Despite the widespread misunderstanding that vegans don’t get enough protein, meat-free athletes keep setting the bar higher. Mike Fremont, a 100-year-old plant-based runner, proves that you don’t need meat to live your best life.
The oldest known vegan runner worldwide, he holds marathon records for the single-year age groups of 88, 90, and 91. He also set the American one-mile record for the 95-99 age group at 96 years old.
To add to his accomplishments, he competed in the Canoe National Championships at 99, making him the oldest contestant.
The centenarian celebrated his milestone birthday in February 2022 with a jog around his Florida neighborhood.
Fremont took up a vegan diet at 69 years old following a colon cancer diagnosis. Doctors urged him to have life-saving surgery, but he opted to heal himself with a nutritious plant-based diet.
“I said no, I was going on a diet!” Fremont told Great Vegan Athletes. “In two and a quarter years the tumor began to bleed, and I was operated upon. The surgeon looked for metastasis in 35 places and found zero. In other words, my macrobiotic diet, [which became] a vegan diet, [which became] a whole-foods plant-based diet, killed the metastases!”
In July 2022, the acclaimed plant-based athlete and author Rich Roll asked Fremont about his secrets to success. He wanted to know how the 100-year-old maintained his endurance and competitive nature despite his age.
When Roll asked Fremont what being 100 felt like, he said the last few years had been the best.
Roll then asked: “How are you able to not just run marathons and half marathons in your late eighties and over the course of your nineties, but also set world records? What is the secret to longevity here?”
“No question in my mind, absolutely, it is diet that has determined my existence. My continued existence and my beautiful health,” Fremont replied with a smile.
The Vegan Runner Doesn’t Plan On Stopping Any Time Soon
The vegan lifestyle seems to impact Fremont’s athletic endeavors positively. Fremont’s exercise regimen includes jogging five miles weekly and kayaking and weight training.
And Fremont doesn’t have any intention of quitting in the foreseeable future. With the encouragement of his running partner Harvey Lewis, he feels more enthusiastic about running than ever. Lewis, legendary ultramarathon runner and fellow vegan, suggested a 5k run with Fremont for a 100th birthday celebration. However, Fremont insisted upon running an even longer distance!
“I asked him about the Flying Pig Marathon and if he was interested in doing the 5K, as we have done it the past couple of years,” Harvey said. “He said, ‘I don’t feel it’s really a race unless we do 10K’ with a big grin. No arguing with Mike. 10K it is!”
Like Fremont, other athletes have noticed their health and performance levels improve on a vegan diet. For example, Phoenix Suns player Chris Paul found that a plant-based diet enhanced his basketball career and personal life. He recently made his 12th appearance on the NBA All-Star team.
“When I first went plant-based, it was for performance purposes but once I saw how my body changed and how I felt – it was for life,” Paul said in an interview with GQ. “Years ago, I probably wouldn’t have even gone outside to run around with my kids and all the other activities because my body would be aching. Now, with the constant lifting and making sure that my body is always ready, it’s been a good lifestyle change for me.”
Other notable meat-free athletes include:
- Venus Williams – tennis
- Colin Kaepernick – NFL football player
- Scott Jurek – Ultramarathon runner
- Patrik Baboumian – bodybuilder
- Meagan Duhamel – figure skater
- Derrick Morgan – pro-NFL player
Studies Show That Vegan Diets Can Improve Health
Research shows that plant-based diets may reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as breast, prostate, and colorectal. The European Parliament recently called on the EU to encourage a vegan diet to lower cancer risks. The proposal is significant since meat and animal products have been a part of European culture for centuries.
While plant-based diets could prevent cancer development, they have not been proven to treat existing cancer. However, Fremont seems to defy scientific explanations by curing his cancer with healthy eating!
In addition to reducing cancer risk, a plant-based diet can provide many other health benefits. One study published in Plos Medicine Journal found that a vegan diet could increase life expectancy by ten years. The research states that the diet enhances longevity by lowering heart disease and stroke risk factors.
“A sustained dietary change may give substantial health gains for people of all ages both for optimized and feasible changes,” the study authors said. “Gains are reduced substantially with delayed initiation of changes, particularly when approaching the age of 80 years. An increase in the intake of legumes, whole grains, and nuts, and a reduction in the intake of red meat and processed meats, contributed most to these gains.”
Another American Heart Association(AHA) study reported that a vegan diet drastically lowers heart disease risk later in life. The research discovered that eating a plant-based diet in young adulthood minimized heart disease risk in middle age. However, a meat-free diet can benefit health at any age, as Fremont proves with his remarkable endurance.
Final Thoughts on 100-Year-Old Vegan Marathon Runner
Despite his age, centenarian Mike Fremont still runs marathons, lifts weights, and kayaks. He credited a plant-based diet for his exceptional health and said it even cured his cancer. Doctors urged him to have surgery, but he turned them down and decided to heal with nutrition. Thankfully, a plant-based diet killed the tumor and restored his health, much to the doctor’s surprise.
Fremont proves that growing up doesn’t have to mean growing old. Following a healthy diet and remaining active can still feel twenty years old, even at a hundred!