Why Going Vegan Made Chris Smalling a Stronger Football Player

Chris Smalling

Manchester United footballer Chris Smalling is becoming a better player thanks to his vegan diet. Since ditching animal products in favour of plant-based foods, the 29-year-old footballer is “constantly getting stronger,” he told Sky Sports.

Smalling, who plays as centre back, converted to a plant-based lifestyle slowly but surely, initially phasing out red meat – a small step that made a significant improvement to his health by improving his tendinitis“Red meat causes a lot of [inflammation] and when I was cutting that down, the tendinitis started to go,” he told the Telegraph“It used to be a problem in terms of warm-ups, because getting going was a bit of a nightmare. My tendinitis has got better and better.” 

Since then, Smalling has converted to a complete plant-based lifestyle and the benefits are even more prominent. He said that whilst cutting out red meat “vastly improved” his tendinitis as well as his recovery time, going vegan had the most impact. “I had quite a few symptoms, but since I went fully vegan I don’t feel it at all anymore,” he said to Sky Sports.

As well as helping to manage his condition, plant-based foods are boosting his athletic performance.

“We did a test of our hamstrings and I’ve increased by 35 per cent from the last test,” he told Sky Sports. “On the [exercise] bike my power output has gone up. I’m constantly getting stronger and getting better results.”

Smalling’s energy levels have also been affected, telling the sports publication that his fatigue levels have reduced and he now experiences faster recovery after games.

“Even my skin, I had a lot more break outs before than I do now. I’m feeling a lot of physical benefits from it,” he added.

However, it’s not all about health for Smalling; ethics are also a factor after he and his partner, long-time vegan and model Sam Cooke, watched a selection of vegan documentaries. He said to the Telegraph, “it opens your eyes a little bit in terms of different industries and that persuaded me to go full vegan.”

Smalling’s club has been supportive of his dietary choices. “It’s about eating more good things. The club [has] been very good, the transition has been quite easy,” he explained.

“The [club’s] chef makes me a vegan section and often quite a lot of the other players are looking at it thinking: that looks good. And then by the end of the dinner a lot of it’s gone. A lot of them are trying it,” he said.

Fellow vegan footballers include Manchester City’s Fabian Delph, Arsenal’s Hector Bellerín, and Bournemouth’s Jermain Defoe, who has advised young players to eat plant-based to keep fit and healthy.

Image Credit: Chris Smalling