When 300-pound professional football players choose a plant-based diet, this catches the public’s attention. Many star NFL players are thriving on this diet and are shifting the cultural perceptions of NFL players and vegans alike. Here are some wonderful examples:
First up: the Tennessee Titans.
Did you know that 15 of their players are on a plant-based diet?
After 11 Titans turned to a vegan diet in 2017, the team went to the playoffs for the first time in a decade, prompting even more players to become plant-based. The group even enjoyed a vegan Thanksgiving together.
It all started when Titan linebacker Derrick Carter decided to go plant-based with the help of his wife Charity, a Le Cordon-Blue-educated chef. Sauces are Charity’s specialty and she likes to cook holistically, creating new recipes all the time. As other players took note of Carter’s tantalizing meals, and heard about how much better he felt, they asked if they could get on board. One by one they joined, and now the group has grown to 15 players.
“Overcoming the preconceived notions is the biggest part,” said Derrick, whose diet is 100 percent plant-based and who led the Titans in sacks last season. “I was a part of it. I used to believe athletes had to eat meat to maintain play, then I educated myself.” – ESPN
It is now training season and Chef Charity is busy preparing and organizing the meals, snacks, and recovery smoothies for all the Titan vegan players. She’s taken to numbering all the individual meal boxes to keep things organized, and initiated a group text so all can chime in with feedback or special requests.
Many of the Titan players have raved about how their plant-based diet has helped increase their energy and speed up their recovery.
Next up: two star quarterbacks.
Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, is one of only two players to win five Super Bowls. Brady has touted his plant-based diet for helping him to achieve sustained peak performance. With this in mind, he recently developed TB12 Performance Meals in partnership with plant-based food-kit delivery service Purple Carrot. All meals are 100% plant-based.
Colin Kaepernick, a free agent, was previously the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick mentioned his vegan diet in 2016, after he’d already been vegan for nine months. He remains vegan today and acknowledges that he’s doing it for the animals. Some NFL teams cited concern about his diet as their reason for not signing this now-famous civil rights activist. But even Niners former director of elite performance, Fergus Connolly, has quashed this concern.
“Kaepernick is likely much healthier because the food is easier to digest, and he can avoid poor fat intake. Connolly said Kaepernick would likely recover faster from bumps and bruises, and is likely able to concentrate better and for longer, and maintain better brain focus [and] that in his time working with Kaepernick, he found him to be one of the most dedicated athletes he’s ever seen in any professional sport. He is not worried about his physical preparations.” – Niners Nation
A petition is now out to have Ben & Jerry’s create a non-dairy ice cream flavor in Kaepernick’s name. (POST PUBLICATION NOTE: It happened in 2021! Their new flavor is “Colin Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled.” Click the link for more information.)
Last, but certainly not least: two NFL players who have challenged the stereotypes.
David Carter played for the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a free agent. Carter turned to a plant-based diet to recover from injuries after he watched the documentary Forks over Knives. He says his life was changed forever. He is now a vegan activist and calls himself “the 300 Pound Vegan.”
Arian Foster, a four-time Pro Bowl backend, was a running back for the Houston Texans when he first mentioned being on a plant-based diet. This was in 2012, the same year that Foster led the NFL in touchdowns. Foster is also known for his “Na Maste” pose after scoring each touchdown, and for his philosophical tweets, which generated a popular following. (He majored in Philosophy at the University of Tennessee.) Foster is now retired.
There are more NFL players we could mention here, but these examples illustrate that it’s a changing culture. More professional athletes are turning to plant-based diets for nutrition, strength, stamina, and recovery. Even when they weigh in at 300 pounds.
Check out our plant-based menu listings at NFL stadiums! The new 2018 menu listings are starting to come in, so check back for updates.
“Ranking NFL rosters from 1 to 32: Super Bowl champs on top.” Pro Football Focus, ESPN Insider
“Vegan meals all the rage for Titans, with 15 players converted,” Cameron Wolfe, ESPN
“What Does Tom Brady Eat? Andy Levitt of Purple Carrot on Making Plant-Based Cooking Easy.” Eat for the Planet podcast episode on TB12 Performance Meals from Purple Carrot
“Colin Kaepernick vegan diet might be the latest excuse for some NFL teams,” David Fucillo, Niners Nation (San Francisco 49ers News)
“Tell Ben & Jerry’s to feature Colin Kaepernick on their ice cream to promote racial justice,” Curtiss Reed, Change.org
The 300 Pound Vegan website
“Arian Foster: The NFL’s Unstoppable Vegan Philosopher,” Peter Schrager, GQ
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