BOOK REVIEW: No-Meat Athlete, a practical guide to beginning a plant-based running program

No Meat Athlete, Revised and Expanded: A Plant-Based Nutrition and Training Guide for Every Fitness Level—Beginner to Beyond
by Matt Frazier

Frazier, Matt - No Meat AthleteWhether experienced athletes or true novices, vegans and aspiring vegans will find No Meat Athlete an excellent reference. Author Matt Frazier had tried and kept failing to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Yet, after transitioning to a vegan diet, even while he just recovered from a knee injury, Frazier improved on his personal best by ten minutes and finally achieved his goal of qualifying for Boston. He believes it was his vegan diet that allowed him this success, and his book shares his techniques.

No Meat Athlete contains two sections, one that covers plant-based nutrition for athletes, the other offering a training strategy. The first discusses problems with our modern diet and describes how vegan diets can surmount these issues. Based on current science, guest writer Leo Babauta outlines strategies for successfully changing habits of behavior, such as adopting a plant-free diet. Frazier offers ten food rules, such as choosing whole foods and drinking smoothies. (I think I follow 0% of these rules.) How to approach a vegan diet and how it relates to vegan athletes’ needs are discussed in detail before turning to cooking techniques.

Sixty recipes in categories such as “Substantial Soups and Salads,” “Main-Event Meals,” and “Sneaky-Healthy Desserts” are optimized for athletes. Frazier provides a personal introduction to each dish which made them more interesting to me. Though many of the recipes look tasty, they seem more complicated and labor intensive than I prefer, though I think I can handle the low-ingredient count S’Nuts and Simple Indian Street Bread. While I know these types of books don’t traditionally have photographs, that didn’t mean I didn’t miss having them.

I was hopeful the second section, Running on Plants, would inspire me. While I am well-intentioned, I’m a couch potato at heart. Frazier provides a number of practical tips to making running a habit and learning to love it. Honestly, these approaches are good for any new runners, vegan or not and make running long races seem attainable. Robert Cheeke, a vegan bodybuilder, contributed a chapter on a 12-week strength training plan. Frazier includes detailed training plans for 5Ks, 10 Ks, half marathons, and marathons. These resources make even me feel like adopting a running program is possible.

While the nutritional information in part I is relevant for athletes of all stripes, the programs outlined in part II are geared toward runners, so the word “athlete” in the title is a bit of an over-generalization, though No-Meat Runner certainly doesn’t have the same ring! Instead, this book should appeal to active people interested in adopting a plant-based diet, to vegans (and others) interested in how to develop a running practice, or people who fall in both categories. I’m not sure I can overcome my couch potato inertia, but if any book could do it, this is the one!

I was especially pleased to see the author is donating a portion of his royalties to one of the greatest non-profit organizations in the country, The Farm Sanctuary.

Thanks to Netgalley and Fair Winds Press / Quarto Publishing Group for providing an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.