Washington Redskins Player Goes Vegan and Encourages Teammates to Join Him

Football is the land of meat-eating, muscular men, right?  Not anymore, it seems. Lately a new, more thoughtful breed of player has taken to the field.

At the top of that list is Washington Redskins offensive lineman Trent Williams.

Williams recently watched the buzzy new documentary “What the Health” on Netflix. Like many others, he was appalled at what he learned about the link between meat, dairy and illnesses like diabetes and cancer. The film even convinced Williams to adopt a plant-based diet.

“I’m bettering my life. I ain’t [expletive] with that animal product no more,” Williams told The Washington Post.

Williams, a five-time Pro Bowler, announced his dietary change to nine of his fellow Redskins during an offensive linemen camp he held at his home in Texas. He’d invited all 15 Redskins offensive linemen to his house for a week to work out, do a little yoga and bond a bit. For the nine who agreed to come, Williams paid for airfare, hotels, workout attire and meals.  

Ah yes, meals. That’s how the topic of going vegan must have arisen.

Williams discussed the “What the Health” documentary and explained why he’d dropped meat, eggs and dairy from his diet. At this point, he was only six days into his new way of eating.  

During the entire week, while most of the other players ate meaty dishes, Williams stayed almost entirely true to his decision, opting for pasta and salads. He slipped once, eating a venison dish at Yauatcha, a Chinese tea room. Williams told The Washington Post he’s “99 percent” plant-based, and still working on that last one percent.

Williams must have been convincing, because his Redskins colleagues Arie Kouandjio and Isaiah Williams watched the documentary soon after that discussion. Kouandjio decided to switch to a plant-based diet too, and Isaiah Williams went pescatarian — plant-based except for fish.

But other plant-based NFL players started eschewing animal products even earlier than Williams did. While most aren’t 100 percent vegan or vegetarian, it’s interesting how many professional athletes now understand the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

  • Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez went plant-based in 2007after reading “The China Study.” He’s since added small amounts of meat back into his diet.
  • Houston Texans running back Arian Foster went vegan for one football season in 2012 after watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives.”  Foster stopped for personal reasons, but told Well and Good, “it’s a common misconception that you can’t get sufficient protein and caloric intake as a vegan. I actually felt I recovered a lot better when I was vegan.”
  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t actually announced that he’s vegan, but his dietary choices lean heavily in that direction during most of the year. There’s also his partnership with successful Boston-based vegan meal delivery service Purple Carrot.
  • Beleaguered quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a true vegan — he doesn’t eat animal products for ethical reasons.

“[A plant-based diet is] not compatible with the lifestyle of a professional football player on so many levels,” former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams told Men’s Journal. Williams became one of the NFL’s first vegetarians in 2005.  ”People get weird about it. They don’t understand it. It goes against what they believe. And it takes a lot of work.”

That concern is a load of hooey. Anyone who believes being vegan will automatically hamper an athlete’s ability isn’t paying attention. There are many vegan athletes who are at the top of their games, and the vegan diet is helping them get there.  

Case in point: Venus Williams, women’s tennis superstar. Rich Roll, world-class ultramarathoner, Olympic sprinting gold medalist Carl Lewis and bodybuilder Torre Washington. The list goes on and on.

Despite the concerns voiced by others, a growing number of NFL players are at least trying the plant-based way. They understand the message — plant-based is healthier by far than eating animal products. These athletes want to adjust their diet to improve their overall health and lengthen their lives.

You know the plant-based message is really sinking in when NFL football players decide they can train and perform just fine without eating any animal products. I hope Trent Williams makes this change work. Perhaps someday the success of vegan athletes could encourage the whole NFL to stop eating animal products.

As more and more football players make the switch, it might just convince men that being vegan isn’t just for annoying hipsters. It’s for tough guys too.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr

86 comments

Paulo R
Paulo R6 days ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R6 days ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R6 days ago

ty

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Julie C
Julie C1 months ago

Can we now get rid of the vegan eating is dangerous absurdity?

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Janis K
Janis K1 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Karen P
Karen P1 months ago

It's good news, but it's such a pity that the main reason seems to be the health of the person who used to partake of meat and dairy, instead of any actual care for the fate of the animals. Still, a good start.

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Toni W
Toni W1 months ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W1 months ago

TYFS

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Janis K
Janis K1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 months ago

GREAT! Thanks for sharing!

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