Arsenal defender Héctor Bellerín converted to veganism at the start of the Premier League season.
The Spaniard, one of the top right-backs in the division, claims he is already reaping the benefits of a plant-based diet — but admits two of his teammates tease him by trying to put meat on his plate as a joke.
"I wanted to try [it] for a couple of weeks to detox my body," Bellerín told The Players' Tribune. "But I felt so great after, that I've been [vegan] for more than six months now."
Since Bellerín changed his diet, he noticed a number of changes in his body. "The most important thing is the inflammation in my body after games and the speed that my body recovers compared to before."
He adds: "I always had problems with my ankles. When I played hard games they got inflammated and stiff. Now I don't even have to strap them to play anymore."
Bellerín says it is common for people to assume he can only eat salads, or that he will struggle to get protein if he is avoiding chicken or steak. "You have so many things — legumes, dried nuts — all this stuff that has so much protein, but we're not used to eating often."
The switch in diet has also given him more energy. "It did take a few days to feel better. When it got to the beginning of the third week, I felt so good, waking up with so much energy whereas before I used to be that person who would snooze the alarm five times before I get out of bed."
Another thing he noticed was an increased amount of teasing from his teammates, particularly when he went for a meal with fellow defenders Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny.
"Nacho Monreal … I hang with him a lot, even Koscielny. They tell me, 'Hector, where's the meat on your plate? Why you not eating meat today?' They always try to put meat on my plate."
However, he does not take it to heart. "It's all fun, it's all good.