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Greg Chappell is a household name in Australia. Not only is he a well respected sportsman and international cricketer, but he is also a vegan.

If you have ever wondered whats new in veganism, give Greg's books a read. In them he covers two extremely inflexible areas that veganism has yet to penetrate successfully" the "whole" family (school kids and how to get them buying salad rolls instead of meat pies); and that oh-so-difficult over-40s male.

Now I'm not over 40 nor male but I simply could not put these books down. The links with the psycho-physical aspects of diet offer a refreshing glimpse into the complexities of food, our psyche and our enjoyment of life.

Here Greg talks about his own journey into middle age, his life-changing decision to become vegan in cahoots with his wife Judy, and what the effects of giving up dairy were on him. He also comments on the macho meat-eating myth that is still very much a part of Aussie culture.

 

Interview by Claudette Vaughan, Jan 2001. From Vegan Voice magazine

Claudette: Was the book "Health and Fitness: A Repair Manual for Men" the outcome of what it meant to you to reach middle-age and beyond?
Greg: Yes. It is basically a natural extention from my own experience in reaching that time of life. I have read alot of material on health and diet over the past 25 years and have experimented with my own body to see what works for me. When we made the change to a pure vegetarian diet seven years ago we had the help of the late Joseph Oros as to cooking and making up recipes.
Claudette: What ind of response have you received from the general public to your books?
Greg: The feedback has been extremely positive. I have people stop me in the street and in restaurants or calling or emailing me with an amazing amount of positive feed-back. The only negetivity came when a reviewer called a considerable number of dietitians until finding one at the AIS who disagreed with giving up dairy products. Many people have told me how their health has been turned around by reading the books. That's very encouraging.
Claudette: Why don't you use the V word? Do you think it turns people off?
Greg: I made a conscious decision to try and reach as many people as possible with the books. Bearing in mind that it took me 20 odd years to come to a pure vegetarian diet I felt it would be too confronting for most people, men in particular, to be hit with such a large life-style change. I believe the popularity of the books has vindicated that decision. Most people won't become vegan but all can make substancial life changes that will benefit their health and the environment. What they need is informed information on which to base their decisions.
Claudette: John Wright, the NZ cricketer, was known to use visualisation techniques to prepare himself for an international match. You also speak about the importance of the psycho-physical link. Could you elaborate on that?
Greg:

My mental skills were more important to me than my physical ones once I had made it to international cricket. I practised them every day and refined them continually. My attitude had most to do with my success at that level.

Training myself to act and be positive was the critical factor to consistant performance. I believe that is the case with day-to-day life as well. If we were taught to maintain a healthy and positive outlook to life and each other we would all be better human beings and the world would be a happier and healthier place.

Claudette: You became a vegan for health reasons, but of course it's difficult to ignore the ethical issues as well. Is there any animal that you particularly identify with?
Greg:

I have become more conscious of the ethical issues the longer I have been a pure vegetarian. It is impossible to ignore the ethical and environmental aspects of our meat-eating culture. There is no one animal I feel for over any other, for all intensively-farmed animals suffer a reduction in the quality of life. From my own point of view I would like to see farming returned to free-range farming at least.

Because most people do not want to stop eating meat I cannot see the day when the world will be completely meat free. That is, willingly. It may be forced upon us one day if we keep spoiling our environment and food, air and water supplies.

Claudette: You have made mention in your books of mainstream Aussie culture, esp the over-40s male, still thinking that eating meat is considered a masculine-macho thing to do. Do you ever see this changing and if so, how will it change?
Greg: Unless it is forced upon us I believe the marketing push for meat and dairy will always make it difficult for the majority of people to accept that it is a real meal if it does not contain meat. While the myth of dairy being a "health food" and meat being necessary for iron and other nutrients is allowed to be foisted on an unsuspecting public, most people will continue to ignore the impact that their eating habits have on their health.
Claudette: How have your meat-eating friends responded to your lifestyle changes?
Greg: Most of our friends have regared us with some suspicion. A minority have been supportive while a large number have been openly disdainful of our chioce. Now of this has concerned us overly for we have made the decision for our own reasons based upon informed information. Having experienced both a meat-eating lifestyle and a non-meat-eating lifestyle I know which suits my body best and I will continue to eat the way I do as long as those benefits continue. The fact that it is better both for the environment and for my health is all the encouragement I need.
Claudette: You have mentioned that the effects of giving up dairy were immediate. What were they?
Greg: I had suffered with a post-nasal drip all my life. Colds, flus, and sore throats were a way of life and I was always full of mucus. From a fitness point of view I always struggled with long-distance running and fitness work, I was always tired and usually hungry. Within 24 hours of giving up dairy products my post-nasal drip had stopped, my energy levels rose and my ability to run and to train generally increased around 100%. From that day I have not intentionally ingested dairy products and instead of a cold a month I now suffer colds rarely. If I am unwell it rarely lasts more than a day or two. I am fitter and healthier now than I was in my 20s. Generally when I feel off colour I stop eating solids for 24 hours and just have fresh juices, water and broth and rest as much as possible. This is usually enough to resume full health again. If I were to suggest one thing to delete from the diet for anyone it would be dairy products. Don't believe the myth that you need dairy for calcium as there are other less harmful ways to get it in your diet.
Claudette: Do you cook?
Greg: I do cook although only modestly. I tend to specialise in vegetable soups and pasta. I also do baked vegetables, and although I love veggie curries, I have yet to find a recipe I prefer to any that Judy makes up.
Claudette: What are some of your favourite?
Greg: Anything vegan but I do have a particular fondness for curries, either Indian or Thai. I like Thai noodle dishes as well.
Claudette: What is your philosophy on life?
Greg: My basic philosophy can be summed up by the phase 'Treat others as you would have them treat you."
Claudette: If you were stranded on a desert island which book would you choose to take with you?
Greg: I would probably choose something to do with yoga and meditation for I would obviously have a lot of time to practise both. I would need something to keep both mind and body healthy and I have not found anything better than these two activities.
" It is within the power of all of us to achieve good health by
changing the way we live and, in particular, changing the way we eat."
Greg Chappell
FACTS AND FIGURES FOR THE CRICKET ENTHUSIAST

Greg Chappell is number 18 on the list of all-time Test Averages.
He's 14th on the list of all-time averages who've played 20 tests or more.
He's 9th on the list of all-time averages who've played 50 tests or more!

The Australian Cricket Board last year announced its Test Team of the Century. Greg Chappell was named in the 11 man team. Twenty cricket luminaries, including past and present Australian cricketers, international cricketers and members of the media, formed an academy of selectors to select the Test Team of the Century.

Players received a vote for each nomination with places in the final team being decided on the number of votes each player received.

Chappell as a stylish batsmen with an impressive record spanning his Test debut in 1970 through till 1984. Chappell played in 87 matches making 7110 runs at an average of 53.86. This included 24 hundreds, 31 fiftys and a 247 not out.

Chappell was also an exceptional slips fieldsman, with 122 catches to his name. As a bowler he took 47 wickets at an average of 40.70, with best figures of 5-61.

Source: South Australian Cricket Association

Test Matches
  M I NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct St
Batting 87 151 19 7110 247* 53.86 24 31 122
  Balls M R W Ave Best 5 10 SR Econ
Bowling 5327 208 1913 47 40.70 5-61 1 113.3 2.15
 
One-Day Internationals
  M I NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct St
Batting 74 72 14 2331 138* 40.18 3 14 23
  Balls M R W Ave Best 4w 5w SR Econ
Bowling 3108 41 2097 72 29.12 5-15 2 43.1 4.04