‘My first half marathon: plantpowered!’

Friday, 27 February, 2015

Until a few years ago, Jason Mitchell could barely run for the bus, let alone a 13 mile stretch through a paved city of cheering crowds. And yet, on the 22nd February 2015, Jason successfully completed his first half marathon – fuelled by veganism. This is his story.

I ran the Brighton Half Marathon at the weekend while raising funds for , and I ran further than I’ve ever run in my life. And I did it on plants. Running and other sporty or athletic pursuits on a vegan diet is nothing new, and I’m a great admirer of Fiona Oakes and Brendan Brazier, but showing what can be done on a plant based diet was a big part of my decision to sign up for the race. I can talk about animal abuse to disinterested folk till the cows come home (to their depressing sheds) but I’ve found that people engage better with the issues if you a) bake a cake or b) do something that demonstrates that being vegan doesn’t mean being nutrient deficient or physically compromised. What better way to demonstrate the power of plants than by running for over two hours without stopping?

Another big motivator was my long history of being very overweight. I reached 22 and a half stone at my largest point, and had problems with my knees and high blood pressure when I was only 35 years old. I couldn’t even run for the bus, no matter how excited I might have been to get to the Asda superstore at Brighton Marina. I had dodgy knees and achy parts, and fitting in shower cubicles was tough. About 5 years ago I decided that I’d had enough of not being able to bend over far enough to do my laces up, so I started to change everything.

Running was so painful in the beginning that a personal trainer told me not to run at all, and stick to the bike. And that was after the weight loss. I wasn’t having any of that, though. It’s not quite a tale to equal Jonnie Peacock’s but it’s a big deal to me; what with my high blood pressure, I was well on the way to an early heart attack. Now I’m 39, I’m 7 and a half stone lighter, and run three or four times a week – all while championing kale. My blood pressure is thankfully normal now too. Running the half marathon was a line in the sand between my old chunky self and the new me that understands that food choices define a person’s health and fitness potential.

I’m also a passionate vegan of 4 years and believe it’s the way forward  for our strained planet, where many of us are ill – or unknowingly nurturing ill health – because of how we eat. It’s also bonkers that in 2015 we’re still treating animals appallingly – conveniently out of sight – and killing them for food when our insights into nutrition demonstrate that this is highly unnecessary. A recent blood test of mine showed nutrient levels were all well within the healthy range.

The day itself was fantastic. The sun was out and the often energetic seafront wind was still. Perfect weather. I was nervous about running in a large group, surrounded by spectators on either side, but I very soon got swept up in the atmosphere and forgot all about my nerves. The first 10 miles went by so quickly, but that last 3 were tough! I was determined not to stop or walk at any point, so I didn’t. I don’t consider myself a particularly competitive person, but I did get a kick out of overtaking walking 20-somethings, not halfway round the course! I finished with a time of 2 hours and 14 minutes, which is 6 minutes less than I was aiming for and 16 minutes less than what I’d pessimistically predicted.

I celebrated with friends afterwards at V-Bites, where I hobbled up the stairs to the second floor to enjoy a vegan roast dinner. I spotted several other vegan half marathoners while I was there. Best of all, I raised over £200 for , with many of the sponsors being either meat eaters or vegetarian. Would I do it again? Ask me when I’m not so sore.

Catch up with Jason’s website Another Vegan . Would you like to fundraise for us as Jason Mitchell has? You too can start your own fundraising event on , or emailto find out more about the many different fundraising options there are. Whether you want to run a race, a bake sale, an event – we appreciate your support, which allows to continue .

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