Mt Everest death “vegan death story viral attacks

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 25th May 2016

Mount EverestThe death of an Australian-based academic who died climbing Mount Everest is being connected to her vegan diet despite there being no evidence this was the cause.

The unsubstantiated linkage comes even though one of the first Australians to reach the Mount Everest summit, Tim Macartney-Snipe, follows a vegetarian diet.

Dr Maria Strydom, who was a lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, was quoted as saying in a Monash University blog post prior to her Everest trek that she wanted to “disprove the myth that vegans are ‘weak'”.

Since her death from suspected altitude sickness whilst descending the mountain, critics of vegan diets went viral on social media with the claim that Dr Strydom’s diet was the cause of her death.

Major news agencies then grabbed the story reporting:

  • “Women trying to prove ‘vegans can do anything’ among four dead on Mount Everest” (Washington Post)

The article mentioned how Strydom and her husband saw climbing the mountain as their “own personal Everest”

  • “Woman trying to prove ‘vegans can do anything’ dies of altitude sickness on Mount Everest” (Time Magazine)

The article discusses how Strydom set out to prove she could scale the mountain while on a vegan diet.

  • “Vegan mountain climber dies on Mount Everest during mission to prove vegans are capable of extreme physical challenges” (The Sun)

The article also used the content of the blog post to inform of Strydom’s intentions to prove vegans can achieve great physical feats.

  • “This Woman’s Vegan Diet May Have Played a Role in Her Death on Mount Everest (Women’s Health)

The blog post asks a doctor if being a vegan could have contributed to Strydom’s death with the doctor talking about the typical deficiencies vegans can lack and how this could have impacted on the mountain.

Criticism of the criticism 

The criticism and articles have however come without any medical diagnosis made between her diet and her death.

Dr Strydom’s husband, Robert Gropel, who is also a vegan, suffered altitude sickness but made it back to Kathmandu Hospital where he has since been released. There has been no medical connection made between his diet and illness.

A Dutch man who was part of the couple’s climbing group also died of altitude sickness whilst descending the summit. Details of his diet is not known.

An Indian man in separate group also died due to altitude sickness on Sunday, but no details of his diet is known.

Tim Macartney-Snipe was also in the first group of Australians to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In an Australian magazine article he said the body did not digest meat very well at higher altitudes and that it was hard to take meat with you when climbing.