Heather Mills, vegan skiier
High profile for her work as an entrepreneur and a campaigner as well as her sporting life, Heather Mills is known as one of the leading athletes globally in her sport of downhill skiing.
She has campaigned on the issue of landmines for fourteen years, raising funds and awareness. This included helping to clear over 20 million square metres of land of mines and enabling 400,000 amputees to be fitted with prosthesis. She's also been a pioneer in the availability of vegan food. She's donated $1 million worth of plant-based foods to Hunts Point Alliance for Children who assist in provision of food in the Bronx, New York.
The accident and finding vegan
Heather competes in disability sports as she suffered the loss of part of her leg in 1993. She was involved in a collision with a police motorcycle responding to an emergency which left her with a punctured lung and loss of the left leg 15cm below the knee.
Soon afterwards she was given a raw vegan diet by a Florida Health institute who assisted with the healing of her wound. “I’d spent months in hospital with a leg infection. I was told if the infection did not heal I would have to lose my knee, so I was prepared to try anything. This led me to natural healing at the Hippocrates institute in Florida 1993.”
Her prosthetic limb was replaced repeatedly as the stump changed during the healing process, which encouraged her to collect 22,000 limbs which were sent to Croatian amputees.
Heather appreciated the medical benefits of a vegan diet, and she is also outspoken about other aspects of veganism, particularly the animal cruelty aspect. She continues to be entirely vegan, including while travelling, always taking provisions for airline journeys. She has also campaigned on animal issues, notably playing a pivotal role in the campain to ban the import of cat and dog fur from China to the EU, whiich was approved in 2008.
In 2005 she became a patron of vegetarian group Viva!, and has been involved in campaigns against fur, the Canadian seal hunt, intensive farming and others. In 2009 she opened a vegan restaurant, V-Bites. In 2015 she opened a second in Chester, with the opening attended by Great Vegan Athlete Neil Robertson. She has plans for many more. “We plan to roll out 25 more across the UK and then move in to America” she told us in summer 2015. “A third one should be in Bristol in the coming months.”
Heather also owns V-Bites foods, which produces fake meat products available by mail order and in some stores. “I consider it the biggest and best Vegan faux meat , cheese and fish food company in the world,” she said proudly. “We have 74 products and it's in 24 countries.”
In 2012 Heather competed at the United states’ Adaptive Alpine Skiing National Championshoips World Cup in Colorado, where she won four Golds. In 2013 she won a Silver World Cup medal for Slalom in New Zealand. “This was especially rewarding , as I only had one year to learn” she told us. As 2015 unfolded her successes culminated in an amazing three month period that gave her five world records. She’s proved herself a versatile winter sports athlete, with records in sports as diverse as Skeleton Bobseigh, Bobsleigh, Ski Jumping and Speed Skiing. The Speed Skiing World record was set at 167 km/h and Heather was the first woman to do this with one leg.
Team mates and coaches have not been educated about veganism, but Heather is proud of a high number of conversions. “Luckily I know how to cook and good food is a great way for a quick conversion to being a vegan. Compassionate animal lovers convert already and environmentalists eventually get there, but people need to see how good the food is too.”
While she has previously used a raw vegan diet, Heather now eats wholefood vegan food. She lists kale, broccoli, spinach, beans, pulses, quinoa, avocados and rice among her favourite foods, as well as all veg salads, and vegan protein bars. Faux VBites meats from her food company also feature in her diet and she uses hemp protein powder to aid training, along with fruit such as bananas, apple and pears.
As a world leader in her sport, she plans to keep going and achieve more. “My plan is to improve the world with Veganism and that includes showing that healthy Vegans can be the best in sport.”
“I plan to win a gold medal for downhill skiing in Alpine sports in Korea 2018 at the age of 50.”