Lisa Gawthorne

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» Lisa Gawthorne

Team GB athlete

When I was six years old, I saw a leaflet about animal farming techniques. I knew right away that I didn’t want to eat meat anymore.

For as far back as I remember, all my earliest and fondest memories include animals. For me it was very alien to come to that connection and to realise that meat comes from a living creature, not dissimilar from my cat.

My parents were a little worried about my health as I was a very active child. This was 32 years ago – there wasn’t much on the market in terms of meat-free products. It was quite tough, but my parents supported me, and we got to grips with the nutritional side of things pretty quickly.

Then, in 2003 I went vegan. It was so much easier at that point – every supermarket has plant milk and so many other vegan products. There was no excuse anymore!

Vegan athlete

I started running when I was at university. I also got into weights and going to the gym. By the time I graduated in 2003 I’d gone vegan – and that’s when I started to notice a massive difference. I’d previously struggled with acne and my skin cleared up. I was getting much better non-interrupted sleep. I felt stronger, fitter and faster than ever before.

The biggest noticeable change was in my energy levels. I’ve not had caffeine since 2007 and people can’t believe it – I’m a proper live wire!

My running times also started coming down. In 2007 it was taking me 50 minutes to run a 10k. in 2019 I’m down to 38 minutes.


As well as heavy training, I do believe that the fuel I eat really helps to give me an edge. Meat and veg for lunch is asking a lot of the digestive system. It can make you feel lethargic. On a vegan diet you can have a bigger volume of food, and such a variety. You’re getting a mixture of different energy sources which is really great for athletics. It allows you to take in different energy sources of phytonutrients which are bursting with vitamins and minerals. As a vegan, I love seeking out new creative foods. My diet is so varied – it’s not just meat and potatoes.

It also helps in terms of muscle recovery. After a race I used to be knackered, and now I feel fairly fresh. I put that down to a really phytonutrient-rich diet which helps the muscles to recover.

I get my vitamins and minerals tested every year and I’ve never had a deficiency, ever. I eat a rainbow of fruits and veg with every meal so I know I’m eating the right foods to deliver all those vitamins.

What do you consider your greatest athletic achievement?

Probably getting my vest to run for England this year, in my age group. I’m also biking in the world championships for duathlon. I’ve competed from Canada to Spain to Romania – I’ve been lucky enough to go all over the world.

In the last 12 months I’ve got a Personal Best for both 5k and 10k. it really surprised me to beat those times – as you get older you can plateau, but each year that’s gone by I’ve got better and better. It’s indicative of the fact that I’ve got my diet right.

What message would you like to share about vegan nutrition and health?

I want people to realise how good it can make you feel. I’m talking holistically. 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. Do it for a week and you’ll notice a change!

Going vegan is the kindest and most beneficial thing you can do for your health, the animals and the planet. If you could bottle that feeling and sell it – if people could take a taste of that feeling, they’d go vegan overnight.

Has going vegan helped you to thrive? If you have a story to share, please get in touch.

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