Kane Richardson: Australia bowler on veganism & cricket

There’s an old stereotype of the typical Australian fast bowler: big, scary, intimidating, and a win-at-all-costs mentality.

Back in 2016, Richardson and his partner adopted a vegan diet after being exposed to documentaries on the meat and dairy industries while playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.

Some wondered if the decision would affect the seamer’s performance on the field. Others mocked his lifestyle choice. But as far as the 31-year-old was concerned, all that was a non-issue.

“I never really thought about if it would impact my cricket because I didn’t care to be honest,” Richardson, who played for Birmingham Phoenix in this year’s Hundred tournament, said.

“It’s my job but there’s bigger things out there in life. I thought ‘I’ll make do – if my body changes, I’ll figure it out’. For me it wasn’t a performance thing.

“Some guys used to go ‘if you get hungry, are you going to start eating the grass?’, they used to find that kind of thing funny. Some people do still think that’s how the diet is, so it is funny when you can explain it to them and say no, there’s a whole lot more that’s available now, and it’s probably getting easier every day.”

So what does a daily meal plan look like for Richardson?

“For breakfast I try and have scrambled tofu, that’s godliness – really dress it up with some sides, avocado on toast. I try to get as many legumes in as I can, so chickpeas, beans, tofu – I actually love tofu,” says Richardson.

“Even before I turned vegetarian, I always loved eating tofu and didn’t really enjoy meat so I probably should have done it when I was a kid! That’s the main thing I base meals around. Then I can dress it up in a sandwich or however I want to have it. But I do eat a lot, that’s for sure.”

His passion for the environment doesn’t stop at tofu, though. Years of touring the world with Australia and franchise teams have opened his eyes to the effect global cricket tournaments can have on the environment.

It’s something he feels strongly about.

“One thing we don’t think about in cricket is the environmental impact this is having, and the resources this is using,” he adds.

“I get frustrated when we come to a country like the UK and you’ve got beautiful drinking water in a tap, but you see guys around the hotel that are drinking from plastic bottles all the time. I don’t want to be preachy, but you don’t have to do that.

“You can buy a bottle and then reuse that bottle the whole time. Even the impact that a season of The Hundred has in a month – we need to be better at understanding what impact that’s having.

“At what point do we realise that we need to do something about it? Change needs to come from us now. In the hotel, our washing comes back in plastic sleeves and I’m like, ‘my socks don’t need to be in plastic, they’re socks, I’m going to wear them’. I honestly feel guilty – I love playing cricket, but the impact it’s having – I just wish there were ways we could do it better.

“Whether or not you believe it, things are changing around us. The canal out the back [of the team hotel], you go for a walk and all you can see is plastic bottles in there. They don’t just disappear and go to some holy place, they go into the water, it’s never as simple as being instantly recycled.

“We all need to start thinking that way because it’s having a really big impact on everything around us. I’ve got a two-year-old at home so that’s where I start thinking, ‘we can’t be selfish here’. We need to leave our kids something.”

But Richardson, who is currently representing Australia in the T20 World Cup on home soil, does have some hope for the future.

“There’s good people in place that are trying to help at certain grounds,” he smiles. “I know at Edgbaston there’s no water bottles in the changing room for the players to drink out of, just reusable cups.”

“A lot of the guys I speak to are like, ‘I’d like to go vegan, but I couldn’t cut out fish, or I couldn’t cut out cheese’. And I’m like, ‘you could do that!’. If you want to change certain things, then do that and see how it goes for you.

“Any small change is going to help the animals, the environment – basically everyone in a world that’s going to be more sustainable.”

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