Soccer Player Goes Vegan to Vie for World Cup

England’s Jermain Defoe ditches animal products to extend his athletic abilities.


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Premier League club Sunderland and English national team’s striker Jermain Defoe recently announced his plan to eschew animal products from his diet. The 34-year-old soccer player made a comeback to the sport after a three year absence, scoring the first goal to help the English national beat Lithuania last weekend. “I have a better understanding of my body now,” Defoe said. “Everyone wants to feel fresh in the game. There’s no better feeling. So I’m just making sure I’m doing the right things—cryotherapy, massage, eating the right things—trying to turn vegan.” Defoe hopes his plant-based diet will help land him in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, an opportunity he missed during the 2014 tournament in Brazil. “It was my girlfriend’s idea,” Defoe said, “She’s always showing me these documentaries … it’s always nice to have someone around you to who helps you and drives you on and wants you to do well.” A host of athletes have turned to a plant-based diet for both ethical reasons and in order to achieve optimal athletic performance—including surfer Tia Blanco, ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, and boxer David Haye.