Fauja Singh: 100 Years Old, World Record Holder, Vegetarian
Just days after scoring a Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to complete a marathon, 100-year-old runner Fauja Singh finds himself with another first: he’s the oldest person to star in a PETA ad campaign!
Fauja made headlines around the world when he completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday. He rediscovered his passion for distance running at age 81 – crediting his vegetarian diet with giving him awe-inspiring stamina and longevity. A perfect entrant to PETA’s vegetarian hall of fame! “Fauja’s vitality is an inspiring demonstration of the positive effects that a vegetarian diet can have on our physical and mental well-being”, says PETA Manager Mimi Bekhechi. “A meat-free diet not only reduces our chances of developing life-threatening illnesses but also, as Fauja demonstrates, helps us to live longer!”
Eating animal products has been conclusively linked to heart disease, diabetes, strokes, obesity and cancer. Vegans and vegetarians are much fitter and trimmer, on average, than meat-eaters are. The meat industry also causes animals on factory farms unimaginable suffering, as they are crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds; wire cages; farrowing crates and other confinement systems. Whether you’re 8 or 80, it’s always a good time to consider a healthy diet. Check out our vegetarian/vegan starter kit for tips on making the switch and read below to find out what Fauja Singh has to say about his winning diet:
How long have you been vegetarian? If not for your whole life, what prompted you?
In the Sikh religion, we eat to live, not live to eat. Sikhism does not permit followers to eat any animal who has suffered – so being vegetarian is part of my faith. I have been predominantly vegetarian my whole life because of my religion.
As an athlete, what have you found to be the benefits of a vegetarian diet?
I am originally from the Punjab, which is the green belt of India. We are all farmers, so we only eat what we grow – and animals don’t grow very quickly! I eat only a wholesome Punjabi vegetarian diet.
Many athletes still mistakenly think they have to eat meat – are people surprised when you tell them about your vegetarian diet?
I think I’ve challenged that myth! You need a balanced and wholesome diet. It doesn’t matter how nice to look at or sweet food is – if your body can’t digest it, why eat it? In many parts of the world, people are dying because of starvation, whilst others are dying because of overeating. My solution is just to eat what my body needs.
How many marathons have you now completed?
Eight marathons in total. Five London Marathons, two Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathons and one New York Marathon.
You are part of the Sikhs in the City running club – has your stamina and longevity inspired others to go vegetarian?
I don’t dictate what people eat – being vegetarian is part of my religion. But the average age of the Sikhs in the City (Elders) running team is 86 years!
What is your favourite vegetarian recipe?
I like anything that’s simple. I only eat one chappati and one dhal at a time. I don’t believe in waste or excessiveness. I eat a lot of ginger curry. The Punjabis will know about soondh – a dried ginger with some spices, which helps take away any excesses in your body. That is the key ingredient.
What food do you eat before a race?
I have a routine each day, and I do not change it regardless of whether or not I am in a race that day. Whenever I have any aches or pains, I always refer back to what I’ve been eating and try to make sure I alleviate that illness through eating pure foods and ginger.