Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville has ditched pork for peas to follow in the footsteps of other sport stars by becoming a vegetarian.
The outgoing Red Devils coach, 37, reluctantly gave into pressure from his wife to ditch all meat and has since been left feeling revitalised.
The six-time Premier League winner will be dusting off his boots in time for a special friendly match against Salford City FC – where he can prove his newfound fitness in front of an expected 12,000-strong crowd.
“My wife’s been vegetarian for about four or five years now,” he said. “I promised her that I would try it for two weeks.
“I started to feel healthier, leaner and great. It has definitely made me feel better and I have read studies that say it will make me live longer.”
Neville, who was a professional footballer for 18 years, prides himself on looking after his body.
“I think people are now understanding the benefits – not just for yourself, but for the environment,” he added.
“More than 2.5million-animals-a-day are being slaughtered – that is a damning statistic that we need to do something about.
“If everyone can even just do one day of not eating meat then that will mean that we live in a better world.”
Neville now knows that athletes can get all the nutrition they need, including protein, from plant-based foods such as quinoa, seeds, soya protein and nuts.
The former United defender, who hung up his boots last year, recognises that he is part of a growing green movement towards plant-based diets as society battles proposed health risks associated with meat-rich food.
Not just on the waistline too – the damage that animal agriculture has on the environment and the suffering endured by animals raised to be slaughtered for food also play their part.
Neville joins a growing list of top ‘no-meat athletes’ including: Olympic cyclist Lizzie Armitstead, strongman Patrik Baboumian, squash world champion James Willstrop and ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll.
Another top-class athlete who has turned his back on meat include former World Heavyweight championship-winning boxer David Haye, who has long-since felt the benefits of being a ‘veggie’.
PETA spokesman Ben Williamson told MM: “Phil Neville is living proof that a healthy plant-based diet provides us with all the protein and nutrients we need – without any of the artery-clogging saturated fats found in animal products.
“Eating vegetables instead of dead animals can boost our energy levels and also help us recover faster from injuries.
“Neville is the latest to join a growing list of top no-meat athletes – including Sports Illustrated Olympian of the Century Carl Lewis.”
One of the most famous plant powered-athletes is retired tennis great Martina Navratilova.
The Czech-born legend, who adopted a vegetarian diet for the majority of her career, won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 31 doubles titles – a record she still holds today.
Image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks