NFL star David Carter now champions a meat-free diet. (Photo: Paige Carter)
When defensive lineman David Carter gathers friends to watch Super Bowl 50 this weekend, the NFL star plans to put out a mouth-watering spread of classic game-day grub — loaded nachos, jalapeño poppers, grilled sliders, the works.
There’s just one thing: It’s all vegan.
Standing 6′5″ and weighing 300 pounds, the Chicago Bears recruit is a stark contrast to what many envision when they think of a plant-based diet. But since ditching animal products three years ago, Carter said his health, and his life, has never been better.
“I’ve gone from an athlete to an educator, that’s been the biggest change,” Carter told Yahoo Food. “I went from being just a football player to giving speeches all across the country — and in other countries! — opening up people’s eyes to how good a vegan diet can be.”
Growing up with an grandfather who ran a BBQ restaurant in Los Angeles, Carter is the first person to say he never imagined someday trading ribs and wings for cashew cheese and beans. But after suffering several football injuries — including tendonitis, nerve damage and chronic muscle fatigue — the defensive end concluded that the protein-heavy diet prescribed by his trainers and coaches was a culprit.
“The average life span of a professional football player is only 56,” wrote Carter on his personal website, The 300 Pound Vegan. “[This is] due to extreme consumption of animal products which leads to heart disease, stroke, cancers, and other chronic illnesses…”
Carter says his vegan lifestyle has boosted his energy. (Photo: Paige Carter)
Surprisingly, giving up grilled steaks hasn’t been as hard as one might expect, he said.
“People have no idea what vegan food is,” Carter told Yahoo Food. “They think it’s salad or equate it with something nasty.”
The funny thing is, the athlete added, many popular foods are already vegan or can be made meat- and dairy-free with simple switches. That’s exactly what he hopes his guests will discover when they come over to watch the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“You just have to be creative and manipulate the food,” he said. “So we’ll make a vegan slider. It will probably include some Gardein patties, coconut bacon, and Just Mayo has this great, spicy sriracha mayo — I’ll doctor up that recipe a little bit but it’s going to be good.”
For repeat snack attacks, the sportsman has another homemade power move ready.
“There will definitely be a large platter of Jackfruit Not-chos,” said Carter of his Super Bowl 50 menu. “The only thing you have to substitute is the cheese for vegan cheese. Everything else — beans, guac, olives, tomato—all that stuff is vegan.”
His recipe includes tortilla chips loaded with avocado, jalapeño slices, black beans, diced onions, cilantro, black olives, diced tomatoes and sliced jack fruit standing in for meat crumbles. The tower is then drizzled with melty, blended cashew “cheese.”
“Cashew cheese tastes just like regular queso,” promised Carter. “I’ve fed it to ex marines and even they were like, ‘I wouldn’t have known this was vegan!’”
Now that’s what you call a crafty play.