Green-Sports and the Olympics

‘Eat Like An Olympian’ Campaign Encourages Dairy-Free, Plant-Based Diet

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Nonprofit Switch4Good promotes the benefits of a dairy-free diet, from enhanced athletic performance to reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The organization is about to launch Eat Like An Olympian, an interactive fan-engagement campaign on Instagram and Facebook that will run concurrently with the Tokyo Olympics from July 23 through August 8.

Founder Dotsie Bausch, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist in pursuit cycling for the USA and an EcoAthletes Champion, shared the Switch4Good story and offered a preview of the Eat Like An Olympian challenge.    

 

Dotsie Bausch was frustrated that the omnipresent Got Milk? campaign was going to hammer U.S. viewers of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with ads that implied that one needs to drink milk to become an Olympian. So, the dairy-free 2012 Olympic pursuit cycling silver medalist and EcoAthletes Champion decided to do something.

 

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Dotsie Bausch on her way to a silver medal at London 2012 (Photo credit: Casey Gibson)

 

That something was to launch Switch4Good.

The nascent nonprofit made a big viral media splash when it produced an ad that tweaked the ever-present Got Milk? spots by featuring dairy-free athletes who were also successful Olympians. It ran only once on NBC Sports during those 2018 Winter Games before the milk industry group that funds the Got Milk? ads forced the network to take the Switch4Good ad down. But that only fueled Bausch’s drive to combat the dairy industry.

And so, what Bausch intended to be a one-off, David-esque project funded by private donations to combat the Goliath dairy industry, turned into a nonprofit.

 

 

For an encore, Bausch and her small team at Switch4Good developed a PSA campaign for Tokyo 2020. And even though the Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Switch4Good went ahead with the effort in a strategic fashion.

“We ran the ‘Milk Does A Body Bad’ PSA campaign from July to September 2020,” shared Bausch, one of the stars of “The Game Changers” movie about elite plant-based and dairy-free athletes. “Our goal was to pique curiosity about the benefits of a dairy-free diet among sports fans as well as audiences younger than those who typically watch the Olympics — and to get them to visit our website to get more information.”

 

 

The PSA ran in five TV markets, including the influential New York City and Washington, DC metro areas, as well as in seven radio and two streaming markets.

“Our media team did a phenomenal job, especially on the radio side,” enthused Bausch. “We found top DJs — Jeff St. Pierre on WPOC in Baltimore and Kelsey Webb on WNCI in Columbus — who happen to be dairy-free and/or plant based and ran the spots with them. Because of their authentic interest and passion, the interviews with Jeff and Kelsey really deepened the messaging. It was great!”

That’s not hyperbole: Switch4Good reached 30 million people with “Milk Does A Body Bad.”

 

EAT LIKE AN OLYMPIAN: A TWO-WEEK ONLINE DAIRY-FREE CONTENT FEST

With the Tokyo Olympic flame about to be lit, now a year late, Bausch has pivoted from a largely traditional media approach (ads and PSAs) to a deeper, more interactive course of action with Eat Like An Olympian.

Per Bausch, fun will be a hallmark of the program: “We’re going to be live on Instagram from the opening to the closing ceremonies. The centerpiece will be a 5×5 Bingo-style board that will feature engaging challenges and games with gold, silver, and bronze-level prizes.”

 

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Dotsie Bausch (Photo credit: Dotsie Bausch)

 

Challenges include asking participants to try new dairy-free recipes, cheer on dairy-free Olympians as they compete, and to get active.

Beyond the fun and games, Eat Like An Olympian will offer:

  • A look at what dairy-free and/or plant-based Olympians eat before and after their events
  • Nutrition and performance tips
  • Dairy-free recipes and cooking demonstrations

A world class squad of plant-based and/or dairy-free Olympians have joined Bausch in the Eat Like An Olympian effort.

“You’ll see our great team of Olympians throughout the two weeks,” Bausch noted. “They include soccer players Alex Morgan and Ali Riley, BMX cyclist Perris Benegas, and indoor volleyballers Dustin Watten and Rachel Adams. Riley, who’s from New Zealand, has a popular cooking show on YouTube, so she’s perfect for this initiative. Retired Olympians like soccer player Heather Mitts are also pitching in.”

 

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Dustin Watten (Photo credit: USA Volleyball)

 

 

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New Zealand's Ali Riley at the Tokyo Athletes' Village on Tuesday (Photo credit: Twitter)

 

While nutrition and athletic performance will be the prime focus of Eat Like An Olympian, a climate discussion will also be integrated into the campaign.

“We make the ‘climate connection’ with some of our content,” offered Bausch. “In particular, we will provide information on the contributions dairy and meat make in terms of carbon emissions.”

 

GSB’s Take: COVID-19 will be, MUST be the main off-field story at the Tokyo Olympics. But it won’t be the only one.

The increasing number of plant-based and dairy-free athletes who find success in Olympic sports and beyond are certainly worthy of attention. Efforts like Switch4Good’s ‘Eat Like An Olympian’ campaign will help generate interest and hopefully, change behaviors.

Making the link between reduced consumption of meat and dairy products, improved health and athletic performance, and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is also crucial. Doing so through a fun, interactive program like Eat Like An Olympian hopefully will lead more people to change their diets. 

 


 

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