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Dale Vince, Joe Cole, Robbie Savage and Levi Roots launch Wembley veggie cook-off

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Forest Green chairman Dale Vince and former England midfielder Joe Cole took on former Wales international Robbie Savage and chef Levi Roots in a ‘Ready Veggie Cook-off’ challenge on the steps of Wembley Stadium, to mark the start of this year’s Green Football Weekend campaign. 

The teams, compered by presenter Lynsey Hipgrave, whipped up some delicious veggie recipes from the new Green Football Weekend Veggie Cookbook, which were then tested by some hungry local school children.

230118 GFW 3205 | Dale Vince, Joe Cole, Robbie Savage and Levi Roots launch Wembley veggie cook-off
Green Football Weekend 2024 launches at Wembley stadium. Dale Vince with the Green Football Weekend Cup.

More than 70 football players, celebrity chefs, club nutritionists, managers and football-loving personalities have shared their favourite veggie recipes for the free online cookbook. The launch also marks the start of the Green Football Cup, where fans can score goals to help their club triumph at greenfootballweekend.com by taking climate-friendly actions . 

With tons of recipes inspiring fans to try a tasty veggie option, highlights of the cookbook include Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling’s cauliflower, potato and spinach curry; Tottenham Hotspur Amy Turner’s roasted red pepper soup, and Arsenal Women’s Jen Beattie’s Thai Green Tofu Curry. Famous football-loving chefs like Manchester United fan Michel Roux Jr and Arsenal supporter Ainsley Harriot have also shared their go-to recipes.

230118 GFW 3198 | Dale Vince, Joe Cole, Robbie Savage and Levi Roots launch Wembley veggie cook-off
Green Football Weekend 2024 launches at Wembley stadium. Dale Vince with the Green Football Weekend Cup.

The world’s largest climate-football campaign, which culminates on 2-5th February with Green Football Weekend itself, mobilises fans, clubs, leagues, and partners to take action on climate. The campaign will focus on the power of veg to help protect our world; encouraging fans to try cooking a veggie meal and working with clubs and caterers to put on delicious veggie and plant-based food for matchday fans. If the UK’s football fans had one veggie meal a day, we could save the equivalent to removing 5.5M cars from the road each year.

230118 GFW 3193 | Dale Vince, Joe Cole, Robbie Savage and Levi Roots launch Wembley veggie cook-off
Green Football Weekend 2024 launches at Wembley stadium. Dale Vince enjoys the Devil’s Kitchen shiitake mushroom burger that’s served every weekend at Forest Green Rovers.

Dale Vince OBE, Ecotricity founder, said: “It’s simple – football is a big cultural force. It’s the biggest sport in the world reaching billions of passionate fans. If we can harness some of that passion and point it towards the environment, we can create change on an incredible scale. I’ve seen it work at FGR where our fans have embraced the green agenda of the club.”

Joe Cole, former England star and TNT Sports pundit, said: “I got a real kick out of helping Dale Vince serve up his veggie dish in the challenge today, a very different experience to the cup finals and internationals I’ve played at Wembley. Trying a veggie option is such a great way to help protect our world, and the Green Football Weekend cookbook has plenty of recipes to try. The climate is a topic everyone in football needs to think about. Collectively we have the opportunity to make real change.”

230118 GFW 3018 | Dale Vince, Joe Cole, Robbie Savage and Levi Roots launch Wembley veggie cook-off
Green Football Weekend 2024 launches at Wembley stadium. Robbie Savage, Joe Cole, Lynsey Hipgrave, Dale Vince and chefs Levi Roots and Alfie Steiner, and 14 school children, take part in a 20-minute ‘Ready, Veggie, Cook’ event.

Levi Roots said:  “I am so delighted to have contributed my Sunny Veggie Pattie recipes to the Green Football Weekend Cookbook. We need to do as much as we possibly can to protect this precious planet of ours. I have a young son and I want him to grow up in a world that is not facing disastrous climate change. That’s why I am so delighted to have contributed to the campaign. I want to show even the biggest of doubters that taking the green option can be fantastically tasty, full of flavour, and extremely healthy too!”

Robbie Savage, former Wales international and TNT Sports pundit, said: “I have seen first-hand the impact the climate is having on the lower leagues of football and together we have to tackle this issue before it is too late. It was great to take on Joe in the Green Football Weekend ‘Ready Veggie Cook-Off Challenge’ and the food was superb, so if football fans try one veggie option on Green Football Weekend we can make a real difference.”

