An athlete’s diet helps them achieve their full potential in their sport. For footballers to rise to the top of their profession, it takes more than just skill. They have to be able to physically perform week in and week out for their clubs and nations when called upon.
Their clubs go into so much detail in adapting their training and recovery plans to ensure they are at peak fitness, and this goes for sleep patterns and their diets as well.
Footballers, as well as other top athletes, have been moving to plant-based vegan diets in a bid to improve their health as well as lengthen their careers.
The Argentine international has been a fan favorite at each club he represented before retirement in 2021. At Manchester City, he won five Premier League titles and was always one of the favorites in football betting for first goal scorer or golden boot each year.
Aguero switched to a plant-based diet to help speed up his post-injury recovery and the severity of his injuries. With the advice of a doctor, he checked his diet and how it affects his body, removing meat, pasta, and sugar to help improve his health and fitness.
Having left Manchester United for Roma in Italy, Smalling was surrounded by a new diet and traditions. He had decided though, while at Manchester United, to start a vegan diet and since cutting out meat and dairy his symptoms of tendinitis and inflammation have greatly reduced.
One of the most successful footballers in the world, Morgan represented the United States 190 times, scoring 115 goals. She has played for a number of sides across the United States like Orlando Pride, she is currently at San Diego Wave, and has also played in Europe for Tottenham Hotspur and Lyon.
She has been vegan since 2017 having made the decision for both animal welfare and health reasons. The change to a plant-based diet has given her more energy as well as helped her sleep better which has ensured she can compete at the highest level, even into her 14th year as a professional.
The Spanish right-back has been on loan at Real Betis from Arsenal this season and managed to help his side win the Copa del Rey this year over Valencia. He has been following a vegan diet since 2016 after deciding to for health reasons, though is keen to state that the sustainability of the planet and animal cruelty motivate him even more to promote the diet.
He has invested in Forest Green Rovers which is an English football club and the world’s first vegan and carbon-neutral football club who are looking to promote sustainability for the future with all their actions.
Defoe turned to a plant-based diet when he was 34 back in 2017 in order to prolong his career as a footballer. The switch to veganism helped him recover quicker after games and training as well as improved his performance.
He started cutting down his meat intake and realized he had more energy and was getting fewer muscle injuries. He attended a nutritionist who ran tests that saw he was getting all the nutrients he needs from a plant-based diet and his proteins come from beans, pulses, tofu, tempeh, and Quorn.
While at Manchester City, Delph suffered a number of injuries and found that switching to a vegan diet helped with his recovery. Having injuries and setbacks in his career have been difficult to deal with on a mental level. He ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, tore his lateral meniscus, and had medial ligament damage and thought his career could be over, though a vegan diet has helped in his recovery from these injuries.
He was even able to keep on performing at the highest level and moved to Everton after leaving Manchester City and found that combining his diet with mindfulness exercises and the moving meditation of Tai Chi have helped his body and mind prepare for competing in the latter stages of his career.
Each of these players and many more have found benefits to the health and mindset from moving to a plant-based diet. The improvements the body finds from removing meat, dairy, and sugar from the body are well publicized by many vegan athletes.
The recovery from injury as well as after competing has been highlighted as a real strength of this diet. Less inflammation, higher energy, and better sleeping patterns are also accredited to the diet, not only from the health benefits but the mental benefits of the diet.
Knowing you are helping to contribute to the sustainability of the planet as well as the animal welfare concerns can motivate you like it does most of these footballers as well. Enough so, that like Hector Bellerin investing in Forest Green Rovers, others will do the same in other ways, investing in the planet and promoting this healthy lifestyle.