When you hear about a Vegan diet what do you think of? Most people believe that all Vegans consume is just vegetables and therefore are somewhat at a disadvantage because they don’t follow a so called “Normal Diet”. However, an increasing number of athletes and sports stars are turning Vegan to gain an extra edge in their sports.

What is a Vegan diet?

A Vegan diet is made up of Vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, grains and any food made from plants. A Vegan Diet excludes eating any animals and their produce such as eggs or milk.

How many Vegan footballers are there?

So Far there are 5 Vegan players in the Premier League. These include stars such as Fabian Delph, Hector Bellerin, Chris Smalling, Jack Wilshere and Jermain Defoe. Other players outside the Premier League include Colombian international Sebastian Perez and former Derby County winger Russell Martin. Additionally, stars such as Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams have also turned to Veganism.

So why are footballers and other athletes turning to a Vegan Diet?

Arsenal’s Spanish right-back Hector Bellerin has claimed that the vegan diet “ Helps with inflammation and recovery after games”. The Spanish international has also claimed that it has helped with ongoing ankle issues and has said, “ I no longer have to strap them up before games.”

Chris Smalling has also reinforced Bellerin’s point by stating that “You’re never going to be bulletproof, but if you’re feeding yourself good food and making sure you’re eating the right supplements, I think you reduce the chances of getting any niggling injuries. Touch wood, I’ve not had any major problems since then and hopefully, I can keep fit and play as many games as I can.” Last season Smalling went onto play over 50 games for the first time in his career and claimed that the Vegan diet played a huge role in helping him to reach the Milestone.

So are there any real Health Benefits to a Vegan diet?

Yes! Vegan diets have multiple health benefits that don’t just affect athletes but can also help regular people. For example, studies have shown that a Vegan diet has a direct link with the lowering chance of heart disease. For example, Vegans are 42% less likely to die of a heart-related disease that a “normal diet”. Vegans are also 50-78% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. There are multiple other benefits of the lifestyle which can all be found online.

Could a vegan diet be the next competitive edge in football?

YES! If players ultimately feel better in their mind and body, performance levels will go up. Jim Taylor PhD stated that two key things a human must feel to perform are, number one, physical feelings (feeling physically ready to perform) and two, emotionally ready to perform. Arguably, a vegan diet can offer these qualities for Athletes with both Smalling and Bellerin not only feeling physically better but also claiming to feel more “positive” on a vegan diet.

Furthermore, if players are less likely to sustain injuries and recover quicker it means that the best players can stay match fit for longer and ultimately contribute more to the team over the season,  potentially helping the team gain more points.

With a 350% increase in Vegans in the UK alone last year could more clubs and players be ditching the meat to gain that competitive advantage?

Written By Tom Langford

Twitter @tom_langford27


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