Hosted by Victor Prestinary

In this first special edition episode recorded out of Crested Butte, Colorado, I speak with Jackson Long of Thought for Food TV about his upcoming Vegan Alpletic Ride, which will feature famous climbs of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, while bringing awareness to the benefits and altruism of a plant-based lifestyle.

Vegan Alpletic Ride

Jackson Long (of the Thought For Food TV youtube channel) is turning a family summer vacation into an opportunity to do epic rides through the French and Italian Alps fueled by a plant-based diet. Jackson will meet with fellow racers Ian Moore and Gruffudd Pugh-Jones (Griff). Their mission will be to raise funds for Mercy for Animals (MFA), an international non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of animals.

As Jackson explains, he expanded the trip with his family to include a bicycle tour to raise money and awareness for the wellness of farmed animals. After the idea dawned on hime, Jackson called up Ian Moore, his old cycling friend from SLO, a CAT 1 cyclist and a vegan since birth, about doing famous epic climbs in Europe for the cause. Naturally, Ian signed on, followed by Griff who lives in the UK.

The transition to a plant-based diet comes with lots of questions, and the Vegan Alpletic will be addressing a number of these. How can you get enough protein? Are there enough plant-based sources of iron? What do you eat when traveling for races and tours?

Jackson chose MFA as the beneficiary due to their multi-faceted strategy: investigations into factory farms, education about a plan-based lifestyle, corporate outreach, health benefits, and environmental impacts, without focusing on the vegan ‘dogma’. Coupled with their new platform for individuals to create their own donation programs MFA was the perfect fit for the Vegan Alpletic.

The group will be sponsored in part by Vegan Athletic Apparel, who is providing the kits for the ride. Vegan Athletic is operated by vegan athletes who go the extra mile in utilizing ethically sourced materials and labor for their line of products.

As Jackson says, cycling and racing can be very self-centered, but the Vegan Alpletic event strives to shift the cycling community into thinking more about bigger picture ideas – beyond races and Strava times, and how to play a role as athletic ambassadors for a healthier and compassionate lifestyle.

To maximize their trip, they will be using ‘base camps’ in the cities, while doing the routes with light road bikes set-up for climbing. Although it would have been fun to do a bike-packing trip, Jackson decided to do the tour this way to make it more feasible to create videos and content, without “wasting” the day away in the saddle.

Colorado was the favored training location this year for mountain preparation. Jackson pushed himself to do long climbs everyday – climbs which replicated the Alps passes. Without focusing on top-end interval training, he chose to concentrate on building endurance and base fitness.

As far as challenges go, Jackson has never really done a fundraiser, and said the logistics and organization of the event has proved to be a large undertaking, but finds inspiration in the unpredictability of traveling. With a lofty goal of raising $10k for MFA, the team has their work cut out for them, but Jackson remains excited and in good spirits.

The Tour

The riding will begin in the first days of July, with a road trip from from Tuscany, Italy to Grenoble, France. The routes will be all road, focused on climbing in the Alps of Italy and France. Ian and Jackson will meet Griff in Grenoble, a mountain town in the French Alps near Alpe d’Huez. After a few days of climbing, they will transfer to Chambéry, this year’s Stage 9 Tour de France finish, which they plan to ride the day before the TdF comes to town. Then on to Bormio, Italy, near Swiss border and gateway to the Stelvio, Gavia, and Mortirolo climbs. After a week, the team will drive back through Europe and up to Griff’s neighborhood of Wales, UK for bonus rides.

Jackson says he is particularly excited about climbing the Stelvio out of Bormio, made famous from the Giro d’Italia. The flexible tour plan is really what Jackson thrives on – in the excitement of adventure. The trip is about adventure, taking on challenges as they come, without the worry of a strict schedule. This is the beauty of touring in a small group.

After the Vegan Alpletic main course, the group plans to visit Paris, Florence, and Tuscany (in no particular order), with Tuscany boasting the bucket-list worthy Strade Bianche course, also up for grabs.

Mercy For Animals

Mercy for Animals is possibly the largest and well known vegan organization, alongside The Humane League. MFA’s mission is to minimize the suffering of animals – particularly farmed animals – as much as possible. While pet animals receive huge donations nationally, farmed animals receive a meager 1% of animal-related donations. Rated #1 by Animal Charity Evaluators for a number of years, MFA’s projects range greatly, with a strong international team of professional animal advocates. They have a strong reputation for using donations to create effective change with minimal waste.

Donation dollars from the Vegan Alpletic event will help MFA’s various projects, including undercover investigations into abusive practices, outreach to the largest corporations involved in distribution and consumption of animal products, and educational efforts to the public. MFA has a very well put together Vegetarian Starter Guide, with tons of information and ideas about trying a plant-based diet or incorporating more plant-based meals.

If you are interested in MFA’s mission and supporting Jackson’s Vegan Alpletic ride, the easiest place to donate is donate.mercyforanimals.org/veganalpletic. You can follow along the entire experience by watching the Thought For Food youtube channel, where Jackson will be regularly posting vlogs documenting the tour along with a culmination documentary when they return stateside.

Thought For Food TV

Jackson graduated from University of Colorado at Boulder degree integrated physiology and public health. He road raced as a teenager through college at the elite amateur (CAT 1) level. He transitioned to a vegan diet several years ago after experienced health problems due to his racing-induced obsession to diet. With the help of his friend, Ian, and endless online resources, Jackson ditched the meat and dairy, and continues his cycling lifestyle enthusiastically to this day.

Jackson and Aaron Stuber, the other co-founder of Thought for Food, remain vegan because of the issues brought on by factory farming: the ethical considerations and environmental devastation of unnecessarily consuming animal products.

What’s in store for the future? Jackson’s life is planned up until his return to the US at the very end of July, with hopes to continue growing Thought For Food, and connecting with the growing meatless industry.

 

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