Lewis Hamilton has responded to criticism over social media posts asking people to consider veganism to help the environment, saying he should not be “afraid to speak out about things that can be for a positive change.”

Hamilton took to Instagram last week to ask his followers to consider a switch to a vegan diet, calling it “the only way to truly save our planet today”.

The Mercedes driver faced a backlash over the posts, with many citing the environmental impact of a global sport such as Formula 1 as giving a level of hypocrisy to Hamilton’s comments.

Speaking on Thursday ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, Hamilton recognised and responded to the criticism by defending his free use of his social media accounts, and explained that he was looking to educate people on positive change to help the environment.

“Lots of people have had opinions about how I utilise social media, but ultimately it’s my platform. We all have a voice, everyone here and around the world - i’s how you choose to and how you want to use it,” Hamilton said.

“It’s not the easiest because yes we are travelling around the world, we are racing Formula 1 cars. Our carbon footprint for sure is higher than the average homeowner who lives in the same city. But it doesn’t meant you should be afraid to speak out about things that can be for a positive change.

“I’m always looking at things and how I can improve the effect that I’m having on the world. It’s something that I guess over time I’ve become more and more aware of. It takes a while. It’s not a quick fix thing, it takes time to understand the implications.

“I think it’s just about education, and I’m just trying to highlight areas. Whether people choose to look into those, that’s up to them, but I’d feel like I wasn’t doing anything positive if I didn’t mention it.”

Hamilton said in one post that he felt like “giving up on everything”, but explained that he wanted to convey to fans that even a celebrity of his profile could still have down days.

“A lot of people don’t realise that they’re also humans and they also have feelings and they have the ups and downs,” Hamilton said.

“It was not the best feeling of the moment, but I’ve got great people around me. I’ve had a lot of support from fans. I’ve had a lot of support from my family. There’s a lot going on in my life at the moment.

“Anyway, coming into this weekend, I feel very positive, back to doing what I love doing.”

Asked to expand on other steps he was taking to help the environment besides his plant-based diet, Hamilton revealed he was hoping to become carbon-neutral by the end of the year.

“I’m trying to make sure that by the end of the year I’m carbon neutral,” he said.

“I don’t allow anyone in my office, but also within my household to buy any plastics, I want everything recyclable, down to deodorant, down to toothbrush, all these kind of things. I’m trying to make as much change as I can in my personal space.

“I sold my plane over a year ago. I fly a lot less now. I’m trying to fly less through the year, I’m mostly flying commercial, so that’s been a big change in my habits. I’ve avoided trips as well if I didn’t need to do it, just been in the UK for example with family and going up to Bedfordshire and stayed at the house with the family instead of going on holiday.

“I have my new smart electric [car] at home. I’ve sold several of my cars. Some of them I don’t want to sell because I love them and I’ve worked hard for them, and I don’t drive them a lot if I’m really honest.

“I have three Mercedes in the States for example, send them back and get EQCs. I have a Maybach in London for example, I’m looking to switch that. I think they’re bringing a hybrid out at the end of next year for the Maybach, because I love the Maybach. However right now that doesn’t really suit what I’m fighting for, so I need to change that either for an EQC or one of the hybrids they have.

“I’m constantly making changes. It’s not a quick fix, it’s not something you do over a short period of time. But I feel positive that I’m making those changes, and I’m encouraging people around me also.”

 

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