NFL Stars You Had No Clue Were Vegan
One of the most important aspects of an NFL star’s lifestyle is their diet. What they put into their bodies directly affects how they are able to perform on the field. In the last two decades, a new way of eating has taken the league by storm — going vegan. From Tom Brady to Tyrann Mathieu, some of the best players have given up meat and meat-based products for clean green living, and they credit this change for their success. These are the NFL stars you had no idea were vegan.
David Carter Was One Of The First
300-pound defensive end David Carter became one of the first NFL stars to publicly go vegan. He was inspired to change his lifestyle after watching Forks Over Knives, a documentary about the health impacts of an animal-based diet.
At the time, Carter was suffering from several ailments, all of which he claims cleared up shortly after. He said, “I need protein to be big and strong, but look at some of the largest and strongest animals in the world and none of them eat meat.” Since retiring, Carter has become an activist for a vegan lifestyle.
Cam Newton Is New To Veganism
Cam Newton has taken a lot of hits in his NFL career and has somehow bounced back from them all no worse for the wear. The only problem is he hasn’t always gotten healthy again as quickly as he’d like. That’s why at 30 years old he made the decision to go vegan.
Speaking with ESPN, Newton said, “I’ve been a vegan all year, and I don’t think I’m going back. I feel good. I recover well. And that’s pretty much what it’s all about.”
Theo Riddick Says Plants Give Him More Energy
Theo Riddick became a vegan while playing for the Detroit Lions. He says before his diet, “I wouldn’t really feel better until probably Friday. And then you go back out there and play on Sunday.”
After changing his lifestyle, Riddick said, “I’ve noticed a difference just with my energy level. I’m not a junk-food type of eater. I’m like a smoothie guy; I do a lot of fruit and throw my kale and all my protein in there and that’s how I get everything.”
Tyrann Mathieu Was Tired Of The Lies
Tyrann Mathieu began his transition to veganism in 2016. The reasons for changing his diet were simple, “I was tired of eating poison [and] was tired of supporting people that don’t support us in a healthy way.”
Like others on this list, he also says giving up meat has made him feel more energized. Since going vegan, Mathieu has lost 16 pounds and, while he has slipped up and eaten meat once or twice on the road, feels better with a plant-based lifestyle.
Andre Patton Eats Plant-Based Burgers And Hot Dogs
His change came after a friend showed him how the meat industry handles its products.
To make sure he gets protein, Patton says, “I eat plant-based burgers and hot dogs… To be honest, if I’m around meat — like meat, chicken, beef — it smells. It just smells so bad.” It doesn’t sound like he’ll be going back to meat anytime soon.
Griff Whalen Is No Longer A Midwest Eater
If you asked Griff Whalen about his diet growing up, he would tell you it was “typical Midwest.” If you asked him about his diet today, he would proudly tell you he has been vegan for six years.
Whalen credits his diet to faster recovery times and having more energy. He does admit starting his diet was the hardest part. “It’s not too tough now. I would say the first six months, maybe a year, is pretty tough because you’re totally reprogramming what you look for to fill your plate up,” he said.
Derrick Morgan Inspired His Teammates To Go Vegan
Derrick Morgan may be retired, but the impact he had on 15 of his Tennessee Titans teammates still lives on. Morgan decided to go vegan, and asked his wife to cook all his new meals.
As he ate in the locker room, his teammates slowly came around and asked for meals of their own. Morgan believes that, “Overcoming the preconceived notions is the biggest part. I was a part of it. I used to believe athletes had to eat meat to maintain play, then I educated myself.”
DaQuan Jones Gave In To Derrick Morgan
DaQuan Jones is one of Derrick Morgan’s teammates who was convinced to become a vegan. He was enticed to join the movement after learning of the health benefits that going meatless provides athletes.
Unlike everyone else so far on this list, Jones hasn’t committed fully to his new lifestyle. He admits to giving himself one “cheat meal” a week that usually consists of chicken. He says the meal is used to provide a protein boost in his diet.
Wesley Woodyard Was A Tough Sell
Another Titan who has committed to a plant-based diet is Wesley Woodyard. When he first heard his teammates were going vegan he said, “y’all crazy with this vegan thing. I’m from LaGrange, Georgia. I’m going to eat my pork.”
Eventually, he changed his mind, and now he feels better than ever, even admitting, “I used to feel sluggish when I ate heavy. I don’t get tired like I used to and that’s definitely the food I eat.”
Brandon Flowers Used Veganism To Cut Weight
Former NFL star Brandon Flowers took the vegan plunge. He wasn’t happy with his weight, and the diet helped him cut 12 pounds before training camp that year. Since then, he’s fallen in love with the lifestyle.
