In January 2018 Jude Massey and brother Greg, aka the ‘Ocean Brothers’, will attempt to row the 3,000 mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
Attempting a 3,000 mile journey across the Atlantic is courageous – but it’s even more impressive when the person facing the challenge describes themselves as a ‘novice’ when it comes to rowing.
Teenage vegan Jude Massey – who will undertake the journey with brother Greg Bailey in January 2018 – is facing a number of challenges, from losing around two stone in body mass during the six-11 week row, to running into a hurricane in the middle of an ocean. He tells Vegan Life: “My brother and I are entirely dependent on our physical and psychological strength to get us across the Atlantic.”
Luckily, after growing up on the coast in Lymington, Hampshire, Jude is used to the sea and has been sailing since the tender age of eight.
Sailing instructor Jude and A&E doctor Greg (who call themselves the Ocean Brothers) were inspired by Jude’s father’s battle with skin cancer. Peter Massey died from the illness in 2015. Jude says: “The Atlantic is a huge ocean that spans between Africa and North/South America and we wanted to set ourselves a huge challenge in order to pay respect for the years of suffering my father battled through his later years.”
Jude, 17, started his journey to veganism last year. “At the beginning of 2016, I turned vegetarian,” he says. “I realised how strong an emotional connection I have with animals, and how it felt unethical to eat pieces of meat, pieces of animals served to me in a packet.
“My mind was always drawn to thinking about the history of this animal whose life had been taken away so his body could feed me. I never knew the conditions the animal lived in, the emotional journey s/he went through during his/her short life, and whether I was able to justify the poor quality of life the victim of the meat industry endured in order to feed the human race, and to satisfy my eating habits.
“My rationale at the time was that humans are meant to eat meat, and that our behaviour towards raising animals for slaughter was perfectly normal. I compared this with the way lions eat. These creatures hunt down their prey, and rarely catch food to feed their family. I then understood that what the human race was doing in order to eat was not normal at all, in fact I saw it as a genocide, every second an animal is killed for meat. This inspired me to embark on a vegetarian diet until the end of August, and this is when I was introduced to the documentaries Cowspiracy and Earthlings.
“I learnt all about the planetary destruction of animal agriculture and how humanity will struggle to survive as soon as 2060 if we don’t make a massive shift toward a plant-based diet. I also learnt about the way dairy products are marketed as essential for health and wellbeing, but how actually cow’s milk can cause disease in humans – as well as dairy farming wreaking a huge amount of environmental damage.
“Watching Earthlings had a huge impact on me. I saw the horrible way so many animal are treated and I asked myself ‘why is it that just because I have a strong emotional connection with my dog, Lola, that I do not seem to care about these billions of animals being tortured in order to feed the human race?’
Jude found the transition to a vegan diet easy, telling Vegan Life: “I have had zero issues adapting to a plant-based diet. In fact, I switched my diet completely overnight. I now have more energy, less headaches, a better mood, clear skin and virtually no mucus. It’s like magic. My motivation to be a vegan is powered through the knowledge that I am helping the environment every day by consuming healthy vegan foods that will help the animals, the planet and me. Also consuming dairy caused me a lot of health problems. I would suffer with thick mucus, headaches and was even diagnosed with a migraine condition that put an end of my former ambition of becoming a pilot. However, as soon as I cut out my medical problems vanished.”
Due to an intensive exercise regime – Jude trains six days a week in the gym – optimum nutrition is key in ensuring he supplies his body with the correct balance of nutrients to help him build muscle. “I eat a lot of pulses, beans, lentils, kale, broccoli and other veg,” he says, “to supply me with the protein I need. I also use a vegan protein powder fuelled with superfood extracts which really replenishes my body after an intense training session. I eat a lot of carbs, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pastas in order to fuel my body with the energy it needs. I always make sure I take my vegan B12 supplement every day too.”
He has been equally organised in sourcing supplies for during the row too: “Thankfully we have found a company in Dorset who make a vegan selection of dehydrated meal packs. I will also be consuming high calorie foods throughout the days I am rowing, such as energy bars, and mixed nuts,” he explains.
Despite the scale of the challenge, Jude says he hasn’t ‘got into’ rowing, saying: “I am taking this challenge as a complete novice at rowing, which makes it even more exciting.”
In a further twist to the tale, the young plant-powered athlete is currently attempting to register his crossing attempt as a record with Guinness World Records – for the first vegan to row across the Atlantic. While it is not yet confirmed that this is a world record (at the time of going to press) Jude’s research suggests he will be the first openly vegan person to attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite some fears surrounding the crossing, Jude is committed to the cause. “My mother is very concerned about both of her sons taking on this challenge. However, everyone is very supportive in helping us spread the word of our campaign, which feels really good.
“I see this challenge as a great way to teach me life lessons that we are at mercy of Mother Nature. Which is why, as a vegan, I will do anything in my power to help reduce the horrid effects consuming meat, fish, eggs and dairy has on the environment.”
The Long Journey Across the Atlantic
- Only 317 crews have successfully crossed the Atlantic. To put this into context, 536 individuals have been into space and over 5,500 people have summited Mount Everest. Over 150 crews have failed the crossing, and six have died during the attempt.
- Jude and his brother will depart from Gran Canaria in January 2018 and end up in Barbados, assisted by the Canary Current, a body of moving water going from West Africa to the Caribbean.
- They will take it in turns to row for an hour each – throughout the day and night.
- They will carry freeze dried food on board but will expend more calories than they take in – which is why they face significant weight loss during the gruelling trip.
- They will be entirely at the mercy of the elements – they could capsize, face bad weather, lose their power source or become injured or severely seasick.