This summer’s Olympic Games will come to an exciting end in Tokyo this Sunday (8 August). Team GB have proved triumphant with athletes currently on track to take home 48 medals, including 15 Gold, 18 Silver and 15 Bronze from Diving, Gymnastics Skateboarding and Taekwondo to name a few.
The 2020 event, which was delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, featured a huge number of vegan athletes from around the world, including Team GB’s own rugby ace Dan Bibby and boxer Cheavon Clarke. In fact, more than two-thirds of Team GB recently stated they’ve actively reduced their meat consumption.
However, it appears the links around veganism and fitness extends far beyond the Olympic stadium, according to a new survey* for The Vegan Society’s Vegan and Thriving campaign. A panel of 500 people, who have gone vegan since the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, were quizzed about their fitness activities, changes to health and influences for making the switch.
A huge number (98%) said they take part in a physical activity at least once a week. Walking took the top spot, with 69% saying they enjoy walking activities such as long distance, hiking or just taking the dog out while jogging and running also proved popular, with 62% saying they do this at least once a week. Fifty-three percent said they go swimming, whilst a similar number (52%) enjoyed regular cycling and almost three-quarters (43%) enjoying HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or other cardio. Other sports included yoga or Pilates (42%), basketball and football (41%), weightlifting (33%), combat sport (30%) and dancing (30%).
Those respondents who said they’ve gone vegan in the last five years were also asked whether they’d noticed any improvements to their health and the results are highly encouraging. While 56% said they’d seen an improvement to their digestion, 55% feel their sleep has improved and 53% feel like they have more energy. Fitness levels have also improved with more than half (52%) stating they are able to walk and/or run better and/or further. Interestingly, 34% said they had a shorter recovery time between their chosen exercise sessions, and 31% said they were able to lift heavier weights.
Someone who knows exactly what it’s like to represent Team GB is vegan duathlon athlete Lisa Gawthorne. Lisa said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to see so many vegans competing at the Tokyo Olympics – they’re such an inspiration and there’s no better platform to show the entire world exactly what is possible on a vegan diet."
“I know that going vegan helped me run further, cycle faster and recover quicker too. I want people to realise how good it can make you feel – how you feel getting the right nutrients, but also knowing you haven’t caused animal pain and slaughter. It’s the best thing ever for your mind, body and soul. If the Olympic Games have inspired you to give veganism a go check out The Vegan Society’s Vegan and Thriving page for lots of recipe ideas.”
The Vegan Society knows that the three primary motivations for people adopting a vegan diet are for animals, personal health, and the environment. However, according to the survey 46% of respondents went vegan to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables, 44% wanted to improve digestion and reduce bloating and 41% wanted to increase their energy levels.
Thirty-nine percent went vegan to reduce their risk of developing a specific illness such as diabetes – with more men (47%) than women (32%) stating this as an influence. Thirty-eight percent of men and 22% of women said a GP or health care professional recommended the vegan diet.
Vegan athletes really are at the forefront of many minds, with 32% saying they switched to a vegan diet because they were influenced by figureheads such as Lewis Hamilton and Venus Williams.
The Olympics Closing Ceremony will take place in Tokyo on Sunday 8 August at 8pm. Take a look at The Vegan Society’s Thriving Facts to hear what our experts have to say, and to read what Vegan and Thriving means to some of Britain’s top athletes.*“Olympic Games” survey by The Vegan Society. Run through Attest from the 8th-22nd July 2021. Audience was 500 people from the UK who said they had gone vegan within the last five years. The audience was nationally representative for gender, age and home region.