09 Feb The Vegan Football Team
Over the last 10 years there has been a 360% increase in the number of vegans in the UK. No longer the preserve of hemp-wearing hippies with dreadlocks, veganism has hit the football community.
One person has been particularly pioneering in expanding the reach of a vegan lifestyle – Dale Vince, the chairman of Forest Green Rovers.
Thanks to Vince, the club has been fully vegan since June 2014. That means there’s no meat, fish, dairy or animal products of any kind on offer at the club, whether for players, visitors or fans.
In October 2010, just days after he became chairman of the club, Vince – a green energy tycoon and founder of Ecotricity – took red meat off the menu.
Before his arrival, players were often served lasagne before matches, but Vince thought this was a mistake as red meat is difficult to digest: “It seemed to me wrong to be feeding players something that would hinder their performance,”
A while later he stopped the club serving white meat, then fish, followed by milk and cheese, and by the start of the season in June 2014, the Gloucestershire club was fully vegan and has been ever since.
“Personally I’m vegan and have very strong views on the environment, animal welfare and human health,” Vince explains.
I couldn’t be involved in something that was catering that kind of menu, but rather than do it in one go we went on a journey with our fans.”
And it turned out the fans were surprisingly OK with the decision.
“A few got a bit angry and thought we were dictating to them what they could and couldn’t eat,” Vince says. “But we just explained that we were changing the menu according to our principals.”
Despite traditional football match fare consisting of burgers and beers, there was relatively little backlash to the decision, but it was the initial removal of red meat from the menu that garnered the biggest reaction.
“Typically football food is hideous,” Vince believes. “Burgers are really awful. They’re the most awful parts of an animal and are really unappealing products that are cheap as dirt. We’ve replaced them with really high quality plant-based food.”
Considering home games are just two hours once a fortnight, it’s not too much to ask of even the biggest meat-eater. “For those that are really bothered they can bring their own ham sandwiches,” Vince suggests.
He was simply trying to introduce a new kind of food to football that most fans hadn’t tried before. “We didn’t focus on what was not in the food but the food itself and how good it tastes,” Vince explains.
Forest Green Rovers fans can now expect to enjoy veggie burgers , wraps and falafel
Some Forest Green Rovers fans have even become vegetarians since the club took meat off the menu, which Vince is obviously thrilled about: “They’ve told us it’s changed their lives,”
So If Forest Green Rovers can do it – Come on Man Utd – give your fans a treat!!
We all know the vegan way is the best way it’s only a matter of time until the Premiership is on board