A Crew of Elite NFL Athletes are Betting on a Vegan Diet

by Joshua Katcher

More pro-athletes are turning to a plant-based diet to get the most out of their workouts, training, and recoveries. But what might seem like a new trend in the NFL is nothing new to strength sports in general. Back in June 2017, for example, the totally vegan PlantBuilt team competed at the Naturally Fit Games in Austin, Texas in CrossFit, powerlifting, bodybuilding, Olympic weightlifting, and kettlebell – taking home 32 medals. Teammate Sara Lee set an American and world record in kettlebell. Icelandic vegan powerlifter Hulda B. Waage set a record back squat in 2016, and America’s strongest weightlifter, Kendrick Farris “is 100% vegan”, according to both Men’s Fittness and his own testimony from a fun interview during the Rio Olympics where he said, “I’m not missing out on anything…I weigh over two hundred pounds.”

The rewards of a plant-based diet are also becoming popular among elite NFL athletes. Ravens wide receiver Griff Whalen, has followed a strictly vegan diet for almost four years.


Follow Griff on Instagram @griffwhalen

When I tried a whole food vegan diet I felt a major impact in less than 2 weeks. That was enough motivation for me to stick with it. – Griff Whalen

Whalen even eschews leather for ethical reasons. He spoke exclusively with thediscerningbrute.com about why he thinks this trend is happening in his sport:

I think the league is so competitive that many of the guys are looking for any edge they can find, including nutrition. Better nutrition allows us to recover faster, train harder and longer, and ultimately become better athletes. There are many different opinions on the best dietary methods for athletes, and tons of false or partial truths out there, so it can be very difficult to wade through all that to find out what the real facts and research support… Today things are slowly changing with the resources we have online, and also in books and documentaries. I think the real evidence is starting to get some exposure and word is spreading.

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)


Griff is not alone in his experience with the physical rewards of a vegan diet. The Detroit Lion’s running back, Theo Riddick, was interviewed in The Detroit News regarding his switch after suffering a wrist injury.

“I turned vegan over the summer. I’ve noticed a difference just with my energy level. I’m not a junk-food type of eater. I’m like a smoothie guy; I do a lot of fruit and throw my kale and all my protein in there and that’s how I get everything.” – The Detroit News

Arie Kouandjio went vegan with the encouragement of teammate Trent Williams. Photo: Redskins.com


Two Washington Redskins players have also gone vegan; offensive tackle Trent Williams and guard Arie Kouandjio. In an interview with NFL.com Williams said:

“I just wanted to find ways to improve at healthy living, and hopefully it will help me with longevity in my career.” – NFL.com

Trent Williams interviewed on NFL.com


Williams is encouraging others to try it, too, like New Orleans Saints running back, Adrian Peterson, with whom he co-owns O Athletic Gym in Houston. Peterson admitted to being tempted to make the switch himself. He was interviewed by NOLA.com as saying that his diet is about 85% plant-based now. Time will tell if he joins the ranks and gets from aspiring-vegan to 100%. He said:

“I’ve always been kind of leery about processed food, so I’ve always kind of (avoided) it. But once I watched the documentary [What The Health] after I heard about it from Trent, I watched it, and it just kind of puts it in your face. I was just like, it’s time to really kind of change some things up.” – NOLA.com

Filmmaker Santino Panico, whose forthcoming film “From The Ground Up” – which takes a in-depth look at vegetarian and vegan athletes across a spectrum of sports, has spent time with many of these elite athletes, and has gotten to know how they think. I asked Panico for his opinion on this, and he said a trend like this “several years ago would have seemed impossible”.

“Inflammation is an athlete’s worst enemy, especially if that athlete is an NFL player. So these players are seeing research showing that plant-based diets reduce inflammation while diets heavy in meat and animal products cause inflammation.”

Panico also explained that “the culture of the NFL tends to lean towards machismo and food is tied to that.”

“Players believe they need meat to be strong and masculine,” he said. “But now even that is being proven wrong”.

This all begs the question, if a plant-based diet is good enough for athletes in some of the most physically demanding sports, isn’t it sufficient for average people?

The Long Game (and that’s just me warming up)

by Izzy Jacobus


South-Sydney, Australian-born, surf enthusiast James Aspey is an extraordinary man. He puts his body on the line to create awareness about the oppression of the weak and to urge the public to help those in need. In the last couple of years, he’s gone from a relatively unknown personality to a highly respected and revered activist. This cancer survivor, addiction survivor and eating-disorder survivor is like no other.

