British Olympian Cheavon Clarke is currently at the top of his game. Up until five years ago, the Jamaican-born boxer was a truck driver. Today, he has competed to medal-finishes in the European Boxing Championships and the Commonwealth Games and had a strong showing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
While Clarke attributes his success to not giving up on his goals and a lot of hard work, there’s actually another factor to his success: his vegan diet. He claims that going vegan has enabled him to recover faster and perform better in the ring.
Quitting cold turkey
Clarke has been a vegan since October 2018. As he recalls, he was eating meat one day, and swearing off it and dairy products the next.
Not eating meat was seen as anathema in a sport where the consumption of animal protein, particularly lean beef and chicken. These are seen as integral to improving the physique and stamina of athletes. It mainly helps those in the middleweight and heavyweight categories where size and musculature come into play.
Clarke, however, assures detractors that going vegan has worked very well for him as it has improved his digestion as well as his recovery time.
“There’s not a lot of time between training, resting, eating, [and] training again,” he explains, citing how it took a while for his body to adjust during his meat-eating days. Now, he bounces back much faster.
Leading by example
However, Clarke is not one of those die-hard vegans who relentlessly pushes his way of life towards other people. For him, people are entitled to their opinions and it’s not for him to persuade them to think otherwise.
“I just do what I do and they’ll see the results,” he says. “Then they have to check themselves. I think when you try [to] push things in people’s faces you get the opposite reaction.”
While Clarke knows that going vegan has worked very well for him, he personally believes that diets need to be varied because people’s bodies are different. In addition, their tastes are just as diverse, added Clarke.
He also believes in leading by example rather than diatribe.
“People are more likely to ask ‘Oh, why are you doing that?'” he says. “[And they may] actually try it – and that’s [an] opportunity to show them why it’s good.”
As a way of proving his point, Clarke recently teamed up with US food company Birds Eye for its new Green Cuisine line of products. This vegan selection includes meatless versions of grilled chicken, burgers, sausages, and even meatballs made with fiber- and iron-rich pea protein.
For him, it’s a great way to make the transition to vegan eating tastier and easier.