Vegan, senior, and still running

Vegan, senior, and still running

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Fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds. We know they're good for you, and we should be eating more of them.

But what if that's all you eat?

No meat. No eggs. No dairy.

The vegan lifestyle is starting to catch on, with an increasing number of Americans eating this way.

But can you be a vegan and still be a top performing athlete?  Ellen Jaffe Jones of Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island says absolutely.

Jaffe Jones said it's what she doesn't eat that keeps her winning races. Last summer, she placed seventh nationwide in the senior games, running a mile in 8 minutes 3 seconds.

Jones, who's 61, credits her speed and glowing health to her vegan diet.  She describes her diet this way: "No meat. No dairy. No eggs. Any by meat we mean, fish and chicken and pigs and anything that has a mother. Anything with a face."

Jones said she used to eat like most Americans, until a  serious colon blockage landed her in the hospital at the age of 27.  Acting on a warning from her doctors, she started making changes.

"My mom, aunt and both sisters would go on to have breast cancer," she said. "We were part of the original breast cancer gene studies. And doctors again said as this was happening, you need to do some things very differently with your life or you're going to end up like everybody else in your family. "

An Emmy award-winning TV reporter at the time, Jones started digging into the facts about what we eat.

"When you understand there's no money in broccoli, there's no company that makes it, there's no broccoli association or broccoli board – you have to be your own investigative reporter and figure out what works for you," she said.

She said most people mistakenly think you have to eat meat and dairy to get protein.  She showed us her impressive bicep. There's no protein deficiency problem there.

Jones gets most of her protein from the various beans and grains that line her kitchen counter, and she shows people how to cook them on her YouTube channel.  Her first best seller, "Eat Vegan on $4 Dollars a Day," set out to prove anyone can afford to eat this way.

"When I started comparing the price of beans with the price of meat and dairy, it's like such a bargain," she said.

Her next book, "Kitchen Divided," was inspired by her marriage. She's vegan. Her husband is not.

Now the woman who calls herself the "Veg Coach" is spending much of her plant-based way of life with others, counting on it to keep her on the beach for a long time.

"I hope I can run until I'm 100. That's the game plan," she said.

Jones' third book came out this week. It's called "Paleo-Vegan," taking on the paleo diets that are so popular right now. She also does local cooking classes, personal training, and you can keep up with her on her website.

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