When asked if he misses meat, he said, “You don’t just cut out the taste of having a hamburger. They have vegan hamburgers that taste like hamburgers you know, so why not go with that instead of putting the meat of an animal inside your body.”
Aaron Rodgers Is Mostly Vegan
Aaron Rodgers is going to end up in the NFL Hall of Fame. Recently, in an effort to extend his career as much as possible, he went mostly vegan. He made the change, following what he calls the 80/20 model.
Following the model, Rodgers keeps 80 percent of his meals healthy. Since he started his diet, he has thrown nearly 100 touchdown passes, including a career-high 40 in the first year of his program.
Ricky Williams Was Vegan Before It Was Cool
In 2005, NFL superstar running back Ricky Williams went 99 percent vegan. The only dairy he ate, and still eats, is Greek yogurt. When he first began telling people about his diet, he said, “People get weird about it. They don’t understand it. It goes against what they believe. And it takes a lot of work.”
Williams ended his NFL career with over 10,000 rushing yards, giving him a legitimate shot to be inducted into the Hall of Fame one day.
Eric Johnson Is Investing In Vegan Fast Food
Eric Johnson played for the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints during his NFL career. Today, however, he is more famous for his relationship with Jessica Simpson. While the pop star has gone back and forth with her own diet, Johnson is vegan and looking to invest.
Johnson initially planned to open a vegan fast food restaurant in Los Angeles in 2010, with the goal of eventually expanding nationwide. While there is no information on if he was able to make his dream a reality, we still salute his effort and drive.
Tony Gonzalez Tried Veganism
Tony Gonzalez is one of the greatest tight ends to ever step on a football field. During his career, he set nearly every receiving record for the position. Part of his success on the field was his dedication to his diet, which at one point was completely vegan.
Being a full-blown vegan didn’t stick for Gonzalez though, as he ultimately landed with the 80/20 model that would occasionally allow him to eat fish or chicken with a meal.
Venus Williams Is Vegan For Her Health
Venus Williams has won just about every trophy she can in tennis. Next to her sister, she might be the greatest female tennis player ever. She’s also a vegan. Williams switched to a raw vegan diet in 2011 after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome.
She says, “I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I wanted to maintain my performance on the court. Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible [through raw, vegan food].”
Lewis Hamilton Just Keeps Winning
Lewis Hamilton won his fifth Formula 1 world championship. The celebration came one year after the sport’s biggest star went vegan. Today, he has a net worth of over $170 million, so you know he doesn’t regret his decision.
One of the main reasons Hamilton gave up meat was to help reduce greenhouse emissions caused by cow agriculture, “They say it is more than what we produce with our flights and our cars, which is kind of crazy to think. The cruelty is horrible and I don’t necessarily want to support that.”
Kyrie Irving Was Convinced By Netflix
Throughout his young career, Kyrie Irving has made a lot of controversial statements. Perhaps his most famous is saying he thinks the Earth is flat. One thing he has done that is not controversial, though, is go vegan.
Irving adopted the lifestyle after watching the Netflix documentary What The Health. Now he says his diet is the reason he can dribble the ball so fast. We’re not sure if that’s true, but it does sound like something the Brooklyn star would believe.
Nate Diaz Has Been Vegan Since He Was A Teen
Nate Diaz is one of the most popular UFC fighters in the world today. We bet his countless fans would be surprised to know that the star is vegan. Not only that, though, he’s been vegan since he was 18-years-old.
Diaz credits his diet for his heightened fighting IQ, “I think you’re a smarter and more intelligent fighter [when you go vegan]. Me and my brother are at the top of the game and have been for a long time. We’re obviously doing something right. Besides knowing how to kick somebody in the head, you should know how to feel good tomorrow.”
WWE Star Daniel Bryan Just Says No To Meat
When you think about what a WWE superstar is, the last thing that comes to your mind is probably a 5’10” vegan. That’s exactly what Daniel Bryan is, though, and he’s not ashamed to admit it.
Bryan was named PETA’s “Most Animal-Friendly Athlete.” Unfortunately, that same year, he became intolerant to soy and needed to include small amounts of meat back in his diet. He says, “When I eat meat I eat as little as possible because it really weighs me down.”
Pat Neshek Lets Veggies Provide His Power
In Major League Baseball, it’s hard for any player, let alone a pitcher, play past 35-years-old. At nearly 40, Pat Neshek is still going strong. So, is his vegan diet to thank?
Neshek says, “After the 2007 season, I had read so much I decided to become a vegan and get rid of all the animal products – meat and dairy. At first, it was basically just for the health benefits – I was intrigued by the 2005 season when I cut a lot of that stuff out and got a lot better. It really changed my career.”