At the start of the 2018/19 season, goalkeeper Declan Rudd announced that he was one of a growing number of sport stars who had made a radical change to their diet in order to improve their game.
The Preston North End shot-stopper began the season by removing meat, fish and dairy from his diet – a change made on the recommendation of a close personal friend who had been recommending the lifestyle for a number of years.
Speaking to the Lancashire Post, Rudd recalled his first foray into veganism came when he offered to help out his friend with their new business – a vegan restaurant in Norwich.
As soon as it opened I was sold by the whole thing. I realised what type of food you can eat and I then did a lot of research into how it helps the body and what the benefits of it are. I haven’t looked back since to be honest and have been fully vegan since May. I didn’t want to do it during the season because I didn’t want to change my diet like that in case things didn’t work.
Since that point, Rudd has found that not only did his new plant-based diet “work out” but actually improved his performance even if not all of his team-mates were on board with the plans.
I tried it out over the summer and felt really good and have kept it going. I get a bit of stick about it, which is usual in a dressing room. Everyone understands here but I think they just enjoy eating meat! That’s exactly how I was and people say it’s a big effort and it’s a lot of work to be a vegan but once you know what you can eat then it’s easy really.
Rudd speaks passionately about the benefits, stating that:
Health-wise I can’t see why people wouldn’t do it. It reduces inflammation in the body so helps you recover quicker after exercise….. With plant-based foods the body can break it down straight away and get what it needs, which means you’re getting what you need to your body quicker. If you’re eating meat, with a steak for example, it can take days for your body to digest. There are a lot of benefits and I’ve definitely felt the difference over the last few months.
Rudd also notes that he’s far from the only active vegan footballer, naming Jermain Defoe and Hector Bellerin as examples of other soccer stars performing at an elite level and thriving on a plant-based diet.
In 2019, Rudd recorded a video for Veganuary on the topic of being a vegan footballer.