Photo: History of Football
Eating vegan is good for animals, the environment and human health. In fact, many athletes and scientists alike say that switching to a plant-based diet boosts performance, recovery, and energy.
With all the evidence supporting the positive effects of a plant-based diet on athletic performance, it’s no wonder that some of the best football players are turning to a vegetarian diet to help improve their game.
Here are six football players who started their workouts with a plant-based diet:
Hector Bellerin is a right-back and wing-back, and after playing for Arsenal for a few years, he now plays for FC Barcelona and the Spain national football team. He started going vegetarian in 2017 to improve his health and performance and soon learned about other benefits of a plant-based diet.
“Environmental sustainability and animal cruelty now inspire me as much as health. The way I feel physically and mentally, knowing I’m doing the right things, I’m really happy to be a vegetarian.”
Alex Morgan plays as a striker and captain for San Diego Wave FC of the National Women’s Soccer League and the US Women’s National Soccer Team. Although he says that eating plant-based helps with performance, his first motivation for cutting out animal-derived foods was his compassion for animals. In an interview with Reuters, Morgan said her dog was an inspiration.
I am passionate about giving animals a voice. I even adopted a vegetarian diet, because it just didn’t feel right to have a dog that I loved, and still eat meat all the time.
Jack Wilshere is a football coach and former professional player who worked as a midfielder. He is the current head coach of Arsenal U18. In 2018, Wilshere revealed that a vegetarian, gluten-free diet helped him get into the best shape of his life.
I feel sharp and fast on the pitch. I feel like I can stay longer. For example, when we scored the second goal at the end of the Chelsea game, I thought ‘Come on, we can go here again.’ I was pressing them and felt good.
Chris Smalling plays center back for Serie A club Roma. In late 2017 she started eating completely plant-based, not only for her health, but for the animals as well. Smalling said he hopes a leather-free soccer ball will be available soon.
I used to play twice a week and, the second day after playing, I was usually very sore. But when I became a vegetarian, I quickly relapsed. The masseuse noticed that my muscles were getting better too. I get a lot of questions from guys about it.
Jermain Defoe is a former football player who has worked as a striker for the England national team. He credits his plant-based diet with his excellent performance and ability to maintain peak performance at age 35. In an interview, Defoe told the Netflix documentary what health First inspired him to start eating plant-based.
A lot of young players look at me and they say ‘Wow, how can he still be playing at this level at 35?’ I think they wanted to know what the secret was. I think they look at me and think they should try it themselves – and they should, because the sooner you try it, the better.
Fabian Delph, retired in September 2022, plays as a central midfielder and left-back. During his successful career, Delph suffered a setback due to some injuries and decided to make some changes. She revived her health and her career in 2018 when she started practicing mindfulness exercises and eating plant-based.
I changed the fuel I gave my body and switched to a vegetarian diet.
We hope you got a kick out of this list! These soccer players are just a few of the many inspiring athletes worldwide who are choosing to leave animal products off their plates. Want to learn more about how eating a vegetarian diet affects our bodies? watch Game changer On Netflix!