Olympic medallist Victoria Pendleton on adopting animals and going vegan for the environment

The former Olympic cycling champion tells Tempus about her commitment to green living as we raise funds in aid of WWF

Victoria Pendleton CBE is best known as a former Olympic Cyclist who dominated the London 2012 Games, but now she's going for gold for our environment by helping Tempus support the WWF at our very first Earth Conservation Gala on Thursday 31 May, at which we raised £100,000. The star, who retired from cycling and has since become a jockey, believes that little changes in individual's lives can have a lasting impact on the battle against climate change.

"WWF is a charity I've supported myself. I've actually adopted a few animals along the way. I've got a polar bear and a tiger – and the cuddly toys to prove it!" Pendleton told Tempus at The Dorchester. "A lot of people aren't that concerned about [climate change] when they really should be. A lot of people hear the information but don't really take it on board that once a species is gone, that's it.

"I try to do as much as I can. I recycle everything in my home, I have a compost heap at home as well, I choose to pay for green and renewable energy sources and support charities that basically are taking care of the planet." >>

Related: WWF's Tony Juniper on how we can help the fight against climate change

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* Victoria Pendleton attends the Tempus Earth Conservation Gala [© JamesRobinsonPhotography for Tempus]

Pendleton also says she has made drastic changes in her diet due to the impact that factory farming has on the environment. "I've also gone vegan, because of the carbon footprint and impact on the environment. So, for me it's something that's very real. And like so many things in life – like training, like everything – every little tiny bit we do counts."

Pendleton, who is a member of the European Cycling Union Hall of Fame, attempted to climb Mt Everest in as part of a celebrity expedition led by Ben Fogle in May, however she had to pull out of the climb after suffering the effects of hypoxia – or oxygen deprivation – due to the altitude.

"I'm very lucky to have been offered some incredible experiences and attempting to climb Mt Everest is something I'll never forget," she said. "It's also breathtakingly beautiful and something that needs protecting."

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* Victoria Pendleton attends the Tempus Earth Conservation Gala [© JamesRobinsonPhotography for Tempus]

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