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These three footballers became vegan

The football world isn’t known as the most progressive when it comes to sustainability and climate change. However, more and more clubs and footballers are becoming conscious of it. For example, you increasingly see teams opting for international train travel for away games when possible. The prime example is Forest Green Rovers in England, which is the world’s first vegan and carbon-neutral football club. Footballers are also stepping up: Take the striking story behind Morten Thorsby’s jersey number: the Norwegian wears number 2 to draw attention to the climate goal of not allowing the Earth to warm up by more than 2 degrees Celsius. There are also footballers who have stopped eating meat. Some players are temporarily vegan or vegetarian to experiment with the effects. Others, like the next three players, have been vegan for ethical reasons for a longer time.

Hector Bellerin

Héctor Bellerín

Hector Bellerin is one of the most outspoken footballers on the subject of sustainability. The Spaniard has been involved in multiple initiatives in this area. He cycles to the training ground, has been eating vegan for years, and frequently speaks out. Additionally, since 2020, he has been the second-largest shareholder of the previously mentioned Forest Green Rovers. ”At first, it was all about trying it. How it tastes, how it feels, and how it helps, but I think it does way more than that, and now I see myself totally dependent on this particular diet. There is no denying that I love it more than anything else on my table”, Bellerin told The Players’ Tribune.

Chris Smalling

Roma defender Chris Smalling had already been regularly consuming plant-based meals thanks to his vegan wife, which prompted him to experiment with food. First, he eliminated red meat, then he decided to go entirely vegan. ”After a while I started to cut out red meat, because red meat causes quite a lot of inflammation and I had a lot of tendinitis in my knee, which many footballers get. When I was cutting red meat down, the tendinitis started to go”, Smalling told The Telegraph.  ”Since turning vegan, I’ve played a lot of games. 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.”

Christian Burgess

Christian Burgess is an outspoken and dedicated vegan. The English footballer, who serves as a centre-back for Belgian Pro League outfit Union Saint-Gilloise, has followed a vegan lifestyle for over six years. Despite facing initial skepticism within the sports community, Burgess has stayed steadfast in his commitment to veganism. His example illustrates that not only is it feasible to sustain a high level of athletic performance while adhering to a plant-based diet, but it’s also possible to thrive. ”The main reason I do it is for the environment, as it’s a serious problem. It’s only gonna drive up the problem of refugees as natural disasters will increase due to climate change”, Burgess said to EFDN.