World's first vegan football match

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World Vegan Day on November the 1st kicked off spectacularly as Forest Green Rovers (FGR) made a roaring return to form following a half-time ‘pitch’ from vegan football veteran Neil Robinson, and support from the McCartneys.

The FGR vs Lincoln City Conference League match was dedicated to The Vegan Society in honour of our 70th anniversary as well as World Vegan Day, with all food served at the Forest Green Rovers grounds that day being 100% vegan in lieu of their solely vegetarian menu.

FGR, whose training regime involves following a meat-free diet, were 3-0 down half-way into their home game at Nailsworth before Neil Robinson took to the pitch at half-time. 

The world’s first professional vegan footballer spoke about the benefits of a solely plant-based diet for football fitness before yielding the pitch in preparation for a triumphant return by FGR, who went on to score two goals in two minutes. 

A tense third goal was scored by the eco-footballers in the last few seconds of the game, the final score of 3-3 allowing FGR to uphold their unbeaten streak.  


"The day was a momentous and unique occasion in vegan history,” declared Neil Robinson, The Vegan Society’s guest of honour. 

“Having played professional football for 10 years as a vegan, and with there being only one other vegan professional footballer ever [Dean Howell] since I retired from playing football in 1990, I never thought I'd ever see the day when a football club would be hosting vegan celebrations as part of World Vegan Day! So, a big thank you to Forest Green Rovers and their visionary chairman, Dale Vince, for hosting the event.”

Neil was not the only one to toot Forest Green Rovers’ horn, as Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney also praised the club’s ethos. 

“It’s great to hear how a football club took the positive environmental action of going meat-free, and how this has been such a success,” the trio released in a statement. 

“Good luck to Forest Green Rovers which is moving a step further by going vegan this Saturday. We admire the club’s strong commitment to sustainability and wish it all the very best.”

In spite of a slightly wobbly first half, the celebratory match went off without a hitch, as Vegan Society members tucked into a bountiful cake provided by Leicester-based bakers The Vegan Cakery as well as snacks provided by Ten Acre Crisps and Goody Good Stuff.

Over 1,300 fans were in attendance to see the momentous match, many of them enjoying the club’s soy-based vegan burger. Forest Green Rovers have been promoting sustainability and the benefits of a meat-free diet since they were taken over by Ecotricity in 2010, introducing the world’s first organic pitch and a meat-free menu to the grounds in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire.

Has Forest Green Rovers’ sustainable switch inspired you to take your gas and electricity supply into your own hands? If you were to make the switch to Ecotricity - Britain's leading supplier in green energy - via this link, The Vegan Society receives £40-£60 in donations. Curious? Find out more about Ecotricity and the scheme here.

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