Green Football Weekend: Vegan Hearts star Katie Rood talks about how we can help save the planet

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From riding your bike to having a veggie meal, Hearts winger Katie Rood is happy to shine a light on what we can all do to help save the planet ahead of Green Football Weekend.

Football clubs around the world are joining together this weekend to campaign against the climate crisis. Starting this Friday, Green Football Weekend aims to promote the little things we can do to help save the environment, whether that is a cold shower or turning the thermostat down a degree. Rood, a New Zealand international who signed for hearts last summer, is a vegan and keen environmentalist and hopes everyone can do their part this weekend.

“That’s the key,” she told the Edinburgh Evening News. “One person can’t make a huge difference, but individual action added up collectively. It really does make a difference. Football is the biggest game across the world and has so much following and fanfare around it that you can imagine the potential if everyone just made small changes in their life. What a difference that could make.

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“It’s a cool initiative to just get people engaged and thinking about the impact we have on the planet. How we as a collective of football fans, players, administrators and clubs, in general, can do our bit to make a difference in the world.”

The campaign is encouraging football fans to get involved by tallying up every green action they take. This is then put on a leaderboard with all of the English and Scottish clubs to see who comes out victorious and takes home the Green Football Cup. Manchester United sit top of the table, while Hearts are currently 54th. Rood is doing her bit this weekend by doing more green actions than normal.

“Given the situation that the world is in at the moment, everyone needs to take responsibility”, she explained. “If we can do our bit to encourage fan engagement and the community to take more positive steps to live more harmoniously with nature, then we should be doing everything we can to make sure that happens.

“I’ve had my bike out a few times this week instead of driving. I love a veggie meal, I’ve been vegan for eight years now so it’s kind of default but it still makes a difference. Just little things like turning the thermostat down and putting a few extra layers on whenever I can. The big one for me is to just try and encourage people to make these little changes as well. Try and get some of my teammates to have some veggie meals.”

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Despite cutting all meat out of her diet, the New Zealander international has not seen a drop off in her physical stature and continues to play at the top of her game. She was part of the first-ever Juventus women’s team in the 2017-18 season when they won the title in their inaugural campaign. Now ripping it up in the SWPL1, she explains that a vegan diet is much easier than you think.

Katie Rood signed for Hearts in the summer, becoming one of their first-ever full-time players. Picture: Malcolm MacKenzieKatie Rood signed for Hearts in the summer, becoming one of their first-ever full-time players. Picture: Malcolm MacKenzie
Katie Rood signed for Hearts in the summer, becoming one of their first-ever full-time players. Picture: Malcolm MacKenzie

“So for me, initially, I was worried that my athleticism might drop,” she explained. “You are told all the time you need to eat animals if you want to be strong. I found it actually had the opposite effect. Within two weeks of cutting out all meat and dairy especially, because I drank a lot coming from New Zealand, I felt great. I had more energy, more vitality than I ever had and my athletic performance just skyrocketed. Especially my recovery, which I think enabled me to go on and do more. I am a huge advocate for it because I have felt the differences in my life and I’m very happy.

“For breakfast, I’m loving a bagel, just like an avocado, tomato and some hemp seeds on top. I also enjoy a tofu scramble and a nice breakfast burrito. Then for lunch, pre-training, maybe like a spaghetti bolognese with kidney beans or something like that in it. Dinner is just maybe leftover lunch, or I’ll prep something and make a pasta bake. All sorts really. I just love chucking veggies together and making sure I hit the proteins, the carbs and the fats.

“It took a little while, maybe just a couple of weeks just to get the hang of it. Now there are so many resources online. If you go anywhere on YouTube and just type in vegan meals, it's all there and there is so much inspiration to gain from it. It’s a lot simpler than people imagine it being. It's no hindrance to me.”

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Hearts themselves are also getting involved with the campaign and the squad recently took part in the fun layer-up challenge. The aim is to get as many pieces of clothing on as possible in 30 seconds. It seems that Rood can also add being a fortune teller to her list of abilities as she got the eventual winner of the competition bang on.

“As a team, we are going to try and do the layer-up challenge”, she said. “It’s a race in 30 seconds to try and see how many layers you can get on. We are going to get all our t-shirts and give it a go and see who can do it the quickest in our team. I think the current winner got nine on in 30 seconds, which I think is pretty impressive. But it's just to bring awareness that instead of turning the thermostat up and using more energy, we can put more layers on first.

“One of the shorter ones may win it because they are closer to the ground. Maybe like an Erin Rennie or something. Sorry Erin!”