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Vegan diet is helping me on and off the pitch, says Bellerin

16:53 BST 29/03/2018
Hector Bellerin
The Spain international says that his new plant based diet is paying dividends, helping him to recover quicker from tough games

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin believes that his new vegan diet is helping him on and off the pitch.

The 23-year-old changed his dietary habits at the start of the season and has already noticed improvements in his post-match recovery.

Bellerin, speaking to The Players Tribune, revealed that he no longer has to strap up his ankles to play and feels more energetic since adopting the plant-based diet.

“I’ve been vegan since the beginning of the season more or less,” he said. “At the beginning I wanted to try it for a couple of weeks to detox my body and stuff, but I just felt so great after it that I’ve been doing it for six months now.

“For me the most important thing is that inflammation in my body after games and the speed that my body recovers compared to before. I’ve always had little problems in my ankles when I played very hard games, they’d get very inflamed and stiff. “Now I don’t even have to strap them to play anymore. It doesn’t just make a difference in your body but I strongly believe that with what we’re doing to the earth paying back the earth too.

“Getting rid of all the food I was eating and going to this plant based diet it did take those few days to actually feel better, but when it got to the beginning of the third week I felt so good.

"I was waking up in the mornings and had so much energy whereas before I used to be that person who would snooze the alarm five times before they got out of bed.”

The former Barcelona youngster admitted that his Arsenal team-mates poke fun at the diet by trying to put meat on his plate in the training ground canteen.

However, the Spaniard sees the funny side of the ribbing and hopes that he can inspire a new wave of vegans in the coming weeks and months.

“As a professional athlete you have to be technical with what you eat. You have to make sure your intakes are on point every day. 

“Players like Nacho Monreal and even [Laurent] Koscielny are always telling me ‘where is the meat on your plate?’ and ‘why aren’t you eating meat today?’. They always try and put meat on my plate and stuff like this - it’s all fun and it’s all good.

"This is a way for people to see that you can be an athlete and do it, and that can open doors for other people."