“I was in such a minority, you know…Ninety-nine percent of people love animals…so, I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t, 99% of people are vegetarian or vegan, fighting for that 1 or 2% to change.”

11380874_839431309468040_1027688737_nAfter a lengthy time in spiritual meditation in Bali, something arose from his subconscious: a realization that he would take a vow of silence for one year to bring attention to the plight of animals. This insightful and articulate man chose to avoid using his voice for 365 days in the hope to speak to the world. He broke his silence on Australia’s most watched news program, citing “the voiceless victims of this planet” as his reason and inspiration.

“I wasn’t wasted one night and had this idea…it came from a pure place.”

13380889_177845419285084_1557769485_nAfter putting his vocal chords and will-power to the test, the twenty-nine-year-old next will move to offering up his skin. He will attempt a 24-hour tattoo challenge “Ink To Make You Think,” with two other human canvasses. The Guinness rules for lengthy tattoos allow for a five minute break every hour which can be taken cumulatively. This group of stereotype-breaking vegans will get equal rights related imagery and quotes inked on them, while doing a live broadcast to raise money for three charities: A Well Fed World, which feed the hungry with vegan food; Lifeline which takes help calls from people about domestic violence; and Greener Pastures (an animal sanctuary).

“And that’s just me warming up.”

jamesaspeyatmantralounge2As for James’ future plans? Well, he plans to donate a kidney to someone in need to “illustrate what it means to suffer and show how incredible it is to help someone.” In addition to highlighting the extent of suffering on this planet, he hopes “to inspire others to do more for those in need. “You don’t have to donate a kidney to save a life. Three times a day we make choices that either help or hurt other Earthlings.”


James Aspey can be found at www.jamesaspey.com.au and the “24-Hour Tattoo Challenge” is on Oct. 29th, beginning at 3pm, donations and viewing, www.think24.com.au



22 Fit Vegan Guys Crushing It On Instagram

Building a posse on Instagram can help give you a daily influx of inspiration. After we posted 13 Vegan Guys on Instagram You Should Be Following, requests came in for more! Since we could all use some motivation to eat healthier, get off our butts and build some strength, here are 22 more of our favorite fit vegan dudes to flood your feed (links below).



In order of appearance:
willtuckerfitness stijepovicmarko mitz.fit victhevegan tofu_fit_guy torre.washington johnnyxaro kufunya_kail
theveganchad joshua.philip incogneato_vegan iamveganmonk tattedvegan mikecasefitness rafaelpinto10
stefanokuhn livityfitness jackedvegan frank_medrano k1lla__cam master_shredda itschrisdamon

13 Vegan Guys on Instagram You Should Be Following

The following 13 guys are creating inspiring and brilliant content on Instagram, and you need to follow them ASAP!


Luciano Acuno Jr. @luckyluciano112 &  Kenny Wong @Genga31
Co-Founders of Bklyn Beast, Actors, Stuntmen

Ian Thomas @ianthomas
Singer, actor, author

Jona Weinhofen @jonaweinhofen

Musician (I Killed the Prom Queen), activist


Allex Knight @sirknight_
Model, SelfMade Man

Peter Badenhop @peterbadenhop

Mike Vallely @mikevallely
Skateboarder, Musician, Actor, Pro Wrestler, Stuntman, Hockey Player


Richie Kul @kulrichie
Actor, model, activist

Jhanelle Castillo @jhanellecastillo
Model, Vegan, Pitbull Advocate

David Carter @the300poundvegan
NFL Defensive Lineman, Animal Rights Activist, Public Speaker

Untitled design

Dom Thompson @domzthompson
Healthcare Executive, Multi-sport athlete, Mostly raw, ethical vegan.

Nimai Delgado @nimai_delgado
The Hardcore Herbivore, trainer, meal-planner

Fat Tony @fattonybmx
CrossFitter, Photographer/Videographer, BMX 

Body Machine: Heavyweight David Haye’s Plant-Powered Return

When heavyweight boxer David Hay had to consider retirement due to a shoulder that was nearly destroyed, he faced two options: quit or get reconstructive surgery with months of recovery. In a lengthy piece for The Telegraph, Haye describes his ordeal, his choice to go vegan, and his formidable resurrection at an age the presents problems for most boxers. On going vegan in 2014, Haye said of animal products that “cutting it out made me feel immediately better and stronger than ever…Everyone should try it.”

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Haye fights Arnold “The Cobra” Gjergjaj in London on May 21, 2016. Watch it on Dave. #HayeDay