Justin Fields avoids cheese, but that doesn’t mean he avoids pizza.
As a first-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears, Fields is preparing to start his NFL career in one of America’s biggest pizza cities. But the only pizza he’ll be biting into is one with vegan cheese and plant-based crust.
He’s held those tastes since switching to a plant-based diet in May 2020.
“During the middle of the pandemic, I went back home to Georgia, and my family wanted to try a plant-based 28-day detox,” Fields told Insider. “After the 28-day period, I liked the results that it gave me physically but also internally and how it felt inside.”
As one of Chicago’s newest sports stars, Fields hopes to someday share his tastes with the locals by opening his own vegan pizza place.
“You rarely see famous Chicago pizza restaurants that have vegan cheese on it,” Fields said. “I hope so one day [to open my own vegan pizza shop]. That would be awesome. We would definitely create more knowledge to other people that think vegan stuff is nasty. So if I were able to do that, we could get the word out, and people would try it, and more people would think about going vegan or plant-based.”
Another way Fields hopes to share his new eating patterns with others is by partnering with the online plant-based food marketplace PlantX, which will soon feature a new section that allows Fields to share his favorite foods.
“I see a lot of value in PlantX being a one-stop shop for everything plant-based,” Fields said. “A lot of people think being vegan is much harder than it actually is, but PlantX makes it easy for everyone to access healthy alternatives (and some of my personal favorites).”
Plant-based diets are known to come with a variety of health benefits
A plant-based diet, also known as plant-forward eating patterns, focuses on making plant products the central part of one’s meals. The diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and whole grains while limiting meat, dairy, and refined grains.
Fields took the diet into his final college football season at Ohio State University in August 2020 and gave the football team’s nutritionist Kaila Olson a brand new shopping list.
“Plant-based burgers are the most common for me at different restaurants,” Fields said. “Every now and then, I’ll have some falafel or vegan chicken nuggets.”
“I usually go to smoothie king and get a vegan smoothie there with angel fruit and plant-based protein,” he added.
As a professional athlete, Fields’ physical durability is critical to his job performance and professional value.
Fields broke multiple ribs and partially tore his iliacus muscle during a College Football Playoff game against Clemson University in January, but played through the injuries and was even ready for the championship game two weeks later against the University of Alabama.
“Being plant-based speeds up the healing process,” Fields said. “Science proves that being plant-based and eating those things heals your body faster and helps your body recover.”
Nutrients from plant-based diets contribute to several factors weigh into injury prevention, including improved blood flow and glycogen storage while reducing inflammation, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. It’s also shown to offer cardiovascular advantages and result in a more ideal body mass index.
“My job is to invest in my body,” Fields said. “Keeping your body healthy is the number one thing. If your body isn’t healthy, then you’re not getting the full potential out of yourself.”
One of the other results that has stood out the most for Fields is the absence of constipation issues before the switch.
“Before I moved to plant-based, I would kind of be a little bit constipated,” Fields said. “I didn’t take a number two as often as I do now.”
The diet helped Fields beat his constipation issues because plant-based foods are richer in soluble fiber, allowing more water into the digestive process than meats and proteins. A study by Clinical Nutrition Research shows that people on plant-based diets are 87% less likely to be constipated.