Exclusive Declan Rudd Preston North End column: Why I've gone vegan

One thing that's new for me this season is that I'm now vegan. I don't eat or drink any animal products which means no meat and no dairy.

Friday, 24th August 2018, 5:00 pm
Warming-up before the game at Swansea City

One of my best mates has been vegan for a good number of years and he’s always tried pushing it on me, telling me the benefits and how good it would be for me.

I just used to laugh it off and tell him to be quiet.

He came to me a year or so ago about opening a vegan restaurant in Norwich and I wasn’t too keen at first but ended up thinking it would be good to help a mate out with the business.

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As soon as it opened I was sold by the whole thing.

I realised what type of food you can eat and I then did a lot of research into how it helps the body and what the benefits of it are.

I haven’t looked back since to be honest and have been fully vegan since May.

I didn’t want to do it during the season because I didn’t want to change my diet like that in case things didn’t work.

I tried it out over the summer and felt really good and have kept it going.

Tom Little our fitness coach is one of the most knowledgeable people around and he knows absolutely everything about nutrition and performance.

I spoke to him and he had no problem with it all and I spoke to the chefs who hadn’t done any vegan food but looked it into and now provide really good lunches.

They have it all ready for me so it’s easy.

I’m the only player at the club who is vegan but people do dive into the vegan option at lunchtime sometimes.

I get a bit of stick about it, which is usual in a dressing room. Everyone understands here but I think they just enjoy eating meat!

That’s exactly how I was and people say it’s a big effort and it’s a lot of work to be a vegan but once you know what you can eat then it’s easy really.

Health-wise I can’t see why people wouldn’t do it.

It reduces inflammation in the body so helps you recover quicker after exercise and your body also isn’t using as much energy to break things down.

With plant-based foods the body can break it down straight away and get what it needs, which means you’re getting what you need to your body quicker.

If you’re eating meat, with a steak for example, it can take days for your body to digest.

There are a lot of benefits and I’ve definitely felt the difference over the last few months.

There are a lot more vegan footballers than you would think.

There’s Jermaine Defoe, Hector Bellerin at Arsenal and a few others too.

Loads of celebrities and big names away from football are too, people like Will.i.am, and you see people turning vegan all the time.

The restaurant which started it all is doing well.

It’s called Erpingham House and is in an old three-storey building in Norwich. It’s been in The Times in the top 20 vegetarian restaurants in the UK.

It has started well but I don’t have much to do with the day-to-day running as I’m five or six hours away.

I’ve obviously got to concentrate on what’s going on with football too.

Derby County are next up for us in what is a really busy schedule.

Games in the Championship come thick and fast, that’s what the division is all about, especially at this time of year. We’re still in the League Cup too which is a good thing and gives us another game to go and try and achieve something.

It’s good and after the Bolton game in a week or so we’ve got the international break.

We can put everything into the next few games and really give it a go.

You know that you’ve got that bit of a window coming up where you can have some downtime, as long as you give it your all in the next few games.

With the kind of squad we’ve got here I can’t see that being an issue at all.

We put everything into every game we go into and everyone works as hard as they can.

It’s an important spell for us because we can really put a marker down and show everyone what we want to 
do.

Our cause is really helped by the strength in depth we’ve got.

We’ve got someone to come in, in every position.

It’s an important thing to have, no one rests at all and takes it for granted that they are going to be playing every week.

It’s a good mentality to have around the place and something that should really help us over the course of the season.