I'm very proud to present another impressive vegan athlete this week. Say hello to vegan marathon runner Fiona Oakes!
Fiona combines fitness and activism and takes it to a whole new level. Not only has she set multiple World Records but she did so while simultaneously and literally saving hundreds of farm animals.
Hey, Fiona! Tell us a little about your background in vegan fitness?
I have been vegan since I was 6 yeas old after being vegetarian since 3 years old. None of my family were either at the time.
Running is pretty much my only sport now but I do cross it up from road racing to ultra stuff. It hasn't been easy as I have a disability which I was told as a teenager I would never be able to walk properly after the surgery to address the problem.
You also take a very hands-on approach in caring for animals, don't you?
I have always rescued animals in some shape or form. Over twenty years ago I founded Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary to help care for animals who would otherwise have a very bleak future and of which few would survive.
It is great to know you are making a difference to the lives of the animals here but there are so many out there who you can't help it can be pretty demoralizing as you see first hand and are reminded of every single day how beautiful, intelligent and deserving they are of kindness and love and how wrong it is to abuse them as so many people and industries do.
Out of all the delicious alternatives – what's your favorite vegan food?
That's a tough one as it depends where I am and what I am doing but, as a general rule of thumb, I never turn away roasted mushrooms, dates and Siberian Pine Nuts.
What's your training like?
I am a really high mileage runner whether I am doing a road race or taking it off road. When I consider I am in 'serous' training I will be looking to run around 100 miles a week.
How I make that up depends on the type of race I am training for. If it's a road race there will be 3 speed sessions and only a little bit of off road work for recovery. If it is, as is the case right now, a week long stage race like MdS I will do a lot more off road work with my pack but there will also be some speed work too - probably less intensity but always there in my schedules.
You've a woman of many impressive feats. What's your proudest one?
I guess my proudest moment was in Antarctica when I rounded off the World Records with a win, course record and 3 World Records in the last race there.
It had been a really hectic couple of months traveling to each Continent and then back home to care for the animals at the Sanctuary after each race. I had to run pretty quick in the Marathons - around 3 hours - then get straight back on a plane and return home to continue caring for the animals.
Just to give you a taster of what it was like I went from the UK to Australia, Podium placed in the Marathon and back home in less than 4 days - over 2 of which had been spent traveling!
It was pretty awesome when it was all over and I could stand on the Podium in Antarctica knowing I had achieved beyond my wildest dreams for the animals and provided proof positive that it could be done on a lifelong vegan diet.
What would you tell someone new to vegan fitness?
My advice to young, vegan athletes is 'stick to your ideals and ethics and don't let anyone ever tell you it can't be done on a plant based diet'. No matter how high you want to go, how hard you want to achieve you don't have to compromise what you believe in and stand for to do it.
There is a a great myth amongst coaches that you need to eat meat and animal derivatives in order to attain optimum sporting performance - WRONG.
Things are changing now, but slowly, and I hope that my achievements have gone some way in making that change happen.
More on Fiona Oakes
Fiona would like to invite you to invite her directly if you want to know more about what makes her tick. She loves hearing from people, share information, experience, and cross reference ideas.
The best way to contact Fiona is through her Facebook page.
Want to help feed Fiona's animals? Please consider a monthly donation; I just set one up myself!
PS. Check out an impressive list of Fiona's achievements over at Great Vegan Athletes.