Vegan Driver Wins BBC Green Sport Award

Motorsport may not be the first topic people would think of when it comes to all things green and vegan, but increasingly drivers are leading the way with plant-based diets and vocal pressure to move the sport away from its traditional gas-guzzling, polluting ways.

Among the names many might not have heard until now is former NASCAR series driver Leilani Munter, who has won the BBC’s Evergreen Athlete award for her efforts to raise awareness of environmental issues. 

After watching the film An Inconvenient Truth by former US vice-president Al Gore in 2006, Ms Munter became an activist, rejecting sponsorships from oil companies, polluting firms or those that tested on animals. In 2011 she went further and gave up meat and dairy. It wasn’t enough for her just to be using products like vegan soap; she had to be promoting a different approach.  

This led to some significant changes in the sport. Ms Munter’s team became, in 2014, the first to run its pit box on solar power. 

Explaining why she threw herself into this role with such vigour, she explained: “Part of what let me throw caution to the wind was I felt like such an odd one out being a woman in a man's sport. “

“My tag line was 'Never underestimate a vegan hippie chick with a race car”, she added.

Now aged 48, Ms Munter retired three years ago, declaring that her mission now involves being "behind a camera rather than behind a wheel", but she has shown that being a vegan environmentalist is clearly possible even in a sport normally associated with petrol heads.

Nowadays we are becoming increasingly used to having racing drivers pushing green issues. Seven-time Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton is also a vegan and has spoken about making motorsport more sustainable, while 2016 champion Nico Rosberg has been active in promoting electric cars and believes Formula One will adopt the technology eventually. 

It just goes to show it is possible to be green, have a plant-based diet but still be a superstar.