Holding Back the Years | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

Holding Back the Years

Holding Back the Years

These people share their personal stories!

Julie Jackson, 36 of Shrewsbury

"I have been vegetarian since 1999 and this year decided to go vegan. I put my youthful looks down to not overloading my body with toxins and chemicals. When people find out my age, they are surprised. I explain that I try not to take life too seriously and watch what I put in and on my body. I have a few rescued ex-battery hens so am outdoors in the fresh air in all weathers enjoying their company. I certainly feel young for my age and in some ways refuse to grow up. I rarely get ill and notice how healthy my hair and nails are. People at work frustrate me. They sit there with their meat sandwiches and fizzy pop and then complain about their ailments. One who is obese and a big meat eater – had a stroke before hitting 50!"

Judi Hewitt, 62 of Rhyl (and winner of Viva!’s award for Best Local Campaigner)

"I became vegetarian at nine years old. It started after asking my mother why what I was eating was called tongue. She told me and I ran over to the mirror, stuck out my own tongue and saw it was much the same as an animal’s. I was so repulsed I never ate meat again! At 44 I went vegan because I was shocked at dairy farming and live exports. I can remember looking at old and wrinkly people of my age and thinking, ‘God, am I really as old as them?’ Apparently not as our new neighbour remarked to my husband that I looked incredibly young close up. A few weeks ago I talked to two elderly ladies about reversing heart disease through a vegan diet and they asked my age. When I said 62 their mouths dropped open! I think that meat is a poison that slowly retards the body’s cells. I eat plenty of pulses, fruits and vegetables and I do a lot of hill walking (my soul food) with my dog, Holly. There’s no doubt in my mind that being vegan keeps me younger and active. I certainly don’t feel my age. What more proof do people need?"

Jane Easton, 55 of Bristol

"I went veggie in 1979 and vegan eight years ago. I felt better and more energised. I think meat-eating starts to catch up with people in their 40s. People are complimentary about my age so I tell them I have a dodgy picture in the attic! I enjoy feeling young because quality of life is vital – I can still walk up steep, Welsh hills, do yoga, run a few miles, and go dancing and long may it last. I’ve seen too many contemporaries and relatives with arthritis, heart disease or dodgy lungs who don’t enjoy their bodies and have discomfort or pain."

Piers Warren, 48 of Reepham

"I went veggie 20 years ago because of factory farming, health reasons and the planet! I felt a lot healthier – ‘cleaner’ and less bloated. I eat lots of home-grown veg and simply feel young. So I’m shocked when I remember how old I am – but I don’t feel on the verge of a heart attack as many of my meat-eating friends are. I teach people wildlife filming and my veg growing gives me exercise."

Lesley Richardson, 59 of Newport Pagnell Bucks

"I went vegetarian 19 years ago and vegan five years later. After many years in Australia I became aware of the horrors of ‘mulesing’, live sheep exports and that millions of sheep died in the heat of summer. I eat well and have more energy than my meat-eating friends. I am active with my two young grandchildren and I’m often chided for walking too fast! The only time I was anaemic was when I ate meat! I work in a comprehensive school and staff were amazed when I told them I was semi-retiring at Christmas because I was 60!"

Joya Ghose, 50 of Jersey

"I’ve been a vegetarian for 35 years and I’m often told I look young for my 50 years. I was overweight as a kid – not surprising as I had a fried breakfast every morning and cereal was never suggested. That ended when I became a vegetarian and it helped me to avoid becoming an overweight adult. I feel fit and energetic and jog five miles twice a week and dance. I have a passion for bananas! Last year saw a 30-year reunion of my secondary school and I was one of the two youngest-looking people there. The other is also a vegetarian!. When people find out my age, they usually don’t believe it. “I thought you were in your 30s” is a compliment I don’t tire of!"

Mike Maybury, 74 of Portsmouth

"Maybe I’m young looking and young feeling because of the company I keep! It’s also the wholefood vegetarian diet I’ve had since I was 17 – lots of antioxidants in berries, garlic, pomegranates, turmeric, green tea, grapeseed, spirulina, bilberry and kelp. I haven’t smoked or drunk alcohol as an adult. People often think that I’m in my 50s. Perhaps they need glasses! Of my three brothers, one is a doctor with six ‘collapsed’ spinal discs. His warnings that I would start to get aches and pains at 60 haven't come true. Another brother had a heart attack 30 years ago and has had replacement knee joints. My third brother has had a life-threatening, long-term ‘bleeding’ complaint, has had a serious cancer removed and spent a lot of time in hospital. Their diets aren’t bad but they’re not wholefood or vegetarian. At a recent event of over 50s, most were overweight, many disabled and all wanted to sit down. The young people I meet when dancing – my favourite exercise – regard my health and energy as exceptional and say their parents and grandparents ‘behave like old people’. They say they want to ‘be like me’ when they’re my age!"