Is your day-to-day diet worth dying over? Would you willingly put yourself into a life-threatening situation just to dispel the long-held assumptions associated with your particular lifestyle?
Mount Everest has claimed the lives of over 280 mountaineers to date, all of whom are known to have died in the pursuit of the near impossible. Of those recorded deaths, you'd be hard pressed to find a single life that wasn't extinguished in the pursuit of a deeply cherished dream or ideal.
The unfortunate death of 34-year-old Maria Strydom is in no way different. The Australian finance lecturer at Monash University and her husband, Robert Gropel, sought to reach the summit of the world in order to achieve a simple goal: "To prove that vegans can do anything and more."
The two made it all the way to the final camp from the summit when they both began to develop altitude sickness. This manifested in the form of a pulmonary edema, which causes fluid to build up in the brain. Strydom's husband survived and was taken to a hospital in Nepal, but two others—in addition to Strydom—died this weekend on Everest as well. About 30 more climbers have become sick, frostbitten, or both near the summit, the Associated Press says.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Robert Gropel's father said, "Physically he's OK, we think. Mentally he is a mess. He's just lost his wife. These guys were not amateurs, they were experienced climbers."
Strydom felt strongly about her mission: "It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak," she told her University's blog. "By climbing the seven summits we want to prove that vegans can do anything and more."
The bottom line is this: Veganism is still stigmatised to this day, but Everest doesn't discriminate. Vegan or otherwise, it may very well get the better of you.