Enjoying the World Cup? Here Are 6 Soccer Players Who Eat Plant-Based
Photo: History of Soccer
Eating vegan is better for animals, the environment, and human health. In fact, many athletes and scientists alike say that switching to plant-based foods enhances performance, recovery, and energy.
With all the evidence supporting a plant-based diet’s positive effects on athletic performance, it’s no surprise that some of the best soccer players turn to vegan foods to help step up their game.
Here are six soccer players who kick-started their physical performance with plant-based foods:
Héctor Bellerín is a right-back and wing-back, and after years playing for Arsenal, he now plays for FC Barcelona and the Spain national football team. He started eating vegan to improve his health and performance in 2017 and soon learned about the other benefits of a plant-based diet.
“The sustainability of the environment and animal cruelty now motivate me just as much as health. The way I feel physically and mentally, knowing I’m doing the right things, makes me really happy to be a vegan.”
Alex Morgan plays as a striker and captains for San Diego Wave FC of the National Women’s Soccer League and the U.S. women’s national soccer team. While she’s said that plant-based eating helps with performance, her first motivation for eliminating animal-derived foods was her compassion for animals. In an interview with Reuters, Morgan said that her dog was the inspiration.
I’m passionate about giving animals a voice. I even adopted a vegan diet, because it didn’t feel fair to have a dog I adore, and yet eat meat all the time.
Jack Wilshere is a soccer coach and former professional player who served as a midfielder. He is the current head coach of the Arsenal U18s. In 2018, Wilshere revealed that a vegan, gluten-free diet helped get him into the best shape of his life.
I feel sharper and quicker on the pitch. I feel like I can last longer. For example, at the end of the Chelsea game when we scored the second goal, I felt ‘come on, we can go on again here.’ I was pressing them and felt good.
Chris Smalling plays center-back for Serie A club Roma. At the end of 2017 he started eating fully plant-based, not only for his health but for animals. Smalling said he hopes a leather-free soccer ball will become available soon.
I’m used to playing twice a week and, the second day after a game, I’d normally be very sore. But when I was becoming a vegan, I was bouncing back faster. The masseuse noticed my muscles were recovering better too. I get a lot of questions from the lads about it.
Jermain Defoe is a former soccer player who served as a striker for the England national team. He credited his plant-based diet with his excellent performance and ability to sustain top performance at age 35. In an interview, Defoe said the Netflix documentary What the Health first inspired him to start eating plant-based.
A lot of the younger players look at me and they’re like ‘Wow, how can he still be playing at that sort of level at 35?’ I think they wanted to know what the secret is. I think they look at me and think they should try it themselves—and they should, because the earlier you try it, the better it will be.
Fabian Delph, retired as of September 2022, played as a central midfielder and left-back. During his successful career, Delph suffered a setback due to some injuries and decided to make some changes. He revived his health and his career in 2018 when he started doing mindfulness exercises and eating plant-based.
I changed the fuel I put into my body and switched to a vegan diet.
We hope you got a kick out of this list! These soccer players are just a few of the many inspiring athletes worldwide who are choosing to leave animal products off their plates. Want to learn more about how eating vegan foods affects our bodies? Watch Gamechangers on Netflix!