Alan Dumond is a professional piercer and jeweler living and working in Indiana, USA. He’s been a runner for a few years now and vegan for a little over a decade. He has mostly been interested in longer distance stuff, ran his first 100-miler in June 2014, and is looking forward to getting faster as he gains experience.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I went vegan for ethical reasons - growing up using animal products just seemed like a necessary evil, but learning that it was possible to abstain from them kind of opened my eyes, and I knew I couldn't justify it anymore.
How long have you been vegan?
Over ten years.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Veganism isn't really about benefitting myself - it's about putting my ethics into practice in the real world. Even though my motivation was never for myself it did act as a gateway for me into learning about other social justice movements so in that way it's been very beneficial.
What does veganism mean to you?
Veganism is about equality and respect and not treating a living being like a product.
What sort of training do you do?
Primarily running. I do at least one long run a week, often back-to-back long runs. I mix in various sorts of speed work with longer efforts as well. I do a little bit of cycling mostly just for commuting purposes but it's a super fun active recovery for me.
How often do you (need to) train?
I usually have 1 day a week off from running that I'll either spend as a total rest day or try to do some active recovery (bike ride, hike, walk, etc.). I run about 6 days a week and during higher mileage weeks I do two runs a day.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
Nope. I'm still new to this so I'm still learning myself.
What sports do you play?
I've never been good at sports. I'm not very competitive. I grew up skateboarding and liked the self-competitive nature of always trying to get better that came with that. Since I can't really skateboard anymore, running and riding a bike have filled that gap in a lot of ways.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
I think there's a lot of confusion about what "vegan" means. I largely blame misrepresentation in the media and the "celebrity vegan" phenomenon, but at this point the word vegan is so diluted and means so many different things to so many different people. I think the biggest misconception is the absolute lack of meaning the word really has. Ten years ago if someone told me they were vegan I knew what they meant. Now I really don't. That was really frustrating to me and I spent a lot of time fighting against it and trying to keep the term "pure" but at this point I guess I've realized that language changes and evolves, as do movements. I call myself vegan because it's the easiest way for me to describe that I don't want to contribute to animal use but I feel like I have more in common with a compassionate person who is dedicated to equality and justice and occasionally eats cheese or whatever than I do with a "vegan" who works against social justice movements or a "vegan" who cut out animal foods to try to lose weight.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
I'm stubborn. The only way I'm quitting is if I get pulled from a course because I'm not making cut-off times.
What is your biggest challenge?
I'm not naturally athletic. A lot of ultra runners I encounter were athletes in high school and college and then just extended the distances they run or switch from a different sport to running. I've only been running for a few years and prior to that was never very active or athletic.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
I can't say it's ever been an issue.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Totally. I don't think my family necessarily "gets" why I'm vegan and thinks it's a little strange but they're very accommodating and respectful.
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond?
Usually something along the lines of "But what about... ?" and fill that in with something obviously not vegan.
Who or what motivates you?
I'm pretty lucky to have some really awesome people around me who inspire me to be a better runner and a better person.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Lunch and Dinner
I don't really eat one particular thing for lunch and dinner. Because of my work schedule I end up eating out a lot more than I like, but I cook a fair amount too. I'm lucky to have a partner who is a vegan chef who is finishing up her masters in dietetics so she makes me some pretty amazing meals. When I have the time to prepare my food ahead I do a ton of lentils, brown rice, pasta, and huge salads. When I'm stuck eating out it's more burritos and pizza than I probably should eat.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy)
Cookies. Always cookies.
What is your favourite source of:
Protein - I don't have a super high need for protein so I don't worry about it too much, but I eat a lot of beans and peanut butter so those are probably my favorites.
Calcium - Leafy greens and fortified foods like soy or almond milk.
Iron - Beans again and spinach. I don't really have a hard time getting enough iron.
What foods give you the most energy?
Do you take any supplements?
Daily I take a vegan creatine to help with hydration, a calcium/magnesium supplement to keep cramping in check, and B12 because you don't want to mess around with that. During long training runs and races I use electrolyte supplements and eat a ton of salt.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle, Losing weight, Maintaining weight, Improving metabolism, and Toning up?
I am completely not qualified to answer these. I just run a lot and try to keep improving.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I try to lead by example and be a positive influence on people.
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
I started with a run and walk program on my phone and just went from there. The biggest thing starting running that I learned was that you don't have to go out and run as hard and as far as you can every time. Take walk breaks. Slow down. Make it enjoyable. You'll build speed and endurance over time without even trying at first. Take it easy, stay injury-free, and just have fun exploring your surroundings and as you get comfortable you'll learn how much you can push your limits.