230118 GFW 3402 | Dale Vince, Joe Cole, Robbie Savage and Levi Roots launch Wembley veggie cook-off
Green Football Weekend 2024 launches at Wembley stadium. Joe Cole, Dale Vince and Lynsey Hipgrave prepare for a 20-minute ‘Ready, Veggie, Cook’ event with chefs Levi Roots and Alfie Steiner, and 14 school children.

TNT Sports presenter, Lynsey Hipgrave said: “Football is so important in my life, and to so many others up and down the country. We have an opportunity as fans to come together to protect the future of the beautiful game. I am proud to support Green Football Weekend and urge fans to get involved – whether it’s by trying a veggie option, travelling around greener or switching to a green energy provider.  Acting together is how we’re going to make sure the next generation of fans can enjoy the game we love.”

Many famous past and present football stars are also supporting Green Football Weekend.

Gary Lineker, Green Football Weekend Ambassador, said: “I am proud to kickstart the second year of Green Football Weekend to mobilise millions of fans and over 80 clubs to protect what we love. Football has the unbelievable power to unite everyone – clubs, players, and fans from across the community with a common goal to take action. Trying a healthy veggie option over Green Football Weekend is a simple step towards a healthier lifestyle and a healthier planet. “

230118 GFW 2890 | Dale Vince, Joe Cole, Robbie Savage and Levi Roots launch Wembley veggie cook-off
Green Football Weekend 2024 launches at Wembley stadium. Dale Vince and Robbie Savage.

Mathieu Flamini, football legend, environmental entrepreneur, and Green Football Weekend Ambassador, said: “Performance needs a lot of discipline and hard work. In order to perform at my best, and have the most efficient recovery, I decided to become a vegetarian a long time ago. Your health is the most important thing you have. By giving a veggie option a go, you’re helping to take care of it, and by helping yourself, you are helping to protect the planet. If the UK’s football fans had one veggie meal a day, we could save the equivalent to removing 5.5M cars from the road each year”.

Jen Beattie MBE, player for Arsenal WSL and contributor to the Cookbook said:  “One of my favourites in the Veggie Cookbook is the Thai Green Curry. You can pack it with whatever veg you fancy, and the spices give it that extra kick. After a tough training session in winter, I always crave something warm and filling and this hits the spot every time. I hope the fans give it a go and download the Green Football Weekend cookbook to help Arsenal win green goals towards the Green Football Cup.”

By trying a recipe from the Cookbook, fans can register a goal for their club in the Green Football Cup at www.greenfootballweekend.com, where more than 80 of the top professional clubs are vying for the title. Other goal-scoring activities will include saving cash by choosing discounted ‘yellow-sticker’ food at the supermarket, having fun with the Green Football Weekend AI-recipe generator to decide your next veggie meal, switching to a green energy provider; walking, biking, or taking public transport rather than driving; and recruiting friends and family to get involved. 

The future of football is at risk due to the effects of climate change, with 150,000 games already cancelled per year due to pitch flooding. By 2050, a quarter of UK football grounds will be flooded, with one in four teams expecting partial or total stadium flooding each year.

Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, BOSH!, said: “Football holds a profound place in modern culture – it’s the ideal stage to talk about climate change and the vital role we can all play. As passionate football fans ourselves, our business revolves around guiding individuals towards eco-conscious food choices. We’re immensely proud to be ambassadors of Green Football Weekend.”

On 2-5th February itself, clubs will take centre stage as part of Green Football Weekend, taking part in greener games to showcase their sustainability work, engaging fans in the issue and announcing new, more ambitious commitments. Broadcast giants Sky Sports and TNT Sports will also deliver a Green Football Weekend extravaganza, packed with original content. 

Sarah Jacobs, Green Football Weekend Director, said: “Green Football Weekend is fan action at its most powerful, and brings clubs together to take increasingly ambitious action on climate. Football has incredible power to inspire change and improve lives, and that’s what this campaign is all about.

Green Football Weekend is powered by Ecotricity, in partnership with Devils Kitchen, Ministry of Eco-Education, Little Green Devils, Forest Green Rovers, and FGR Community, BOSH!, exceptional and the Gusto Group, and is supported by the EFL, WSL, the PFA and the FA.

It is driven by Sky Sports, TNT Sports, The Football Supporters Association, Count Us In, Pledgeball and Planet League, and supported by partners including Compass Levy, Sodexo, Delaware North, The Vegetarian Society, Football For Future, Humane Society International, Veganuary, Keele University, Veg Power, Sokito, Football Manager, Opta and First News. 

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