cheese, toast, cereal, and candy are not real foods. They are empty calories, and our bodies are incredible for being able to do something with them in the first place. I am done torturing my body.

My first step was educating myself.

Scott Jurek cooking up his favorite vegetable stir fry!
Scott Jurek's book, Eat & Run, chronicles his transformation into an ultrarunner and how turning vegan helped him become the seven-time winner of the Western States 100. His book impacted me in many ways. He describes growing up in a small town in Minnesota, where his dad taught him how to hunt, skin and prepare the animals he killed. He loved meat, salt, and had no desire to eat fruits and vegetables. He transitioned, however, when he discovered that eating whole foods gave his body an incredible amount of fuel compared to the other foods he was used to eating. He talked about his struggles to maintain being a vegan, the countless criticisms he received, and the moments when he was forced to eat animal products for survival purposes.

Jurek is not the only athlete who has turned vegan and saw incredible results. In Rich Roll's new book, Finding Ultra, he describes a similar experience of turning vegan and seeing an incredible shift in his bodies capabilities. You can go here to see an extensive list of vegan athletes and their numerous achievements. It's not dumb luck that these athletes became even greater athletes because of their diet.

If I went on a vegan diet, would I become stronger and faster, too?

There is only one way to find out.

I'm not becoming a vegan to lose weight. I'm not becoming a vegan because I feel sorry for animals (although I do think that the treatment of animals raised for their flesh to be cruel). I'm doing a 30-Day Vegan Challenge to see how it effects my running. I want to fuel my body with the cleanest, most nutritious properties possible. I want to see if my muscles heal faster. I want to see if I have more sustained energy. I want to see if I can go an entire month without a stomach ache. 

If I can spend my entire life up until this point eating anything and everything, I can handle one month of guaranteed clean, healthy eating. One thing I know, for sure, is that I will not regret it.

Wish me luck :)

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  1. You are seriously an inspire, Crista!
    I used to be vegan for a few months but I had to stop when I went abroad and never returned back to it. But I've always wanted to give it another shot, and I think I will!
    Hell, maybe Ill even do the 30 day challenge with you :P

    Anyways, best of luck!

  2. You should do it, too!! Thanks for the kind words, means a lot to me :)