Posted by Madeline Head
It seems there is a new fad diet taking over the NBA. Superstars, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving, who have the most clutch points in the NBA, have switched over to veganism and they love it!
“Been on more of a plant-based diet, getting away from the animals and all that,” Irving told the broadcast team. “I had to get away from that. So my energy is up; my body feels amazing.”
“I wanted to eat cleaner,” Lillard told The Oregonian this offseason as reported by Bleacher Report. “Also I want to play lighter this year and be easier on my joints and feet. I’m getting older, you know what I mean?”
This craze of going vegan and even vegetarian has reached quite a few NBA stars such as Wilson Chandler, Al Jefferson, Garrett Temple, Enes Kanter, JaVale McGee and Jahil Okafor. Just to clarify vegans do not eat any products that come from an animal; like cheese, meat, milk, eggs etc. Vegetarians are able to consume milk, cheese, and eggs but will not eat any kind of meat.
Apparently, the NBA is following the world trend in the rise of plant-based diets. GlobalData’s research suggests that U.S. consumers are now identifying as vegan, which is sitting at 6 percent. The United Kingdom is also seeing a rise in plant-based diets at a rise of 350 percent from 2006 to 2016.
The fact is the game is faster than it used to be and the Basketball Reference is reporting the estimated number of possessions per game is higher than it’s been since 1989. Of course these numbers are higher than the will be as fatigue will eventually kick in from playing such a demanding sport.
Bleacher Report stated that the fastest team during the years 1996-1997 would be the slowest in today’s NBA by quite a bit. NBA Advanced Stats reports on the wide margin between the two teams:
- Fastest team in 1996-97 (76ers): 95.34 possessionsper 48 minutes
- Slowest team in 2017-18 (Grizzlies): 97.76 possessionsper 48 minutes
The documentary What the Health seems to be an influential factor for many NBA athletes. There are a few critics that have “debunked” the documentary and what it promotes. But the upside to the documentary is the fact that it has made a lot of athletes inquire and reflect about going vegan. It has also swayed an abundant amount of athletes to actually make the change.
There is a problem with keeping up with such a complicated diet, since society is not very accommodating of veganism, and the frantic NBA season. Louise Burke, the head of nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport talks about the challenge of balancing the diet and the season:
“The average basketball player is going to find it hard to choose from training table organized for their omnivore teammates,” Burke said as reported by Bleacher Report. “They will also find it difficult to eat on the road, find restaurants and takeaways at small-town locations in the wee hours of the morning when they have finished a game, and meet requirements for nutrients that are harder to find in a vegan diet.”
Even though it presents it challenges many athletes, especially NBA players, are making the transition to a more natural diet and are seeing an increase in benefits such as higher level of energy and less injuries. It seems making this the trend is not just taking the sports world by storm but the world in general. Over the next couple years, I predict we will see more of an increase in people switching to veganism.