I feel like it’d be a bit of a push to call myself an athlete, but yesterday I did my very first offical run and am proud to say I finished in the top 25% of females who took part. Andy, however, could certainly be considered an athlete, finishing his 10km run in the top 5% of all participants. He’s a speed demon.
Five of us – three vegans, one vegan in training, one vegetarian who is practically almost a vegan – joined over 5,000 people to take part in yesterday’s Sun Run. Me and the practically almost vegan opted for the 7km course as we’re the beginner runners of the group. The veteran pavement pounders took on the 10km course. We ran from Dee Why to Manly. Up hills, down hills, alongside the ocean, in both rain and shine. For me it was a surreal experience as I’m normally on the other side of things with a camera, a witty banner and words of encouragement. To be the one actually taking part in the run was a strange experience. I actually felt like an imposter.
The hills were tough and on more than one occasion I thought I might vomit. But I didn’t. I ran 7km in 45 minutes and it was hard but I did it. And I didn’t fall over. I didn’t injure myself. I didn’t fall behind through lack of energy. I didn’t collapse from exhaustion. Neither did the other two vegans. Or the vegan in training. Or the practically almost vegan.
There’s a misperception that vegans are sickly, weak and unhealthy. I, and thousands of others of vegans, are living breathing proof that this simply isn’t true. Of course there are vegans out there who are sickly, weak and unhealthy in the same way that there are omnivores out there who sickly weak and unhealthy. You can be a super unhealthy vegan if you want to be, but living on a plant based diet in no way means you’re missing out on anything you need to be strong, fit and healthy. How many vegans have been asked where they get their protein, or their calcium, or their iron? I bet every single one of us has been asked numerous times. I know Andy has because I was the one doing the asking when he first decided to switch to a vegan lifestyle. There’s this misguided idea that by cutting out meat and dairy from our diets we’ll somehow shrivel into nothing. But then we don’t. And I think that’s why some people feel threatened by a plant based diet. There are all these vegans running around, not keeling over, and providing indisputable proof that we don’t need meat and dairy.
Many of us are ill educated when it comes to food and nutrition. People ask me if I know how much protein I should be getting and where I should be getting it from, and I ask them – do you? Do you know how much protein you need in a day? The majority of people have no idea. But they eat meat so they must be getting enough. And of course that’s the best source of protein. Just like milk doesn’t leech calcium from your bones…
People are so quick to judge when you say that you don’t eat meat or dairy. But you’re not going to get the right nutrients. But you’re going to get sick. But you’re going to lose weight. But you’re going to get weak. But nothing. Stop judging me, stop judging us, and take a look at your own diet and lifestyle. And stop throwing your dairy sponsored, pork sponsored “facts” at me.
Our little gaggle (I don’t think we have an official collective noun) of vegans are a healthy, happy bunch. We’re powered by vegetables and run like the wind. We’re part of a growing force of people who are proof that you can eat well, live well, and be well, without causing harm to anyone – ourselves included – or anything.