The Vegan Runner
Olude was born in London to a West African family and running came easily. He returned to Nigeria when he was 9 and experienced somewhat of a culture clash. He says, “It was a different society, and you don’t know who you are.”
Upon returning to England, he studied computer science and resumed playing soccer, which he learned as a child. “I was a good soccer player, but I was depressed and didn’t have a good attitude. Nothing much was happening,” he says. Olude attended Colorado Christian University in 1998 on a soccer scholarship and then moved to Atlanta.
“I went out running with a friend of mine—he was 64 years old and I was 32—and he ran me into the ground. I had been told not to eat meat any more, because after I had my appendix out, they said I cannot digest meat properly. And for me, coming from a culture that eats meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, that was kind of weird.”
Olude’s diet wasn’t the only thing that was changing. “I was somebody who was extremely depressed and I had this stomach pain that would come over me. It was the worst pain I had in my life. The doctors had me taking pills, but that was not good for me. So I decided to stop absorbing toxins and being depressed,” he says.
“I wanted to study yoga and become a vegan because I do not like what the animals have to go through. When it’s time for them to be killed, you can see the sadness in their face. When I was a kid, I would cry because we would kill that animal and then start eating it an hour later. I thought that was really mean,” he says.
“I weaned myself out of the meat and just when that happened, I started running. I started to run 26 miles every Saturday, studied philosophy and began practicing Buddhism. I read the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita and studied with monks. I started a running log, and I probably did that for the past 10 years.”
Olude is not allowed to work in the U.S. “As for my immigration status, I am still waiting for my paperwork; they said I just have to wait my turn. So I ended up in a homeless shelter.” This is perhaps the most amazing part of his story. “Going into the shelter is the best thing that has ever happened to me, because I got to see life in a different way,” says Olude. “I got to understand what all the Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and religions are talking about. Happiness doesn’t depend on material wealth. And for me to be in a shelter and still be happy and be able to function makes me believe there is more to being vegan than meditation.”
Now 44 years old, Olude uses the example of his own path to enlighten others. “I don’t have any money coming in, but I get up every single day and run. In the Gateway shelter they call me the ‘running man.’ I run all over Atlanta, and when people ask me about my diet and I say vegan, it blows them away. And they become more interested.”
Olude raises money for charities through the Back on My Feet nonprofit organization and others, but that is not his sole focus. “I have this dream, because every morning I feel real positive. I am not allowed to feel negative. People are beginning to become curious and ask me what I eat all the time. For example, I use a blog called Daily Miles [DailyMile.com] online and I read and write about my journey every day.”
Olude uses social media as a tool to spread his message. To stay posted on his activities, visit Facebook.com/ade.olude.
Martin Miron is the editor of Natural Awakenings Atlanta.