Grand Slam-winning tennis champion Venus Williams has launched a vegan protein brand, called Happy Viking.
The first product is a vegan protein shake inspired by the post-workout recipe she’s used for the past 10 years. It contains 20 grams of plant protein made from peas and brown rice as well as all nine essential amino acids, which aid in recovery and prebiotic fiber to help digestion. It comes in two flavors: chocolate and vanilla.
The decision to launch the new Happy Viking range was inspired by the prolific athlete’s own diet.
In 2004, Williams found herself in a battle against her own body. She struggled with fatigue, shortness of breath, and muscle and joint pain. Her symptoms continued to grow progressively worse until she could no longer bear it and in 2011, the highly decorated tennis player was forced to take time off to seek professional help.
It was then that Williams was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition that affects the nervous system and is identified by symptoms such as dry mouth and eyes, fatigue, and joint pain. She stepped away from the U.S. Open for the rest of the year and as a result, she fell from the top 100 tennis players for the first time since 1996.
Sjögren’s syndrome cannot be cured, but it can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes. In addition to taking medication, Williams adopted a raw vegan diet to help manage her symptoms.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, following an anti-inflammatory diet may help alleviate symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome. This means eliminating common triggers, such as red meat, dairy, refined carbohydrates and sugars, alcohol, and gluten. However, no two bodies are alike, so a change in diet may affect people in different ways.
“I learned so much about the food system and how it can affect your body and your health. As an athlete if I’m not at optimal performance, someone else will be,” Williams told Fast Company. The star athlete returned to tennis in 2012 and finished the season ranked at number 24.
Now, nearly a decade later, Williams has applied her experience with going plant-based to launch Happy Viking.
She no longer follows a strictly raw vegan diet, but she still leaves animal products off her plate. In a 2019 interview with Insider, the tennis player said she introduced some cooked foods into her diet. Lentils are now one of her favorite post-workout meals.
“That way of eating was just hard to maintain for long periods of time,” she said. “Sometimes you just need something more substantial — some rice, some potatoes — after a workout.”
Happy Viking is available through the online store or through Amazon.
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