Getting to know vegan runner Matthew Fordham as he preps for the 2023 London Marathon
Matthew, an NHS Associate Practitioner in Frailty, is living his best vegan life in The New Forest – Hampshire – and loves exploring the great outdoors with his beloved animal companion, Poppy.
Tell us why you have chosen to support The Vegan Society:
I had a spell of being a vegan in my early teenage years in the late 80’s but it ultimately failed as it was not a mainstream diet, I had such little information and choice to the point where I was actually becoming unwell.
Forced by health reasons in early 2021 to take on a lactose free diet I took the opportunity to try again a fully plant-based diet as an experiment to see how it made me feel. I instantly felt incredible, more energised, and all the new health problems, and many of the chronic problems just went away.
Free from the guilt of animal consumption, the blinkers came off and I began to educate myself in what humans are truly doing to the other species that occupy this planet, what the exploitation of animals is doing to the health of our only planet and to the health of humans.
Now armed with this harrowing knowledge and my stance on veganism now resolute, I wanted to source more knowledge on how to live a more sustainable and cruelty free life, with a wide, varied and easily identifiable choices.
It is only by supporting amazing charities such as The Vegan Society that these changes will become more mainstream and available to all.
Will this be your first marathon? When and why did you start running?
This will be my second road marathon. I run mainly in The New Forest having started running only 6 years ago due to the shocking realisation that I was obese. Within 6 months I had lost about 3½ stone and I was hooked..
What do you think the benefits of running are? What do you enjoy most about it?
Not only was it good for my physical health but it gave me the time and the space to work on my mental health too, whether processing an argument, snapping out of the mood I’d come home from work with or working out bigger problems. My favoured distance was always the half marathon but aspired to running a full marathon. At the end of 2018 I entered the Bournemouth marathon… it wasn’t pretty, but I finished. This will be my first road marathon as a vegan.
Do you have any tips that you would give to someone who has just taken up running?
So here we go… my top pearls of wisdom that I have learnt on my journey to health and fitness:
No one is predisposed to being big, unhealthy, or unfit. Anyone, at any time, can make a change and improve their health, fitness, and wellbeing.
Fitness is not just about your body; it affects your mind, your mood, and can have a knock-on effect on your family, friends and colleagues, it will probably also lead to a longer and more active, enjoyable life.
Fitness is an odd one, in that, the more you do, the more you seem to want to do, and it can be addictive and infectious.
Fitness must come from the things you enjoy, for the enthusiasm to endure; if it is a chore, it will not last that long.
Join a club in your favoured endeavour; if there is a social element you are more likely to get out and do it, develop friendships so the nagging to turn up from your new friends will help get you out of the door!
Sign up to events that are maybe just a bit beyond your current ability; this will give you a challenge with a goal to strive towards and it will be rewarding when you achieve it.
Every now and again treat yourself to a new bit of gear, clothing, footwear, or tech; You’ll want to get out and use them.
How do you plan on reaching your fundraising target?
I would like to promote my support of ‘The Vegan Society’ through the intranet at work, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, through the running clubs that I am a member of, The New Forest Runners and Vegan Runners, and through friends and family through Facebook.
If you would like to support Matthew while he trains in the lead up to the 2023 London Marathon, please check out his JustGiving page.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.