Vegans conquer the South Pole

| 10 July 2023
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Three vegan adventurers have completed an incredible unsupported trip to Antarctica.

Jens Neumann, Alexandra Guryeva and Stefan Prucker completed an incredible unsupported trek across Antarctica in January 2023.

The Austrian trio of intrepid adventurers spent 50 days trekking 880 kilometres, each pulling their own 100 kilogram sled loaded with all their gear and vegan food.

The 880 km route had never been trodden before so they have opened a new route to the South Pole.

“In the last 15 years we have done numerous treks and expeditions all over the world. Especially in India, Tibet, Nepal, South America” says Jens Neumann. Jens is a trainer and business consultant. Also a ski instructor and trekking guide, he takes outdoor team building exercises that are as fun as they are effective.

“Alexandra and I have also been on the Patagonian Ice Field and in 2014 we successfully climbed the highest mountain in Antarctica, Mount Vinson.” At 4,892m, Vinson is one of the infamous Seven Summits.

They were struck by the expanse and loneliness of Antarctica, and the view from the peak called them back for a longer challenge.

“I know that expeditions like this can be a unique opportunity to get to know yourself and your limits” added Stefan, a senior manager in healthcare. “Such an opportunity does not come along often in life. Sometimes you have to accept great challenges in order to recognise your weaknesses and fears, overcome them and learn from them in order to take a step forward.”

Preparation for the extreme challenge meant getting into shape for long days of trekking with a sled.

“We completed a quite sophisticated and intense mix of gym work outs, interval and cardiovascular training” Jens explains. “A balanced mix to train power and endurance. Besides that, we did mountaineering, long distance treks with heavy backpacks, distance-trail running, as well as pulling old car tires (which is an established “classic” for polar sled pulling training). We did the same with bags full of sand. All that was part of our physical training.”


Fuelling the plant-powered engine

Sourcing food was a challenge, as they planned 5000 Kcal per day each. The food they sourced was sugar-free and organic where possible. They used LYO expedition food, and bars and cookies from Lifefood.

They filled up on a breakfast of hot chocolate and coconut milk powder and muesli with oats, nuts, dried fruit, coconut far and date sweetener.

Lunch was typically noodles in miso soup, cookies and nuts. For dinner they would have Miso soup, and vegan freeze-dried food such as lentils, chickpeas and curries. There was also olive oil and powdered seeds to provide the protein and fat.

Throughout the day they ate raw quality snack bars, chocolate and cashew cookies.


Team vegan

Alexandra has been vegan for five years. She stopped eating meat 30 years ago and her diet has evolved in stages. She’s a psychologist and has worked with athletes in preparation for the Olympics.

“Each change in my diet has been for health reasons. When I started eating purely vegan, I gained more stamina and ease in my life. I solved many health issues due to the change to a vegan diet. The ethical aspects came later. Now they come first. So I eat strictly vegan but also avoid sugar, flour- and wheat products, gluten and coffee. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and my diet consists of 80% raw food.”

Jens has also been vegan for five years, and stopped eating meat 25 years ago when his girlfriend was vegetarian and skilled in the kitchen:

“The philosophy behind eating vegan became more important to me as well. Today I eat vegan for all reasons you can think of: For the sake of the animals, for the sake of the whole environment, and of course for the health of my body.”

Stefan and his wife stopped eating meat 20 years ago. He also made changes in stages and has been vegan for five years:

“The reasons for the change were originally primarily health-related. After only a few months on a vegan diet, I could already tell from my body that I felt much better and healthier. Later, the motivation included other reasons such as the environment or ethics. In other areas, I regularly look into the possibilities of using only vegan products and try to leave out more and more animal products.”

Content sourced and adapted with permission from Great Vegan Athletes.

About the author
Nicholas Hallows
Nicholas has been vegan since the early 2000s and worked for Viva! between 2017 and 2020 as a Senior Administrator and Web Content Assistant. He is a qualified teacher, specialising in Language and Literacy, and an accredited Proofreader and Editor. He is now a freelance writer covering topics including veganism, mindfulness and minimalism.

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