NFL Players Going Vegan To Boost Performance

by | September 10, 2018

When you think of what NFL players eat, you might imagine hulking athletes tearing into juicy steaks and scarfing fattening food. Perhaps it’s not so far from the truth: ESPN recently reported it takes nearly 600 pounds of beef to feed the Buffalo Bills for a week, and that’s not even counting chicken (700 pounds) and fish.

And who can forget that hot dog-and-Cheetos dinner Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey once tweeted?

However, for an increasing number of players, that’s changing according to CNBC.

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NFL Players Boost Performance With Vegan Diet 

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is still playing at 41 and said Wednesday he’d like to keep going until he’s 45, according to Yahoo Sports. Part of his success at an age by which most football players have retired is due to his healthy habits  that boost performance and others in the league have taken notice. As the Boston Globe pointed out: “It’s a movement being led by Tom Brady, who dominated the league in his late 30s and is still going strong … thanks to his vegetable-based diet and flexibility training over muscle mass.”

And it’s not just Tom Brady, at least fifteen members of the Tenessee Titans have become vegan this year alone as reported by ESPN to boost performance. It’s not a surprising move, considering that eleven of the players made the switch in 2017, and for the first time in ten years, the team qualified for the playoffs. 

The Titans players are convinced a plant-based diet “helps them lose weight, recover faster and, believe it or not, play better,” according to ESPN.

In the NFL, former lineman David Carter was one of the first to go vegan in 2014 while he was still playing. Now, he’s an advocate for plant-based diets, going by the nickname, The 300 lb. Vegan. Carter, 30, says the reason for his switch in diet stemmed from health concerns.

“I was young, 22, 23, dealing with old-man illnesses at a really young age,” Carter tells CNBC Make It. “I was playing a professional sport where you’re supposed to be touted as one of the strongest guys, the world’s top athletes and all this, but [I was] taking high blood pressure medication…painkillers, anti-inflammatories….a long list.”

Do We Have a Vegan Future in Store?

With the benefits of a vegan diet starting to catch on, schools are starting to switch their menus. Such as one advocate, Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams, who was on the cover of Raise Vegan Magazine for September. Who is leading an effort to offer healthy meals to the kids attending the public schools in Brooklyn public schools. 

Adams switched to a plant-based diet after his own experience with type-2 diabetes. Since making the transition, he has become an outspoken advocate for the plant-based diet alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Adams showed his support for the Meatless Monday initiative stating that the program has the power to “transform the health of thousands of our city’s students, as well as open the door to a powerful conversation that children can have with families on nutrition and wellness.”

In the United Kingdom also, the Vegan Society is demanding that more plant-based options be available in the public sector.

“By public sector canteens, we mean places like hospitals, schools, prisons, universities, workplaces etc. Basically anywhere where you go not out of choice, but because you have to eat.” A spokesperson for the Vegan Society, Dominika Piasecka, explained. “Veganism is protected under human rights and equality law, meaning vegans have the right to suitable, animal-free catering in public sector settings. It’s important to remember a vegan food option isn’t just for vegans – it often constitutes a safe dietary choice for everyone. We encourage people to get in touch with their local council, asking them to influence procurement across the public sector.”

The United States and the United Kingdom are not the only countries interested in shifting toward healthier food options.

Rio De Janeiro announced a partnership with the Humane Society International (HSI) in early 2018 with the goal to help four cities adopt plant-based meal programs in their schools. The move affects 23 million meals served annually

“Providing our school districts with plant-based meals will help save environmental and public financial resources, allow for a future of healthy adults, and build a fair world for the animals,” Leticia Baird, Brazilian public prosecutor for the environment in the state of Bahia, said in a statement.

Sandra Lopes, the food policy manager for HSI in Brazil, added: “We applaud the cities of Serrinha, Barroca, Teofilandia, and Biritinga for becoming the world’s first school districts to commit to going 100 percent plant-based. It’s an honor to have worked with city authorities, nutritionists and school cook on the adoption and implementation of this initiative, and we’re excited to continue working closely with them to ensure the success of this program.

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CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

With the overwhelming evidence to the health benefits of a plant-based diet, it is no wonder that the NFL players are realizing that to boost performance, they need to be healthier, and the way to do that is by being vegan. 

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