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5 People Who Died Proving Dumb Points

Jun 16, 2023Jun 16, 2023

"It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak," said Australian finance professor Maria Strydom in 2016. "We want to prove that vegans can do anything and more." And so, she and her husband set off to climb Mount Everest. She made it within 15 minutes of the summit. Then altitude sickness kicked in — hard. The husband clambered to the top without her, came down, and they started the remaining descent together. She died on the way down.

Sumita Roy Dutta

The thing is, sure, vegans can summit Mount Everest. Exhibit A: the husband, Robert Gropel, who was also vegan. Or this woman who climbed Everest last year. Or this guy who did it before Strydom died, and who climbed it again one year later. Not to mention an unknown number of vegan sherpas, fortified solely through dal bhat.

But also, a vegan who tries to climb Everest might fail, or might die. Not even because they’re vegan but just because it's Everest. Three other people died climbing Everest the same day as Strydom, for non-vegan reasons, and another three died earlier that month. By telling people she was climbing for veganism, Strydom unwittingly ensured all headlines about her death didn't say "mountaineers tragically die" but "vegan dies from being vegan." And plenty of people left the story more convinced than ever that vegans are made of popsicle sticks.