Miami Dolphins wide receiver Griff Whalen is an anomaly in the world of NFL football. He has been a strict vegan for two years and credits his success to his plant-based diet. Coming out of Stanford, Whalen has 45 previous career receptions for 487 yards and three touchdowns with the Colts.
Why go vegan? For Whalen it was the best decision to help him recover from intense daily training. He states, “there’s a certain limit to how much you can do on the field or in the weight room.” After making the switch two years ago, he declares feeling a lot “lighter, faster, quicker on the field. There isn’t that heavy groggy feeling after I eat.” In educating his peers and teammates, “there’s a little bit of playful kidding, but also a lot of good conversations come up about it.”
Although a vegan diet has been beneficial to Whalen, others can be a little doubtful about his choices. Vegan/Vegetarian athletes have long been the subject of ridicule and scrutiny particularly due to the misguided belief that plant-powered athletes don’t get enough protein and thus have less muscle mass, allegedly making them weaker. This is simply not true. Lindsay Dirlam, a registered dietician, says a plant-based diet for athletes is totally feasible and beneficial as long as you “plan it out and make sure you’re getting the protein--eating beans and legumes.” She also comments that these sources of protein can be more valuable to athletes by providing more complex carbs and fiber than animal sources.
Of course, you don't need to go completely vegan to be privy to these benefits. Every step you take toward eating less meat sets you on the path toward a healthy and conscious lifestyle.
Going forward, hopefully athletes like Griff Whalen can continue to educate people on the myths surrounding all forms of reducetarianism and combat the long held stereotype against plant-based diets in high intensity sports like football. Reducetarianism truly is for everyone.
Watch the video below to hear more of Whalen’s own thoughts on being vegan.
Written by Donna Chen