• NFL star Cam Newton is repping his vegan lifestyle with a new PETA ad campaign. 
  • He said that even as an elite athlete he doesn’t need animal products to get enough protein and nutrients to perform well and build muscle. 
  • Newton credits the plant-based diet with boosting his health, although critics speculate whether it has slowed his recovery and performance. 
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NFL star Cam Newton, has been vegan since March of 2019, when he started a meat-free lifestyle to help his body recover from injuries

Just over a year later, Newton says the dietary shift became permanent, and has boosted his health, including during the strenuous recovery from a 2018 shoulder injury that required surgery.

“I’ve seen such a remarkable change in the way my body responds to the food that I eat,” Newton, quarterback for the New England Patriots and former 2015 MVP with the Carolina Panthers, said in an interview with animal rights organization PETA, for a new “Built like a Vegan” ad campaign released July 20. 

Initially, the football star’s vegan conversion was somewhat controversial, with some commentators speculating that it may have slowed his recovery, affected his performance, and made him more injury-prone. Following his diet switch, Newton had a rough start to the 2019 season, although he later explained he was dealing with a foot injury.

Prior to going fully vegan, Newton was a pescatarian, avoiding red meat but eating fish, shrimp and other animal products. 

Cam Newton



Patrick Smith/Getty


Many pro athletes get all their protein from plants, including Venus Williams, Alex Morgan, and Colin Kaepernick

In the ad, Newton said people often ask how he gets enough protein and nutrients on a plant-based diet. He said he hasn’t found it difficult to find healthy sources of nutrients without animal products.

Newton is among a long roster of other high-profile star athletes that swear by a plant-based diet, including tennis legend Venus Williams, US women’s national team soccer star Alex Morgan, NBA player Kyrie Irving, UFC fighter Nate Diaz, and fellow NFLers like Colin Kaepernick, Griff Whalen, and Tom Brady (who is primarily plant-based, though not strictly vegan). 

“Some of the strongest species on this earth are vegetarian,” Newton said in a video blog from 2019, documenting his first month as a vegan. “When you look at gorillas, when you look at elephants, they find their source of protein in plants and I do the same thing. I’m loving how I’m feeling.” 

Newton also shared a recipe for his favorite meat-free burger on a pretzel bun, heavy on pickles and sauce. 

“I don’t want people to think you can’t love food being vegan or there’s not good tasting food that’s vegan,” Newton said. 

For people newly vegan or considering making the shift to a plant-based diet, Newton said: “Eat on schedule. If you can eat on schedule you won’t miss or think anything different, and you’ll be alright.”

Read more:

Vegans may have better aerobic endurance than omnivores, and are just as strong, according to new research

A mostly vegan diet may lower your blood pressure, even if you occasionally eat meat and dairy

Why vegans and meat-eaters can’t stop trolling each other

NFL’s Cam Newton says he has been vegan for a year, and feels stronger

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