Paul Gascoigne's times are over: the years in which Gazza collected the food thrown into the pitch to taunt his size, eating it without problems; those of the gin bottles before the games, the absence of water and the abundance of cocaine. The years of unruly food are now an old faded memory, totally erased by the healthy players who have started to take seriously any discourse related to diets, food will be and obsessive attention to their body: do you think that Pippo Inzaghi would have scored so much if he had not started eating bresaola and plasmon biscuits so manic?

Today, for a player at the highest level, proper nutrition is simply fundamental. In Italy today there are about 1,9% of the population are vegan people, while in today's football, which provides ever greater physicality and intensity, in which the games played in a year have increased exponentially, eating properly is the basis on which a great career is built.

More and more footballers have turned to a vegan diet, some to improve the performance of their physique, some as an ethical choice for respect for the environment and animals, intended as a desire to reduce the environmental impact of meat processing and suffering that provokes in beasts. Many of them are among the top global players, having come to choose a diet without animal products (vegans not only avoid meat, but also any animal-derived food such as cow's or goat's milk, cheese and eggs) after suffering injuries or physical problems that thanks to the new power seem to have resolved. Let's find out who the "green" players and soccer players are.

Who are vegan footballers? Many more than you think: Messi, Aguero and a lot of Premier League players | Image 2

Neil Robinson

Becoming a vegan is not only a current trend: the former Everton and Swansea player, in fact, has been a vegan since 1980, when he finally realized that the production of milk and cheese he was particularly fond of was actually an act cruel. His meals were based on rice, tofu, beans and soy, but his banana toast snacks, which propitiated his nickname 'bananaman', became particularly famous. In his opinion:

“Animal foods are absolutely unnecessary for health and fitness.  Meat and eggs offer nothing from an energy viewpoint with carbohydrates sourced exclusively from plants. They do offer protein but it’s so easy to get protein from plant sources.  I’d also be concerned about hormones and steriods being passed on via the meat and you don’t know what’s being passed from cow or chicken to milk or eggs.”

 

Lionel Messi 

The best player in the world (?) has decided to switch to a vegan diet just before the last World Cup. It seems that the diet switch has caused him to lose more than three kilos, improving his performance also from the point of view of resistance and speed and reducing the risk of muscle injuries. The Argentine star decided to change diet following the numerous accidents that saw him on the sidelines, when he had to stop during training or games to give a stomach, a victim of nausea and vomiting. It seems that the new diet has also solved this problem and we hope it has further extended the career of an extraordinary player both thanks to an Italian doctor, the famous Dr. Poser who visited the Argentine more recently in the recent past in a small town in Friuli.

 

Jermain Defoe

Playing (and scoring) at high levels when you are thirty-six years old is not for everyone. Jermain Defoe attributes this longevity to the choice of a vegan diet, recommended by his girlfriend: like many others, he claims that this type of diet too, and has preserved him from muscle injuries. Let's take the words of a legend of English football close to five hundred caps in the Premier League. 

Who are vegan footballers? Many more than you think: Messi, Aguero and a lot of Premier League players | Image 1

Hector Bellerin 

Well-explained on The Players Tribune, the Spanish national team and Arsenal right-back had decided to try the vegan feeding only for a limited time, but its benefits seem to have convinced him to the point of completely completing the transition - also inspired by advice from professional boxer David Haye. For a player like him, who makes athletics among his best skills, special attention to what contributes his exceptional speed is a must. 

 

Alex Morgan 

The star of the American women's football movement, one of the main protagonist of the current World Cup in France, adopted in early 2018 a vegan diet that she seems to be excited about. Like many teammates (the countrymen Meghan Klingenberg and Heather Mitts, for example), she said that a diet like this allows her to recover much more quickly from the fatigue of the games.

 

Sergio Aguero 

Lionel Messi's offensive partner in the Albiceleste has also adopted a vegan diet under his doctor's advice, in preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Aguero has often suffered from muscle injuries during his career and it seems that the new diet has contributed to making them disappear almost completely, bringing it back to being the decisive player that we all know - even if it is not clear if he is following it intensely today. The presence of two Argentines on this list cannot be entirely random: the Argentines are exceptional consumers of meat (do you know the famous asado?), a real passion that perhaps does not go so well with food as a professional footballer must respect to always be at the top.

 

Fabian Delph

Another English player, another Premier League player. That many footballers in the most physically tough league in the world rely on a vegan diet is something that tells us a lot about the benefits that can be derived from them. The Manchester City's jolly and the English national team has been vegan for about two years, those in which he definitively affirmed himself as a decisive player, which helped him to finally explode more than Mr. Guardiola's advice. It's he himself who establishes a connection between the two things:

"I think my new lifestyle has played an integral part in how I grew up as a footballer these last few months. I feel I am stronger after this transition to vegan food".

 

Chris Smalling

One of the greatest benefits of vegan diets is the self-realization of the improvements brought by them: this is the case of Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, who after having taken the vegan route feels much stronger. A habit, born thanks to his wife Sam, and then developed definitively thanks to the reading of The Happy Vegan by Russell Simmons, that the central English is also 'passing' to many of his teammates.

Who are vegan footballers? Many more than you think: Messi, Aguero and a lot of Premier League players | Image 0

Serge Gnabry

At the beginning of 2015 the then WBA manager, Tony Pulis, said that he was not able to playing for his team; in May 2019 he was nominated Bayern Munich's Player of the Season: the sensational upgrade of the German winger can also be explained by his decision to become vegan, a decision which, as he himself declared to the German press, came about thanks to TV documentaries. It is not known if it will last forever, but in the meantime it has already borne its fruits.

 

Bonus: Forest Green Rovers 

Forest Green Rovers are an English team of Nailsworth who play in League Two. The president is Dale Vince, CEO of Ecotricity, a global giant in clean energy. It's the only team in the world to be totally eco-sustainable since 2015: from the stadium (equipped with solar panels to collect energy and sustain itself independently) to the field, up to the feeding of its members, obviously vegan. They just presented 2019/2020 shirt, 50% produced from bamboo.