More And More NBA Stars Are Going Vegan – Here’s Why

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Professional sports are naturally rough, especially in the NBA, one of the most competitive leagues on earth. Of course, when players are not thinking about schedules, titles, endorsements, and teams, these athletes must stay in tip-top shape. And the foundation of staying in great shape? Diet.

Most would imagine an NBA athlete’s strict diet to consist of mainly protein, like fish, chicken, eggs, so on. However, these days, more and more NBA players have decided to go vegetarian or vegan. In case you didn’t know, vegetarians just avoid animal meat, like pork, chicken, fish, etc. Meanwhile, vegans avoid animal products of any kind, so not only meat, but also honey, eggs, gelatin, and so on. Their reasons vary from health to moral reasons. Nonetheless, they’ve been proving you enjoy a meatless, dairyless diet while maintaining a healthy (and tasty) lifestyle!

Going Vegan: Eating Healthy, Living Better

The reasons for NBA players swearing off animal produce products vary greatly. For example, Jahlil Okafor, who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans, stopped consuming dairy products because of a knee injury that occurred last summer. Afterward, he decided to go vegan. Now, he’s better than ever! “The knee’s great. I haven’t had any issues with the knee. There’s no swelling, I think it’s all due to me taking care of myself and obviously the diet,” Okafor said in an interview.

Meanwhile, Damian Lillard, from the Portland Trail Blazers, went vegan to lose some weight. After switching, he shed ten pounds thanks to avoiding dairy and meat products. In an interview, Lillard said he wants to eat “cleaner” for professional reasons, too. “I was trying to play lighter this year, be easier on my joints, and on my feet.”

Kyrie Irving, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, also went vegan. According to the star point guard, avoiding animal products helps him from feeling exhausted after workouts or games. “My energy is up, my body feels amazing. Just understanding what the diet is like for me [is] beneficial for me.” Others, like Wilson Chandler, also from the Nets, said going vegan improved his overall lifestyle: he sleeps better, wakes up in a better mood, recovers faster from injuries, and has more energy throughout his day.

“Fight For Progress For The Next Generation”

NBA Diet
Sue Ogrocki/NBA, Beyond Meat

While performance and health are great reasons to go vegan, other players have more moral reasons for making the jump. Many cited reducing animal waste and byproducts, which are a significant contributor to global warming. In fact, studies show that meat consumption contributes roughly 15% of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Meanwhile, other players cited compassion for animals, and their lives are reasons enough to go vegetarian or vegan.

Plus, these days, there are so many tasty and healthy meat replacements, like Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger. The former even hired Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), a nine-time NBA champion, as the ambassador of the brand. In a tweet, Paul wrote of Beyond Meat: “I tell my son that my job is to fight for progress and to look out for the next generation. This starts with taking care of myself, so I have the fuel to push harder. What I put in my body matters now, more than ever.”

Sources: Medium, PETA, SBNation.