K-9 Angels’ Victoria Eisermann discusses how vegan athletes such as Fiona Oakes have inspired her own philanthropic challenges
Every year I take on a personal challenge to raise funds for my charity K-9 Angels. It’s usually something quite extreme in the hope it catches people’s imagination and we can get some donations for dogs in desperate need of help.
This year, much to the horror of my husband, I strapped myself to the top wing of a single propeller bi-plane, which flies at speeds of around 150 MPH, and gulped down my fear as I attempted a challenge known as ‘wing walking’.
Last year I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, for the second time and a couple of years ago I cycled 500 miles through the rolling hills of Devon. These challenges have been hard but seeing the thousands of pounds which I have raised changing the lives of dogs in need makes all the pain, fear and exhaustion worth it.
Reflecting on my personal challenges got me thinking about vegan athletes. It amazes me that these vegans are helping the planet whilst saving the lives of countless animals. I had the great fortune to speak to one lady who inspires me greatly — the incredible Fiona Oakes.
Fiona, who has been vegan since she was just six years old, is a British marathon runner who holds three world records for marathon running and, in 2013, she won marathons in the Antarctic and the North Pole, proving that she is adaptable to the most extreme environments. Even more astonishingly, she runs despite having lost a knee cap from an illness when she was just 17.
I asked Fiona if she felt eating a vegan diet has helped her performance in sport? Fiona said: “Yes, I believe that being vegan has helped me both mentally and physically. For me, to stand on the start line of any race knowing that I have not harmed another creature to be there is extremely important. I could not function if I thought my performance was anything but attributable to myself, my determination, discipline and dedication to what I believe.
“Being vegan touches every part of my life.” Fiona continues: “My philosophy behind my running has always been simple. ‘The better runner I can be, the better I can speak out for the animals’.”
Fiona, along with athletes including David Carter, Tia Blanco and David Haye are living proof that you can enjoy a fully enriched vegan diet and still excel. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. We do not need to consume animals for protein, muscle strength or fitness and it finally feels like the flawed protein myth is being dispelled by vegan athletes. For me, Fiona is an inspiration and will continue to inspire me to challenge myself, in my own way (maybe not any polar marathons just yet), and stretch myself to my limits to raise awareness for my charity and the thousands of dogs which still need saving.