“I urge you to do some research, find the compassion I know you have within you to recognise what you are contributing to in terms of what you eat which keeps the meat and dairy industry flourishing and therefore deforestation, animal cruelty, our seas and climate decaying on a daily basis” wrote the vegan athlete Lewis Hamilton in a lengthy thoughtful Instagram post to his 13.1 million followers.
“Go vegan, it is the only way to truly save our planet today. It can be done so quickly, all you have to do is put your mind to it,” he said
The post has been picked up and widely broadcast by the mainstream news media, such is Hamilton’s worldwide appeal.
His Instagram homepage profile is succinct: “Plant-Based Diet. Love Animals. Constantly searching for my purpose, for adventure, open-mindedness and positivity. Spread LOVE and God above all.” Not a mention of cars anywhere.
Hamilton is not a typical petrol head of yesteryear. A man who stands well poised to add to his 5 times Formula One world championship wins, Hamilton is constantly stressing the benefits of being a vegan, having decided to become one two years ago.
A decade ago it would have been impossible to imagine a Formula One world champion “petrolhead” identifying so strongly for more compassion in the world. It is a mark of how far the vegan movement has come that top athletes are able to promote this lifestyle.
Wishes he’d gone vegan sooner
Back in May, Hamilton told F1i.com that he was “healthier and happier” than ever thanks to the benefits he is experiencing from his vegan diet. Formula 1 had at that time raised its minimum weight this year for drivers and Hamilton had found it easy to bulk up. “I have plenty of protein in my diet and I’ve gained muscle, and I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been. Wish I did it sooner”.
It is an inspiration for the vegan movement to see top sportsmen giving such powerful testimonials, which are becoming ever more frequent.
Hamilton is a co-producer of The Game Changers, a documentary looking at the phenomena of top athletes gaining a competitive advantage by following a vegan diet. The film also features Novak Djokovic, Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The well known vegan Hollywood film-maker James Cameron is one of the executive directors.
Not everybody was so sympathetic to Hamilton’s musings about the state of the planet. One twitter user quoted in its headline by the Daily Mail said: that it was hard to be taken seriously about the climate when “your job is to race aimlessly around in circles in a gas-guzzling land rocket. With an entourage replacing the plastic and rubber bits when you crash. And all flying around the world weekly.”
Many observers labelled Hamilton a hypocrite as Formula One racing is probably not the most environmentally friendly activity. Formula One’s current rules authorised an increased fuel allowance so that drivers may use up to 110 kg of fuel (the previous limit was 105 kg) in a race “to allow drivers to use the engine at full power at all times. They should no longer have to worry so much about conserving fuel – and will hence be able to push harder, especially in the closing stages of a Grand Prix.”
Many on social media were supportive, and some expressed their concern for the racing driver’s state of mind, prompted by the statement that in all honesty, because things are so bad in the world that he felt like “giving up on everything”.
In July in the preparations for the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton threw a vegan barbecue for his teammates. “So we’re at the British Grand Prix and decided to throw a Caribbean barbecue for my team. Everyone’s come out on a Thursday night because everyone generally finishes early on Thursday night, and I’ve got everyone trying the Beyond Meat burger and sausage, which are incredible” said Hamilton on his Instagram page.
Hamilton has lent his name to a range of clothing with Tommy Hilfiger which the company describes as a range that ‘captures the racing spirit’. The clothing is made from cruelty-free, up-cycled and recycled vegan materials “in line with Hamilton’s lifestyle”.
Lewis Hamilton clearly does care greatly about the state of the world and he is “figuring out daily” what he can do to play a better part.
Full text of the Instagram post
Here is the full text of Lewis Hamilton’s Instagram Post:
“Hey world, I hope everyone’s enjoying their day. I’m sad right now with the thought of where this world is going.
“Extinction of our race becoming more and more likely as we overuse our resources. The world is a messed up place. World leaders either uneducated or don’t care about the environment at all.
“Agriculture farming is the largest pollutant we currently have by over 50 per cent, far more than our travel industry combined. I’m sad to see so many people, even close friends ignore what is happening daily.
“Education is key and we were taught that eating animal products was good for us but we’ve been lied to for 100s of years.
“It’s taken me 32 years to understand the impact I am having on the world and I’m figuring out daily what I can do to play a better part. I want my life to mean something and honestly, up until now my life’s had no meaning.
“Being a part of the issue is not meaningful. Being part of the solution is and I’m striving to do better.
“I urge you to do some research, find the compassion I know you have within you to recognise what you are contributing to in terms of what you eat which keeps the meat and dairy industry flourishing and therefore deforestation, animal cruelty, our seas and climate decaying on a daily basis.
“Go vegan, it is the only way to truly save our planet today. It can be done so quickly, all you have to do is put your mind to it.
“Honestly, I feel like giving up on everything. Shut down completely. Why bother when the world is such a mess and people don’t seem to care. I’m going to take a moment away to gather my thoughts. Thank you to those of you who do give a damn about the world”.