11 Jun Inside the Fridge welcomes vegan athlete Scott Spitz
Scott Spitz is an ethical vegan of 19+ years, a competitive distance runner, frequent blogger, father to a 7 year old ball of energy and positivity and is currently managing the complications of a rare form of stomach cancer after being diagnosed one year ago. He has endured an initial surgery, 17 chemotherapy infusions and will be entering into his second surgery this August in hopes of removing all the cancer. He continues to run and bike at every available opportunity and has altered his diet very little after diagnosis. Prior to diagnosis he was attempting to qualify for the US Olympic Marathon Trials and hopes to lower his marathon PR when his cancer experience is over. He writes about running, ethical veganism, diet, and cancer at his blog, Run Vegan – and documents these experiences visually on Instagram.
Where do you shop for food ?
I will supplement my grocery shopping at various health food stores in my city (Good Earth, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods), but I do the bulk of my shopping at a standard, large grocery store (Kroger, Meijer). I can get the basics anywhere, especially since I don’t rely on more unique foods for my diet, but primarily eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. It helps that all bigger grocery stores carry selections of non-dairy milks and other specialty items.
Do you love food shopping or dread it?
I certainly dread the idea of spending so much money at one time, but there is something cathartic and even inspiring about loading up on foods for the coming weeks. I really enjoy going through the aisles, skipping all the awful food choices available to us, and loading up on food that I know is cruelty-free and will benefit my quality of life.
What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
Unfortunately, it’s a mix of cost and quality. I’m looking for foods that I know have the best nutritional content, but also fit into my budget, allowing me to get as much as possible. Sometimes this means skipping some of the organic options or specialty items for the more basic offerings.
How often do you shop?
I shop approximately once every couple of weeks, supplementing with various other items throughout the weeks.
How many do you shop for? Ages?
Right now, I shop for myself and my girlfriend, (plus two cats) and my son (7) when he is staying with me, though I do have years of experience shopping for a family of three.
What is your weekly food budget?
I’m currently on food stamps due to my health situation (a rare form of stomach cancer) so I’m allotted $180 a month….which doesn’t go very far. When I was in a better financial state I would allot about $200 every two weeks. That’s when I was shopping for the family. I try to make it work on about $250 to $300 a month at this point.
How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
Very rarely do I eat out, unless you count getting salads at the health food store in moments of desperation. I do freelance design outside my home, so sometimes I find I’ve worked myself into hunger and need to eat right away, which is when I run to the store to grab a salad or deli item. I try to have leftovers or snacks with me when I’m out.
How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
I cook for the moment and never plan meals. I go by how I’m feeling at the time.
What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
What is the oldest item in the fridge right now?
Hmm….probably the jalapeño jelly I was gifted as a xmas present. It’s good stuff, but very hot! The majority of the items in the fridge are perishable, so they don’t stick around very long.
Do you believe in leftovers?
I don’t just believe in leftovers, I WORSHIP them!
What convenience product can you not live without?
Is peanut butter a convenience product? If so…that. Or coffee if that counts.
What brands do you swear by? Why?
I’m not a big brand person, but the Califia Farms non-dairy milks are amazing.
What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
Does the spoon I dip into my peanut butter count? I’m very simple and low-maintenance when it comes to food preparation, so I don’t use a lot of mechanics.
When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Honestly…those Cracker Barrel billboards that tout everything be “Homemade”. I can’t help but roll my eyes.
What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
I don’t think I have such an intense relationship with food from the past, but I did always enjoy my mom’s sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving time, which I now realize is grossly unhealthy.
How have your cooking/shopping habits changed over the last 10 years?
Oh goodness, drastically. I went from eating a college kid diet (whatever was quick and easy) to buying and preparing whole foods, using spices, making enough for leftovers, etc.. The responsibilities of adulthood will do that to you. I think the biggest change took place after my son was born and I realized it was up to me to create meals for him that were nutritionally sound and so that completely altered my way of eating, cooking and shopping too.
What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking website/s, book or cookbook?
Google. If I need to make something special, I just type in the name and put “vegan” in front of it. Suddenly I have a million recipes at my disposal.
What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
Well, I would say my signature stir fry, but that uses frozen veggies. Does that count? If not that, then some oatmeal cookies I made for my girlfriend’s co-workers.
What was the last meal you cooked from convenience products?
Probably when I prepared the package of Trader Joe’s Gzoyas. Those things are fantastic!
If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
Myself. That way I know I’m getting all the nutrients I need to fuel my physical activities (running and cycling) and in a way that is best for my digestive system that is compromised by my health circumstance. Aside from myself, then whoever prepares the food at my local Ethiopian restaurant.
What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
Keep. It. Simple. Shopping, preparing and eating foods does not have to be hard. Food doesn’t have to take hours to prepare. Heck, it doesn’t need to take 30 minutes to prepare. I can whip up a nutritious, tasty stir fry in 10 minutes tops.
What are you working on these days that you’d like to tell us about?
My two big projects, aside from continuing to write at my blog, is 1. Finishing up a nutritional primer titled, “Run Fast. Run Vegan.” where I ramble on about how I eat during high-level run training while being a vegan of 19+ years, and 2. pulling together a running culture blog/site that will have a focus on giving voice to individuals with disease thriving through the adversity with physical activity. I call it Thumbs Down. Hopes Up.
Thank you, Scott!
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