“Kicking Animal Abuse Into Touch!”Brendon Bale
The common misconception that rugby is a brutal game played by a bunch of ‘beer-chugging, meat-devouring savages’ is being put to the test. No more so than by the first-ever vegan rugby team in the world. Meet the Green Gazelles and their inspirational leader and founder, Brendon Bale.
Brendon Bale – Vegan Rugby Hero
Brendon made the switch to a vegan diet to support his partner who was suffering chronic back pain due to a herniated disk. Faced with a potential spinal operation as suggested by 80% of doctors, both partners instead decided to make the vegan transition as a last attempt to avoid surgery.
Just a week after completely switching to plant-based they felt more energised, sharper, and stronger. Furthermore, they found that surgery was no longer necessary! It just goes to show what phenomenal health benefits are available on a vegan diet. Amazing!
From one miracle to another, Brendon recognised the abundant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities veganism offered and thought to harness it for his greatest passion, rugby. Playing since the age of 6 for Salisbury Rugby Club, the sport has always been such an important aspect of Brendon’s life.
Turning vegan taught Brendon that he could perform much better in all areas on the pitch. He learnt he could train harder, recover quicker, as well as increase his strength and agility. All these aspects are key ingredients for playing good rugby. So, all in all, tying such a hard-hitting sport like rugby with a vegan diet presents itself as a no-brainer.
Are There Any Vegan Rugby Players?
It’s not only Brendon and his great Green Gazelle comrades on the vegan rugby mission. Fairly recent unveilings have seen current NZ superstar, TJ Perenara, reveal he is also vegan. Tweeting on March 30, 2020, the All-Black scrum-half said,
“Been doing some research on how to improve my diet as a vegan athlete and come across a lot of hate from people talking it down. I personally haven’t had any negative reaction from it and feel pretty good pre and post games.”
Alongside TJ, we also see Argentinian International, Juan Pablo Socino, who currently plays for the 2019 English Premiership champions, Saracens and is helping behind the scenes with coaching at the Green Gazelles. There is also Rugby League star, 6f.5 giant, Anthony Mullally and Scotland and Harlequins No 8, Jade Elizabeth Konkel to add to this impressive list of current professional vegan rugby players. Former rugby stars such as Miro Bergamasco and Ben Cohen have also made the switch since retiring.
The myth that vegan athletes can’t perform to the same levels as meat-eaters are being dumped left, right and centre. The Harvard Medical School has found evidence that proves a plant-based diet speeds up recovery, reduces muscle soreness, alleviates creaky joints, and can curtail injury-induced stints on the sidelines. Both these rugby pros and ex-pros, alongside Green Gazelles, are proving that the stigma attached to veganism and athleticism ought to get kicked into touch for good! Utter nonsense. If anything, as a rugby player, you’re better off vegan.
The First Ever Vegan Rugby Team
Founded in the UK, the Green Gazelles are a global invitational rugby team competing in 7s, Beach and 15s Rugby. Any player in the world, male or female, from beginners to professionals are welcome to join a team now boasting over 140 members. Green Gazelles have already acquired an impressive array of talent to their ranks, with the likes of former Gloucester, London Irish, and Bristol Bears Hooker, Darren Dawidiuk, and former Wasps players Lewis Robling and Connor McDonald. Alongside pro players, there is a celeb chef, Gaz Oakley, labelled “a star of the meat-free world” providing world-class vegan food and recipes to the squad and fans.
Green Gazelles, under the inspiration, power, and influence of veganism are growing stronger every day. A rugby club that connects local people worldwide, yet transcends locality, becoming a global vegan sports icon unlike any other rugby club in the world.
How Are the Green Gazelles Tackling Environmental Issues?
Brendon Bale did not create the Green Gazelles just to improve upon performance and showcase how a plant-based diet can be effective in a heavy-hitting sport like rugby. As we know, veganism has a far greater incentive for positive global change in the form of eliminating animal cruelty and establishing a sustainable future for the planet.
“Tackling environmental issues by promoting more sustainable products, plant-based food and raising funds to plant more trees for carbon neutrality”
One of the ways in which Green Gazelles display this sustainable vision is through their kit and merchandise being made completely by recycled plastic, provided by Tsunami Sportswear. Furthermore, Canterbury confirmed with the Green Gazelles that they no longer use leather when making their rugby boots. The post read,
“We can confirm that all of our rugby boots are vegan-friendly… We do not use leather anymore, it’s all synthetics and we do not use any animal products when manufacturing our boots.”
The Green Gazelles are also promoting eco-friendly and sustainable activities on and off the pitch. In partnership with The Word Forest Organisation, they plan to plant 1000 new trees in 2021, asking for donations of just £2.50, “less than a pint of beer” in order to make a big difference to the environment.
Future Green Gazelle Events
There is a big event booked for 5th December 2021, entitled ‘The Big Green Clash’ which will see Green Gazelles come up against top opposition at a major London stadium. Green Gazelles will get to showcase their impressive talent against a tough team whilst promoting veganism, sustainability and raising money for The Word Forest Organisation.
2021 is looking to be a very exciting year for the club, with tournament appearances in LA, London, Brussels, and Dubai alongside many more exhibition matches. The club is currently seeking sponsorship with many partnership opportunities still available. More reason to get behind this vegan rugby club and help fund their journey so they can continue to represent animals & environmental issues on the rugby field!
How to Support This Vegan Rugby Club’s Mission
Green Gazelles is just an incredible story showing how veganism can help save the world through a brutal yet beautiful sport such as rugby.
Don’t forget to follow them on Instagram to find out how you can support them further!
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A curious, creative and passionate freelance writer who has covered a broad range of cultural subjects with a keen nose for journalism. Educated with a first-class honours degree and a MA in English Literature. Experience ranges from SEO blog posts to music journalism