Hide your steaks – vegan devotee and campaigner Peter Ebdon has finally joined Twitter and it is clear he will be using the social media forum to give those views a wider audience.

Former world champion Ebdon can certainly never be accused of being a snooker bandwagon-jumper when it comes to healthy living and taking his food intake seriously.

The death of his father from lung cancer several years ago drove the London-born player to examine all aspects of food and possible ways of staving off that terrible disease.

This has not been without its controversial moments, notably at the 2012 World Championship when Ebdon wore a logo promoting the Gerson Therapy. Critics refute this alternative theory - that cancer is better treated by organic fruit and vegetables than conventional drug treatments.

But on the more general and less contentious point, of looking after yourself, and making dietary changes to feel better and more healthy to be more alert and perform at a higher level, Ebdon, now 45, was ahead of the game within the snooker fraternity.

International travel and late matches certainly make healthy living more of a challenge, but increasing numbers of players are coming around to the idea that in a highly competitive sport where small margins and extra edges matter, they need to feel as energised as possible.

After speaking to Ebdon another former world champion Neil Robertson moved to a plant-based diet, and other players who have made their diet and health a bigger priority include Michael Holt, Ali Carter, Mark Williams, Mark King, Liam Highfield and Matt Selt.

The now-banned Stephen Lee was once sounded out by Ebdon on the subject of a vegan diet, and it was claimed Lee’s first question was ‘Can I still smoke?’

Chinese customs have had cause to tackle Ebdon in the past, on at least one occasion taking exception to a stash of organic bananas he was attempting to ‘import’ for his own use during a tournament. And litres of organic carrot juice have been consumed in Crucible dressing rooms and elsewhere on the circuit.

Alongside the more serious aspects, principally overall health and then competing at the highest level, Ebdon’s presence and views have already triggered some largely good-natured banter on Twitter, featuring exchanges such as the following:

Michael Holt: “Vegans remind me of religious extremists. They "preach" their way of life and judge those that don't agree. We don't care.”

Peter Ebdon: “But it's still your choice. Could you actually physically kill the animals that you eat?”

MH: “[I] choose to eat meat. Not because I'm any less read on the subject than the militant vegans. Just my choice – but I still love you Peter!”

PE: “I believe that consuming animal products directly causes immense pain and torture and is incredibly destructive.”

Marcus Campbell: “I think I will go for a lunchtime lamb bhoona.”

PE: “What’s wrong with a nice sag aloo and chana massala, with coconut rice, Marcus?”

You sense there is plenty more mileage in this one yet.

If dietary debate is your thing, Ebdon could be well worth a follow at @pdebdon for discussions both serious and more light-hearted.

Who knows, under sufficient pressure current World Championship sponsors Betfred may be forced to throw out the crisps and peanuts and restock the Crucible players’ room with organic figs. It may even catch on in the media centre one day...


Photograph courtesy of Monique Limbos