Net Zero Heroes: Troy Alvarado

Troy Alvarado smiles at the camera while standing in front of a colorful mural. He is wearing a blue shirt with an avocado cartoon that says, "Plant Powered Athlete ATX."

I’m helping to make Austin Net-Zero by eating a plant-based diet and, with the Plant Powered Athlete running group, inspiring others to do the same!

June 5th was Global Running Day and, in celebration, we’re excited to introduce our newest Net-Zero Hero: Troy Alvarado! Troy became a blue belt in jiu-jitsu and a marathon runner — all while eating a plant-based diet. Most Sunday mornings, you can find Troy at one of Plant Powered Athlete ATX’s gatherings, where a group of Austinities meets for a walk or run followed by a meal at a local vegan restaurant. As we look toward the passage of the Austin/Travis County Food Plan, we’re excited to celebrate Troy and the Plant Powered Athlete ATX community.

We joined Troy and the Plant Powered Athletes recently at Vegan Nom to share food, learn about his journey to a plant-based diet, and hear what questions he hates getting asked. Read on for our interview with Troy!

What inspired you to take action?

I was inspired to switch to a plant-based diet for my health, sustainability, and my love of animals.


How did you do it?

Several years ago, I decided I wanted to eat healthier and began researching how I might do so. Through my research, I discovered the benefits of a plant-based diet. I started replacing my everyday meals with healthier plant-based alternatives. I had already cut out dairy at a young age because I noticed my body had a hard time digesting it, so I didn’t need to make any changes there. Throughout this journey, knowing I was making choices that supported the climate and my love for animals helped keep me motivated. I’ve been vegan for a decade now.

In the past few years, living a plant-based life has also inspired me to get involved in the community in other ways. I decided to join the Plant Powered Athletes ATX group. Through this group, I became friends with another runner, Katie, who was a volunteer at Austin Farm Sanctuary. I’ve always loved animals and decided to check it out with her. I’ve now been volunteering there for the last year. My favorite part is seeing an animal grow up. I’m no stranger to farmwork, so I feel like I can really lend a hand when I’m there.

Left: Troy points to a menu on a food truck. Right: Troy holds a goat in his arms. Behind him, other goats are scattered through a large field.

Left: Troy points out some of his favorite menu items at The Vegan Nom, a fully plant-based food truck (and one of the favorite spots of Plant Powered Athlete ATX). Right: Troy volunteering at the Austin Farm Sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Troy Alvarado.


What’s been most rewarding about getting involved in this way?

Inspiring others to pursue a plant-based diet has been really rewarding. I think about the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Being plant-based means that my actions align with my values. Some people, especially athletes, worry about becoming plant-based, but I try to inspire people through my athletic performance. I’ve run two marathons in the last year and qualified for the Boston Marathon with a sub-3-hour qualifying time. For the last three years, I’ve also trained in jiu-jitsu under Oliver Taza at Black Widow MMA. I’m currently a blue belt and participate in tournaments monthly. 

Troy on a mat competing in jiu-jitsu with another competitor.

Troy competes in a jiu-jitsu tournament. Photo courtesy of Troy Alvarado.

I’ve also really appreciated the community I’ve been able to build. The Plant Powered Athlete ATX running group has become about so much more than running for me. I’ve gotten to know so many people in the community and we support each other outside of the group. I’ve gone to see members play in bands, and we’ve attended local events together. It’s such a great group to be a part of. I’d encourage anyone interested in a plant-based diet or in running to find out more on Instagram.

A group pf people sit at and stand around a picnic table. They point towards Troy, who is standing in the middle.

Members of the Plant Powered Athlete ATX running club celebrate Troy after a run at The Vegan Nom.


What’s been the toughest part?

I hate getting asked, “How do you get your protein?” Honestly, it’s been easy with the support of my community, vegan restaurants in Austin, knowing the health benefits of eating plant-based, and mental clarity. There are so many benefits! 


Troy and other Plant Powered Athletes start their five mile run.


Supporting our community in eating more pro-climate, pro-health foods was one of the nine goals identified in the Austin-Travis County food planning process. What does it mean to you to eat a pro-climate, pro-health diet?

As I shared earlier, eating plant-based is one way to align my actions with my values. Through my diet, I feel I am supporting the community and doing my part for the future. I think this is what makes being part of the Plant Powered Athlete ATX group so rewarding — we can feel good about what we do and normalize plant-based eating for others. Adopting a plant-based lifestyle and a vegan diet is best for the earth, for my health, and for animals. 

Troy smiles from the center of a picnic table as people eat vegan tacos around him.

Enjoying a meal and a chat after a Sunday morning run.


Do you have some favorite plant-based meals or recipes you can share with our readers?

Vegan Nom tacos! I always get the Birdy Sanders. It has vegan buffalo chicken and plant-based queso. But, honestly, I encourage folks to support any local vegan place in Austin. They are delicious and need our support!

At home, I like to make a tofu scramble with black beans and avocado.

Troy holds up a tray of tacos in front of The Vegan Nom food truck.


A close up of a food basket with three tacos, filled with colorful ingredients.

Above: Troy picks up his tacos from The Vegan Nom. Below: Troy’s delicious and nutritious plant-based tacos.


Is there a book, documentary, or other piece of media you would recommend for folks wanting to learn more about these topics?

I would recommend people check out the documentary Game Changers. It follows the perspectives of plant-based performance athletes and also dives into the connection between our diets and sustainability!


What advice do you have for others?

Give it a try! You might like it and it will probably be easier than you think. And, however you do it, support your community. You only have one body and we only have one earth.

A group photo of the Plant Powered Athlete ATX running club in front of a colorful mural at the Vegan Nom food truck park.

The Plant Powered Athlete ATX running group is open to all. Gatherings are generally held on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings and include both a walking and running route — always followed by a delicious vegan meal. Follow them on Instagram for more. Interested in supporting the planet and our local food system? Explore the draft goals and strategies in the Austin/Travis County Food Plan. To learn about Austin's net-zero goal and explore actions you can take to support a greener community, view the Austin Climate Equity Plan.

Share your Net-Zero contributions with us on X (formerly Twitter) or Facebook, and use #NetZeroHero. If you know a Net-Zero Hero (or heroes!) who should be recognized for their efforts, send your nomination to