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Interview with Mark Hofmann: Vegan Ultra Marathon Runner

Mark Hofmann is a vegan ultra marathon runner from Munich, Germany. He is also founder of “Laufen gegen Leiden” (Running against Suffering), a campaign in which he dedicates his marathons to animal rights organizations and collects donations for them.

In May 2013 Mark organized the world’s first ultra marathon relay: 32 vegan runners in 9 groups ran 450 kilometers (280 miles) alongside Germany’s Federal Highway 12 in 54 hours without a break. The Federal Highway local name is “B12” which is a word play and a reference to the vitamin B12, as this is often the focus of nutritionists and critics of veganism. The event was organized in order to disprove the common prejudice that vegans suffer from malnutrition and are therefore unable to achieve peak athletic performance.

You can find more about him either on his website or on his Facebook page.

Mark_Hofman_SSCS

Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
It was in 2010 that I sat before my last piece of meat when suddenly I felt I was being watched by a thousand eyes. I stood there totally naked and I could not bring forth a single excuse or even explanation why I was about to eat this. Although I always knew what was going on in the slaughterhouses, although I always knew there were plenty of other options for a man to eat healthfully and live a life without having to force a painful existence and a horrifying death onto other sentient creatures. That was the last time I ever ate meat or fish.
 
From that day, I started to expose myself to everything I had participated in. I began to understand that being vegan is the logical consequence of being vegetarian. If you consider yourself having respect towards life, nature, morality and healthfulness, there is no other option.

How long have you been vegan?
My evolution from being vegetarian to being vegan was a rather quick one. It was in 2011 when I evolved.

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
My mind. I know I will never be able to make up for all the horrors that I unleashed upon animal kind (and thus on human kind), but at least I do not participate anymore in these traditions of exploitation. I feel freed and my mind is more at ease.

What does veganism mean to you?
We as humans need to stop the war we declared on the world. We will never be forgiven for what we did, but at least we should not add even more to it. It needs to be stopped. Veganism is the only option we have to make our tortured mother earth a place worth living on for all living creatures.

Training
What sort of training do you do?
I am an (ultra-) marathon runner. This year I started picking up on triathlon with long distances in mind.

How often do you (need to) train?
Six days a week.

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
Yes. I offer my services as a vegan running coach.

What sports do you play?
Swimming, biking, running, running, running.

Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do
you address this?
"Vegans are (too) extreme!" - I think that veganism in fact is the opposite, the renunciation of being extreme. It is extreme is to have animals genetically optimized, forced to live in cramped conditions, drugged, slaughtered alive and eaten. If anything, than vegans are extremely compassionated. That's all.

What are your strengths as a vegan athlete?
Recovery is definitely faster.

What is your biggest challenge?
Adequate calorie consumption to make up for all the calories burned.

Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
I do not need support. My definition of running is a solitary one. I enjoy being on my own when I train and compete against myself.

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
My small family consists of my wife and kid and they are vegan themselves, so there is my solid base of support right there. Just recently I started building up a new friend base consisting of compassionate people who do not kill for fun or out of thoughtlessness.

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?
"I could never do that." - "Let's try together. I'll show you how."

Who or what motivates you?
My wife and kid, when it comes to getting up in the morning. My desire to challenge myself, when it comes to sports.

Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast – a bowl of whole grain organic cornflakes with spelt milk, bananas
Lunch  - a dish containing a leaf, a grain and a bean
Dinner - a dish containing a different leaf, a different grain, a different bean
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, spelt pretzels sprinkled with sesame

What is your favourite source of:
Protein - seitan, nuts, beans, lentils
Calcium - greens
Iron - spinach, millet, oat flakes

What foods give you the most energy?
Dates and figs
 
Do you take any supplements?
Liquid B12 (Methylcobalamin)

Advice
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - increase workouts, add more protein to your diet, rest sufficiently
Losing weight - extensive running workouts, completely eliminate saturated fat from your diet
Maintaining weight - go vegan, stay vegan, run vegan
Improving metabolism - extensive running workouts, slow and long
Toning up - weightlifting with more reps, less weight, cardio

How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I wear my own merchandise during my workouts thus (hopefully) leading people to my webpage where they can inform themselves more about the cause of what I do.
I also (sometimes) answer questions that no one asked.
 
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Just start running. Slowly, steadily, without any pressure. Watch your technique. Read up on what you are doing and why you are doing it. Improve. Make progress. Know your limits and push them farther away from you. Suffer. Excel. And have fun while doing it.

 

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