Veganism is undeniably on the rise around the world. Veganism is a way of life that avoids all forms of animal exploitation. This lifestyle is mostly concerned with diet, but also with all other animal products such as leather. A ‘plant-based diet’ is one in which animal products are completely eliminated from the diet.
We’ll look at how an athlete can easily transition to being a vegan footballer. We’ll also talk about the majority of the aspects and issues surrounding this subject.
Why Veganism is Becoming More Popular
The increased focus on climate change, in which animal agriculture and the sourcing of meat products play a significant role, is a major reason for the rise in veganism and plant-based diets.
There is also the issue of animal cruelty. Factory farms supply 99% of meat in the United States, and the figures are similar in other developed countries. People are becoming aware of this and the poor treatment of these animals as a result of meat consumption. Finally, and most importantly for elite athletes, numerous studies on the health benefits of a vegan diet have been conducted.
While meat can be a good source of protein, red meat, in particular, has a number of negative health effects. It is also believed that the benefits of dairy have been exaggerated and that a vegan diet can provide all of the necessary proteins from sources such as beans, legumes, and vegetables.
The Game Changers | Netflix
‘The Game Changers,’ a Netflix documentary, shows examples of elite athletes who have thrived on a vegan or plant-based diet. One of the athletes mentioned in the documentary is UFC fighter Nate Diaz, a vegan who shocked Conor McGregor with a win.
Athletes who are the best in their sport and follow a vegan diet include Novak Djokovic and Lewis Hamilton. Athletes who are vegan include bodybuilders, long-distance runners, Olympians, boxers, and weightlifters. How about a vegan footballer?
Vegan & Plant-based Footballers
Chris Smalling is one of the most outspoken supporters of his vegan diet. The Manchester United defender, who, at the time of writing, is in talks with a permanent move to Italian club Roma, has been vegan for around 3 years. He claims to be more energized and stronger in the gym, and his recovery has improved.
This was evident in his final season at Roma, where he was excellent at the back, prompting the Italian club to try to entice Manchester United to sell him.
Hector Bellerin is another vegan footballer. The Arsenal full back has also touted the benefits of veganism, claiming that it has helped him reduce injuries and calm ankle inflation. Because of his vegan diet, Bellerin no longer needs to tape up his ankles before games.
The Arsenal player also emphasizes the environmental benefits, and he recently became a shareholder in English League 2 side Forest Green Rovers.
Forest Green Rovers
Forest Green Football Club is unique in that it is entirely vegan. This means that all pre- and post-match meals served to players, as well as all refreshments and food served in the stadium, are vegan. The players are free to eat whatever they want at home, but many of the club’s players are vegan.
Fabian Delph is another vegan footballer, and even Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, has experimented with veganism. He and national teammate Sergio Aguero have eliminated meat from their diets, adopting a vegan diet during the season to prevent injuries and inflammation, but they frequently eat a vegetarian diet during the off-season.
The Necessary Diet for a Vegan Footballer
We’ve heard about the benefits of a plant-based diet for the environment, animals, and athletes. But what is the underlying science?
Carbohydrates are an important food group for fueling high energy performance and fitness training. Carbohydrates are best obtained from oats, potatoes, pasta, and fruit, which are all vegan foods. Carbohydrates with protein are the ideal meal for football players to provide energy.
A major concern and criticism of a vegan diet is the difficulty in obtaining adequate protein. As a source of high protein, many athletes consume white meat, such as chicken and fish, as well as lean red meat. These are excellent protein sources, but they are far from the only way to incorporate protein into one’s diet.
True, animal proteins contain a higher concentration of essential amino acids. A wider variety of foods is required to get enough of these amino acids from a vegan diet. Nuts, seeds, nut butter, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, beans, and pulses are examples.
As a result, a vegan footballer would need to eat a wider variety of foods on a daily basis rather than just chicken and vegetables.
What About Vitamins & Minerals?
Vegan footballers’ diets can also benefit from these. Calcium and iron, which are commonly found in milk and red meat, are abundant in leafy green vegetables. Beans and chickpeas contain zinc, and chia, flax, and hemp seeds contain Omega-3, which is associated with fish and seafood.
Vegans should take supplements containing vitamin B12, an essential vitamin found primarily in animal products. Although some plant-based milk is fortified with B12, it is recommended that this be obtained through supplements, which are widely available.
Nutrition & Benefits for a Vegan Footballer
As a result, it can be demonstrated that a vegan diet can provide everything a vegan footballer requires in terms of food groups, vitamins, and minerals to be healthy. But is it actually better than an omnivore diet? When you consider the drawbacks of animal products, you can see why becoming a vegan footballer makes sense.
Increased blood flow is a benefit of veganism for football players. An animal-based meal has been proven to thicken the blood, which slows down the flow of oxygen and the nutrients blood transports to the muscles used during exercise and football.
Furthermore, heavy animal-based meals constrict the arteries, exacerbating the problem. Vegan footballers have the opposite effect because plant-based foods keep blood fluid and allow it to flow quickly to its destination. As a result, a vegan footballer can benefit from muscular endurance during practice and games.
Nitrates found in plant foods also allow muscles to contract more efficiently, conserving energy and allowing them to do more work with the same amount of effort. This improves the performance of a vegan footballer. Nitrates, such as those found in bacon, do not have this effect and have also been linked to cancer.
Recovery hacks like Cryotherapy chambers, which reduce body temperature to around minus 160-200 degrees to reduce inflammation, have become a big part of the game at an elite level. The benefits of recovery are probably the most compelling argument for vegan footballers, and the science backs it up.
Inflammation is an unavoidable side effect of high-intensity exercise and is a necessary part of the healing process. It essentially delays the healing process, such as muscle soreness and aching after a workout or swelling from an impact injury.
In fact, plants have, on average, 64x the antioxidant content of animal foods. Research has shown that vegan footballers can reduce inflammation by 29% in just three weeks by switching from an animal-based diet. The advantages of faster recovery can also increase the longevity of a vegan footballer’s career.
Overall, veganism is still viewed negatively around the world and in football. Many people believe that diets high in meat and dairy help build muscle and provide strong bones, but this is not supported by scientific evidence.
Many proponents of plant-based diets use the example of the world’s largest mammals, such as gorillas, which are herbivores. The arguments against the vegan diet in terms of health are pretty unsubstantial.
A vegan footballer may need to plan their meals more carefully and include a wider variety of foods, as well as take B12 supplements, but they can still get everything they need. As veganism grows in popularity around the world, so will the number of vegan footballers.
Here are Some of our Favourite Football (Soccer) Cleats
Here we will be giving more of an opinion, rather than facts. Are the cleats worth the price that they are being sold at? Should you upgrade from your current cleats, depending on what boots you own? What features stand out in these cleats? If any. Does it do the job? Speed, control, stability etc.
Depending on your needs/preferences. We can also mention its durability, if we have collected enough data on the specific cleats.
What did we expect vs. what we got. Is it maybe overrated/underrated?
Here’s our pick from the very best of the bunch.
On your way to the pro leagues? Here’s our pick.
Want something to start with? Have a look at our pick.