The Vegan Society research statistics say that veganism has increased by about 350% in the UK in the span of a decade, with thousands of people cutting out meat and related products from their diet. Animal products and meat have been lauded as necessary fuel for sportsmen, for example soccer players. However, recently it has been noticed that a growing number of professional athletes are focusing on plant-based diets for a reduction in recovery time and overall good health. It has been claimed by vegan soccer players that they have a lot more energy and can make a quicker recovery after an injury due to their vegan diet. They also feel that they are more motivated and are in a better mood.
There is no doubt that soccer fans from across the globe must have stationed themselves in front of their TV sets during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Series. A few players who played in the World Cup are of particular note as they follow a vegan or plant-based diet.
The first player is the ever-popular Lionel Messi. After Argentina failed to score a win in the 2014 world cup, Messi was disheartened and felt that his performance on the field was not up to the mark. It was then that he decided to change his diet. For a player of his caliber to opt for a vegan diet is very unusual. Nutrition is an important part of the training of a professional football player. This is especially so as a lot of money is at stake and it all rests on the aptitude and the performance of the player. Shocking though it may sound, there is no monitoring body that decides what the players eat. They are by and large left to eat whatever they like.
Messi decided that the meat-based diet didn’t suit his body and wanted to do something about it. Going vegan sounded like a good option. Messi has claimed that the vegan diet has changed his performance on the field considerably.
Another famous player to have gone vegan is Fabian Delph. Fabian, who is 28 years old, is a Yorkshire man. He was recently interviewed by the Manchester Evening News and he stated that it was a vegan diet and mindfulness exercises that came to his aid when he injured himself during the Premier League trophy and the World Cup. While he was struggling to recover from his injury, Delph debated on the matter; wondering if his performance would be as good if he switched to a vegan diet. He pushed aside his doubts and began to look objectively at his body. The soccer player studied the weaker parts of his body and after a thorough research of his injuries; he started to strengthen his body.
Delph also started mindfulness exercises and practiced meditative exercises such as Tai Chi. But most of all, it was the food that he was putting into his body that counted. Cutting out meat totally, Delph went vegan and was astounded by his improved performance.
Hector Bellerin who represents Spain has his own story to tell. This well-known Barcelona-born Football player who is 23 years old has seen improved levels of fitness ever since he turned vegan. As per an article that appeared in the Evening Standard, he cut out animal products from his diet at the beginning of the season and gives credit to veganism for his improved performance and quick recovery. The diet helped ease the pressure on the ankles that were causing him trouble.
Hector says that at the start of the diet, he just wanted to try it for a couple of weeks so that he could detox his body. But the diet made him feel so good that he has now decided to continue with it. Hector feels that the diet helped him not only physically, but mentally too. He likes to make veggie patties when he is at home and has a special liking for hummus. He further stated that he wanted to remove toxins from his body. After just six months of following a vegan diet, he felt great. He has a lot more energy now than before; when he gets up in the morning. Hector says that his decision to switch to a plant-based diet was not just to improve his soccer performance on the field. He also has a conscience about eating animal meat.
A lot of people noticed when Jermain Defoe turned vegan. Though a successful player, Defoe didn’t make it to the World Cup Squad this year. Defoe, who is very popular on social media, has 456K followers on Instagram and around a million people follow him on Twitter. That says a lot when it comes to his power to influence the masses. When he spoke to the reporters from The Guardian last year, Defoe said that he gave credit to his plant-based diet for his form. He also attributed his improved recovery time to the vegan diet. Defoe feels that he has managed to adopt veganism very successfully.
It was Defoe’s girlfriend who made the suggestion that he should try veganism. She showed him some documentaries on the benefits of veganism and told him that he should give it a go. Defoe is happy to have someone besides him to drive him on. He further said that giving up a normal diet wasn’t that difficult as he enjoys the feeling he gets when he scores goals.
Like Messi, soccer player Sergio Aguero too follows a vegan diet and feels that it has improved his performance considerably. Sergio always suffered from problems in his ankles when he played hard. The ankles would get very stiff and get inflamed. After following a vegan diet, he doesn’t have to strap them to play. Like Hector, Aguero too feels that what we are doing to the earth and the animals is not right. It is time to pay back by going vegan.
With the vegan movement gaining momentum, its people like Hector, Aguero and Messi who will play a pivotal role in influencing people to give up animal products.