Manchester United footballer Chris Smalling has credited his vegan diet with keeping him in shape and injury-free.
Smalling converted to the plant-based lifestyle slowly but surely, initially phasing out red meat, a small step that made a significant improvement to his health — improving his tendinitis. “Red meat causes a lot of [inflammation] and when I was cutting that down, the tendinitis started to go,” he told the Telegraph.“It used to be a problem in terms of warm-ups, because getting going was a bit of a nightmare. My tendinitis has got better and better.”
Since then, Smalling has converted to a complete plant-based lifestyle, a decision fully supported by his long-time vegan wife, model Sam Cooke. The difference in his athletic performance is significant, he notes. “Normally the start of pre-season can be quite a tough time, but I haven’t felt it all,” he explained.
However, it’s not all about health for Smalling, ethics are also a factor after Cooke made him sit down and watch a selection of vegan documentaries. He said, “it opens your eyes a little bit in terms of different industries and that persuaded me to go full vegan.”
“Since then I’ve played a lot of games,” he continued. “Normally the second day after a game would be the worst. I would feel very tired, but I felt like I was recovering very quickly. In terms of the vegan diet, there were a lot of factors that helped with that and I was able to keep banging out games without being too sore.”
Restaurants and cooking at home are a walk in the park, claims Smalling, largely thanks to his wife’s advice. However, it’s at work where things become a bit more tricky for the Manchester United centre back, who is the only vegan currently on the team. However, his club has been supportive of his dietary choices. “Some of the staff are vegetarian and some of the players try bits and pieces,” he explains. “It’s about eating more good things. The club [has] been very good, the transition has been quite easy.”
“If you’re feeding yourself good food and making sure you’re eating the right supplements, I think you reduce the chances of getting any niggling injuries,” says Smalling. “Touch wood, I’ve not had any major problems since then and hopefully, I can keep fit and play as many games as I can.”
Image Credit: Chris Smalling