I have always enjoyed sports and the exhilaration that accompanies the human drama of athletic competition. I grew up playing Little League baseball and Pop Warner football. In high school and college, I started running cross-country and playing Ultimate Frisbee. After founding Farm Sanctuary in 1986 and becoming a full-time activist, I spent less time pursuing athletics. But, as my 50th birthday approaches, I’ve renewed my interest in sports, and I want to demonstrate that vegans can perform significant athletic feats. So, I signed up to run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Washington, DC, on March 17.
In the U.S., we are bombarded with advertising and “educational” campaigns promoting the notion that consuming meat, milk, and eggs is healthy, even necessary. Many people believe these myths and assume that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be vegan, let alone to be a vegan athlete. But, in recent years, information about vegan living and athletic achievements fueled entirely by plant foods is better and more readily available.
Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis reports performing his best as a vegan, and Dave Scott won the grueling Ironman Triathlon six times as a vegan (the Ironman is an endurance race where competitors swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run a full marathon). Timothy Bradley, an undefeated vegan boxer, is challenging champion Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas this June, and Scott Jurek, a vegan ultra-marathon runner, is the seven-time winner of the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run. Elite and professional athletes are increasingly recognizing how plant-based nutrition can support top performance.
I am not an elite athlete, but I have been running over the winter getting ready for my first marathon this spring, and I’ve completed a couple of 20-mile runs. These long-distance outings have been challenging, but I’m feeling strong, and I’m looking forward to the marathon on March 17. I am now running fewer miles each week (“tapering” as it’s called in marathon training lingo), so that my body is rested and ready to run 26.2 miles on race day.
I’d like to use this marathon to help raise awareness and funds for Farm Sanctuary, as well as to encourage others to eat well and to pursue healthy, active lifestyles. We have set up a web page, and I hope you will consider sponsoring me.