In the first of our founder’s monthly columns, Mathieu Flamini explains what a career spent exposed to the world’s best trainers, doctors and nutritionists has taught him.
Today you have more and more people who are vegan
I think we’re getting to the point where people are trying to change the way they eat. I don’t think people are laughing any more. I think they’re interested to understand what this lifestyle can give you. And in a few years I can tell you, people will have realised that it can improve your health and lifespan and people will switch even quicker.
Why risk sacrificing your health for animal protein at every meal?
Why not reduce the amount of meat you have in order to have advantages for you and the environment? It’s not necessary to go completely black and white. Just by reducing animal protein in your diet you’re already doing a lot of good to yourself.
Eating meat was slowing down my recovery
When you play at a high level and train for hours, you generate a high level of lactic acid. In order for your body to get rid of this it needs alkaline, and that means eating fruit and vegetables to clean your body. It means you will recover faster and your muscles won’t be as sore.
When I was playing I decided to get rid of red meat. I was training constantly and playing every three days and I was constantly in need of recovery. Eating red meat would increase the acidity in my body and make it even more difficult for me to recover .
Going vegan was not a snap decision
To be honest with you I didn’t go vegan overnight. It has been a process. Medical staff at the clubs I played at advised me to eat less red meat and I was always very aware of the poor quality of chicken. I think the way it’s farmed is unbearable so I don’t eat it.
I was eating a lot of fish instead and I asked the club doctors to check my mercury levels. They found my levels were 10 times what they should have been. I was intoxicating myself.
I decided to stop eating fish and I started becoming a vegan.
We’ve sacrificed quality for price
Meat is farmed on an industrial scale which obviously brought the price down, but it also changed the way we eat.
People eat meat and fish every day but the reality is the quality is extremely bad and the human body is not designed to have fish and meat every single day. I’d rather eat good quality meat once or twice a week.
I still get everything I need from a vegan diet
The reality is that you can enough protein from vegan nutrition. Maybe the body adapts, but I eat a large quantity. When I have a salad it’s a large salad. I like to eat in bowls, not plates, so big bowls of salad and then quinoa, rice, broccoli. Tofu also. All of these are high protein.
It wasn’t very exciting to be a vegan years ago.
Slowly, slowly other players began reducing their meat consumption because they understood that when you train and perform so regularly you have to improve your recovery. Now you have other athletes like Djokovic, Tom Brady and Messi who are vegan or switch to vegan diets to speed up their recovery.
You can’t have a healthy lifestyle without a healthy environment.
I think ten years ago if you were someone trying to promote a sustainable lifestyle you were accused of being a hippy. But today? Everyone is trying to lead a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.
You have a generation of kids in the streets trying to create awareness around the problem of climate change. So if you tell one of these kids that one of the biggest causes of pollution is dairy farming, do you think that these kids will laugh at you? There’s nothing hippy about wanting a healthier lifestyle and planet.