Fueling Olympians: The impact of red meat on performance + celebrating National Lamb Day
Food & Fibre
Food & Fibre

Fueling Olympians: The impact of red meat on performance + celebrating National Lamb Day

Although some recent research may suggest otherwise, red meat has long played an integral part in fueling New Zealand's most elite athletes, including some of our most successful Olympians on their quest for gold. 

Kit Arkwright, the Chief Executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand, joins REX host Dom George to discuss the organisation's exciting partnership with the New Zealand Olympic Committee, designed to power athletes as they prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympics. 

Arkwright sheds light on the nutritional advantages of red meat, explaining, "To get great finishes or great results... it needs to have a good start, and great nutrition has got to be the foundation of a good start." 

The conversation reminisces about the iconic Iron Maiden campaign, which successfully promoted the consumption of red meat among Kiwi Olympians in the past. Arkwright nostalgically recalls, "It was a hugely successful campaign," noting the impact on New Zealand's celebrated athletes like Sarah Ulmer and the Evers-Swindell twins. 

The campaign's legacy continues to underscore the importance of beef and lamb in an athlete's diet, ensuring they don't leave their performance to chance. 

The episode also marks the celebration of National Lamb Day on February 15, shifted to commemorate the departure of the SS Dunedin, which carried the first-ever shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand to London. This historic event laid the foundation for New Zealand's food industry as we know it today. 

"It's just a genuine celebration of all that's good about New Zealand food," Arkwright emphasises. 

Arkwright also addresses the current landscape of nutrition debates, particularly around the environment and the emergence of fake meats. Despite these discussions, he highlights that a vast majority of Kiwis enjoy red meat regularly, echoing the preferences of Olympic athletes who appreciate its taste and the energy it provides. 

"I think the wider thing to say is 92.8% of adult Kiwis eat red meat weekly and the reason they do it is exactly the same reason that the Olympic athletes did it.

"They love the taste, they love how it makes them feel and they love how they feel in their everyday lives, so that's going to be our key message."

Throughout the conversation, the symbiotic relationship between diet and athletic success is a focal point, revealing how New Zealand's cherished red meat industry continues to shape the nation's food culture and support its finest athletes in achieving global triumphs.

Listen to the full chat between Kit Arkwright and Dominic George above.

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