Vegetarians put muscle into marathon challenge

Local | Cindy Wan 7 Jan 2019

A group of vegetarian runners will participate in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon next month to inspire others to give up eating meat.

They belong to the Facebook group "Veggie Runners," which serves as a platform for over 950 vegetarians and runners to exchange information and promote vegetarianism in the city.

The group's convener, Ken Poon Siu-cheung, will participate in the marathon and will compete in the full marathon, which spans 42 kilometers, on February 17.

He has been a long-distance runner for more than 20 years, but the idea of promoting vegetarianism through running came up five years ago when he met online three other vegetarian runners.

He established the Facebook group initially to seek out other vegetarian runners and he never expected that it would expand from just four people to nearly 1,000 members.

As their members swelled, the group started designing T-shirts for members to wear whenever they participated in running events in Hong Kong and overseas to promote vegetarianism.

Group opt not to eat meat for various reasons, with some hoping to address skin problems, while others merely want it to stay healthy.

Poon said his decision to become vegetarian stemmed from his desire to protect animals.

He made the culinary change a decade ago after watching videos about how animals were ill treated on farms and killed in a cruel fashion in slaughterhouses.

But he said his body struggled to adapt during the first two years of vegetarianism since he felt tired while competing in races.

The veteran runner failed to finish two marathons within the allotted time limit, and was unable to donate blood for a while due to his low hemoglobin level.

He did not give up though and he later improved his diet after conducting research on how to get enough nutrients from vegetables.

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