The long run
ONE OF US
Names: Fran Godoy & Alberto Peláez Serrano, aka “Vegan Warriors”
Passion: Vegan Activism, Ultra-Marathons, Long-distance Cycling
Fran and Alberto are extraordinary guys. Friends for many years, they do not only share their love for extreme sports, but also their love for animals. The “Vegan Warriors” – they build a team with Jochen Eckert from Germany – run 150 kilometres per week and bike another 200 … through the mountains, to topp it all off – and they rely on a plantbased diet to fuel their bodies.
Their impetus is to spread the word about veganism and its advantages. “I have achieved more than twelve victories in different ultramarathons and marathons and in each one of them I have had the opportunity to show my ‘I don’t eat animals / No Como Animales’ message on my t-shirt on the podium”, Alberto says.
In his work life, Fran is also campaigning for animal rights in his job as a police officer in Arrecife, Lanzarote, where he runs the animal protection department. Both Fran and Alberto are members of the Lanzarote Vegano activist group. Just one of their recent spectacular actions: A 1000 km nonstop race through all of Spain last year that raised a total of more than 7000 Euro.
When exactly did you decide to go vegan? Was there one special incident/insight that fostered this choice or was it more like a gradual development?
Alberto: I decided to go completely vegan about six years ago, when I became conscious of the suffering and exploitation that the animals go through and realized that changing my lifestyle and becoming a vegan was the least I could do for them. Everything changed after visiting a small town in China as I witnessed the dog meat trade and how the animals were treated. From that moment I realized that what I was doing in consuming other animals, was exactly the same as what was ocurring to the dogs in that place.
Fran: I gradually became vegan after my father passed away with cancer, I started investigating about cancer and diet and realized that there was a huge relationship between this illness and consuming animal products. I then met Alberto Peláez, who also taught me about the ethical side of being vegan, about how animals are treated in factory farms, and this was what made me take the decision.
You care about animals a lot. Where does this love for animals stem from?
Fran: I really liked animals from a young age and used to watch documentaries about them for hours. Unfortunately I could never have any animal at home, so I think that produced a frustration in me which now makes me love and care for them even more.
Alberto: I have always considered myself as an animal lover, as my mother did teach me how to respect animals from a young age and was always feeding and taking care of stray cats and dogs.
What kind of bodily changes did you notice after changing your diet? Is it “harder” to nourish your body using plants only as an athlete?
Alberto: When I started to change my diet, what I first noticed was a more constant energy level and a quicker recovery. Another positive change was having better and lighter digestions, which is very important while running ultramarathons, due to long distances where you have to be able to eat quickly. Also, my weight in fat is lower than before, although my muscle mass has increased.
Fran: I noticed changes in me which were definitely weight loss, lower fat rate, a huge change in my muscular recovery level, lighter digestions. Also I used to suffer from a “cronical” illness, which was what the doctors told me, psoriasic arthritis, which is a joints inflamation. For years, I was medicating myself, but after 5 months of going vegan, I quit the medicine, and up until today, three years later, I feel better than ever and have not gone back to medicine.
You are both activists for the vegan cause. Over the past few years, what has changed in the way vegans are perceived by the public?
Alberto: In Spain, there is still a lot a work to do, but it is getting easier to find more and more people living a vegan lifestyle. Eating outside in restaurants, cafeterias, etc is much easier than before, due to many places already introducing vegan options in the menu. Bit by bit, we are making an effort to show others the exploitation and injustice that animals are forced to live during their short lives. Obviously, not everything comes easy, so we have to constantly raise awareness about animal suffering, it‘s a long process but I am sure we will get there.
I know people see us as “extremists”, as though we care more about animal rights than human rights, which is false, as we care about all the same, but animals do not have a voice to defend themselves, that is why we are here for them.
From your point of view, why do so many people struggle with the thought of banning meat and dairy from their diet? What is your advice to novice vegans?
Fran: I think people are scared to take a step forward because reality frightens them. It’s much easier to look the other way and ignore animal suffering and that way not feel bad about what we do daily. Another reason is that human beings are naturally selfish and most of us do not want to give up what gives us pleasure, in this case, the taste of meat and dairy. Just an advice, get informed!
Alberto: For me it‘s basic. You just have to simply put yourself in the position of the opressed, in this case, the animals, and then everything will seem easier. When you begin eating vegan food, you start discovering new recipes and many foods that are delicious and more healthy. Nothing can compare to the satisfaction you feel when knowing that no creature has suffered and died for you sake.
As a fashion company, we would like to know if you prefer to choose vegan clothing and footwear as well? Is this aspect easy for you, or is it difficult to find vegan options?
Alberto: Being vegan is not only a diet, it is a way o life, so it includes not using or abusing animals in any ways. So this means we don‘t wear anything that proceeds from them. So my answer is yes, I do prefer to wear vegan clothing and footwear. It is also very important that neither animal nor human being has been exploited to make something for us. And of course respecting the environment. Nowadays, it‘s still difficult for us to find ethical options but we still avoid wearing animal products.
Fran: I always try and check where my clothes come from and that they aren’t made with any animal products. Here in Lanzarote, where I live, it does get a bit complicated to find 100% vegan and ethical clothing. But we dont give up.
Visit Alberto on Instagram: @apelaez76
Visit Fran on Instagram: @fran.godoy.r