He's still running and he's still setting world records.
To the average viewer, this year’s Wimbledon Finals matchup was nothing shocking, with two distinctly different players vying for the Cup, but the two finalists share one unique characteristic: they both follow vegan diets. Defying claims that plant-based diets lack for protein or hinder athletic performance, vegan athletes worldwide have proved otherwise, including some of the most accomplished competitors in the world. The latest to prove the naysayers wrong: Vegan runner Mike Fremont, who turned 100 years old in February and celebrated with a run around Vero Beach in Florida.
Fremont adopted a vegan diet at the age of 69 after receiving a daunting cancer diagnosis. He turned down what his doctors told him was life-saving surgery in favor of switching to a whole food plant-based diet. Now, Fremont, the oldest known vegan runner, holds the marathon distance world records for single-year age groups of 88 and 90.
“I said no, I was going on a diet!” Fremont told Great Vegan Athletes. “In two and a quarter years the tumor began to bleed, and I was operated upon. The surgeon looked for metastasis in 35 places and found zero. In other words, my macrobiotic diet, [which became] a vegan diet, [which became] a whole-foods plant-based diet, killed the metastases!”
Fremont says that the past few years leading up to his 100th have been “the very best years” of his life.
Fremont has no plans of stopping, or even slowing down. Fremont’s running partner Harvey Lewis – a 46-year-old ultrarunner and fellow vegan – told Great Vegan Athletes that he suggested a 5K run with Fremont for his 100th birthday. Fremont turned down the idea and instead suggested they run twice the distance.
“I asked him about the Flying Pig Marathon and if he was interested in doing the 5K, as we have done it the past couple of years,” Harvey said. “He said, ‘I don’t feel it’s really a race unless we do 10K' with a big grin. No arguing with Mike. 10K it is!”
Though a whole food plant-based diet is not a recommended treatment for cancer or a substitute for medical treatment, a growing body of research indicates that following a vegan diet can significantly reduce the risk of ever contracting several types of cancer including breast, prostate, and others.
Previous generations have historically avoided plant-based dieting due to traditional meal preferences centered around meat and dairy. However, that is changing as more information comes out yearly highlighting the health benefits of a plant-based diet for people over 65. One survey found that 54 percent of UK consumers over 65 have set out to reduce their meat consumption, motivated by the health benefits of lowering saturated fat intake.