Cody talks about how shifting to a vegan diet has NOT affected his performance as an athlete
I got in touch with Cody after being curious and excited about the fact that he is a vegan athlete. You'll see below that he's been through some extensive training and participated in a number of different sports. He's continued all of this after shifting to a vegan diet and he's noticed some unexpected positive changes in his health too! This is just another example reinforcing that eating vegan isn't a hindrance!
What your diet was before going vegan?
I was actually raised for most of my childhood as a vegetarian, however around the age of 8 or 9 my mother started introducing both red and white meat into my diet. I was in elite level sports (Aussie Rules, Athletics) for most of my teenage years and so I developed a fairly heavy reliance on red meat and dairy. There was rarely a meal that did not include some sort of meat and during my adult years when I was preparing my own food, I consumed a LOT of chicken. In general I moved away from red meat unless it was a special occasion like a BBQ or going to a Steakhouse for dinner.
Did you play sports when before you ate vegan?
I have played competitive sports since I was 6 or 7 and it had contributed substantially to my ideas on how I should fuel myself. During the years that I was an elite junior or semi-professional athlete, our dieticians were big on our meat and dairy consumption and recommended how many servings we should have per day, pre-training, pre-game etc. It was all mapped out for us and there was little flexibility. There was no customisation unless one of the athletes was on a weight-loss or weight-gain program.
Why did you shift to a vegan diet?
My girlfriend and I started to move slowly towards vegetarianism and ultimately veganism after watching the documentary called Vegucated, which shines the spotlight on factory farming practices.
At first, I was sceptical that we could do it, very sceptical, and I wouldn't say I was overly willing to give up my meat eating habits.
Did shifting to a vegan diet help your performance or hinder it or neither?
There was a feeling out process, that's for sure; to make sure what I was eating was adequate for the sport I was playing or the exercise I was doing. Aussie Rules is a very demanding on the body and diet is an essential piece of the puzzle, but once I found my groove there was no change in my output.
Now that I know how my body reacts, I can get up at 6 a.m. and go to the gym for a heavy workout without any ill-effects, and I have played two years of Aussie Rules exclusively as a vegan. I'm running a lot further than I used to (generally around 10km) and haven't found myself light-headed or short of energy.
Have you discovered any unexpected bonuses from shifting to a vegan diet?
I haven't monitored my weight since I was 22 or 23, but I am the lightest I've been in roughly 10 years.
I have also found that I don't get sick as often as I used to! Less colds and flu!
Furthermore, I have suffered with cold-sores for a long time and they have subsided significantly since I went vegan.
Do you think being vegan causes a hindrance?
For the average sportsman or someone who is exercising to stay fit, once you've found your equilibrium there should be no reason why you can't do everything you did before while on a vegan diet. In fact, some of the most famous vegan athletes are endurance athletes and body-builders.
I have always seen the benefits of being vegan, but I never thought I could have a plant-based diet and keep weight on for football. One night my wife and I were watching Forks Over Knives and I realized that all the effort I was putting in to get big and strong for football was actually killing me. After being vegan for only two months I can honestly say that being vegan is not the only most efficient way to be full body strong, it’s also the most humane; everyone wins.
- David Carter | Defensive Lineman for the Oakland Raiders