Green Shoots: Harrogate Town’s vegan footballer who is passionate about environment
Last updated Jan 22, 2022

Harrogate Town midfielder George Thomson is part of a growing cohort of professional footballers who are vegan and passionate about the environment.

Fan favourite Thomson joined Town in 2017. He’s played more than 160 matches and been a key cog in Simon Weaver’s history-making side that was promoted to the English Football League for the first time in the club’s 100-year existence. Town are at home to Oldham this afternoon.

Players including Manchester City legend Sergio Aguero and England player Jesse Lingard have gone vegan for health reasons but Thomson told the Stray Ferret his conscience couldn’t allow him to continue eating meat. He made the switch five years ago.

He said:

“Agriculture is one of the main contributors to global warming, it gives off a high percentage of greenhouse gases. It’s known to contribute more than even cars.” 

Thompson was shocked after watching the Netflix documentary Cowspiracy, which exposed the impact of meat on climate change, water use, deforestation and ocean dead zones.

He also said that ethically he could no longer eat meat due to the suffering caused to animals.

He added:

“I saw what happens and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I didn’t want that on my conscience.

“There’s so much information now so I did lots of research.” 

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Thomson, who is known as one of the fittest players in Town’s squad, said it’s a misconception that becoming vegan will result in a lack of protein.

“I wasn’t going to be deficient in something that would affect my job. What stuck with me, no vegan player has been to a doctor with a protein deficiency. There’s protein in every single food. We eat a lot of beans and lentils that are high in protein. It’s like anything, you get used to it and it becomes easy.”

He’s not the only vegan at the club: midfielder Alex Pattison also recently made the switch, although Thomson said they face some friendly banter from the meat-eaters in the dressing room.

‘Something I believe in’

Forest Green Rovers, who play in League Two alongside Harrogate, have been described by FIFA as the “greenest club in the world” and they’ve even been recognised by the UN for their eco-credentials.

Only vegan meals are served at their ground, which is powered by 100% renewable energy and includes electric vehicle charging points.

Thomson, who cycles to training, said he supported the club’s model:

“It’s a great concept what they’ve done at Forest Green, even the kit is made of recycled plastic.

“The environment is a massive topic at the minute, everyone is beginning to be more conscious about their carbon footprint. For me, being vegan helps massively and you have the health benefits on top. I’d support what they’ve done there massively, it’s something I believe in”.

And with vegans options now much more mainstream, he said he doesn’t have to miss out on a celebratory pizza with teammates after a match thanks to Dominos’ vegan option.