Following the lead of Bute Island Foods-sponsored Forest Green Rovers, meet the UK’s very first vegan cricket club – Earley Cricket Club, based in Reading. And the vegan ethic doesn’t just stop at the tea and snacks served to player – they are even experimenting with vegan-friendly cricket balls.
The move, championed by Club Chairman and opening batsman Gary Shacklady, was instigated by the desire that none of their players should miss out on the traditional tea break at the end of an innings. Many of the club’s players are Hindu and Muslim, and because of their dietary requirements, they were often excluded from the snack, traditionally meat sandwiches and cake.
The players are now treated to a menu featuring vegan-friendly Moroccan tagine, curries and rice, lasagne and spaghetti bolognese. The committee voted in favour of replacing the traditional fare following Gary’s campaign. The 33 year old, a primary school teacher who set up the club 12 years ago and is vegan himself, felt that the club’s meat-based catering meant that the Hindu and Muslin players were being excluded from fully joining in with club life.
Gary is delighted with the reaction of the cricketers. “The teas have been well received as our players understand and support the reasoning behind the decision. It also means we can produce a far larger quantity of food for a lower cost. When other teams come to us, they pule their plates high. And when they eat the food, nobody complains.”
Now four of Gary’s teammates at the club, which plays in Divisions 2 and 3 of the Berkshire Cricket League, have been inspired to switch to a plant-based diet entirely as a result of the move. They join a growing band of the world’s top players in making the switch, including India captain Virat Kohli and Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle.
The Vegan Society is fully supportive. “Offering plant=based food as default in inclusive, cheap and convenient, as well as contributing to a healthier society and more sustainable food choices that don’t harm others. We hope other clubs and organisations will follow Earley Cricket Club’s decision to switch to an all-vegan menu for everyone’s benefit.”
Vegan sports clubs, organisations and individuals are certainly increasing in the UK. As well as Earley CC and Forest Green Rovers, vegan rugby squad the Green Gazelles is also recruiting new players. Famous sports people who are vegan include Lewis Hamilton, Serena and Venus Williams and boxer David Haye. Let’s face it, they have done pretty well despite – or more likely because of – their vegan diet!
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