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This 300-Pound Football Player Runs on a Vegan Diet


Eating vegan gets a lot of attention as a way to cleanse or lose weight, and I think that this method for promoting veganism isn’t always helpful. It focuses on veganism as a crash diet, rather than a lifestyle choice. That’s why I was thrilled to run across the amazing story of defensive lineman David Carter who went vegan to improve his health—and stayed vegan because he’s never felt better. Carter was trying to reach a weight goal of 300 pounds. At 285 pounds, he was eating massive amounts of dairy products to up his weight, and he felt terrible. In a GQ interview, he described a life of chronic, debilitating pain from tendinitis that at first he blamed on his day job. When Carter learned that dairy can sometimes exacerbate tendinitis, he decided to give eating vegan a try. He told GQ: “I realized I was making everything worse. I was feeding the tendinitis, the muscle fatigue, everything. So the next day I went vegan. The first thing I ate was a bean burger and haven’t eaten meat since.”

David Carter, The 300 Pound Vegan

image via Instagram

When he first went vegan, he lost weight, so he adopted a strict weight gain eating plan to get him to reach his 300 pound goal. Carter was able to gain back the 40 pounds he lost plus that last 15 pounds on a plant-based diet.

Surprisingly, green smoothies seem to be his weight gain secret. Rather than use them as meal replacers, Carter drinks protein-rich 20 ounce green smoothies between meals every day, racking up a whopping 10,000 calories during what he calls “Operation Weight Gain.”

He says that white beans and sunflower seeds are his go-tos for protein along with whole grains and other beans, seeds, and nuts. Check out his sample weight gain meal plan:

300 Pound Vegan David Carter's Sample Meal Plan

via Vibrant Wellness Journal

Since going vegan, Carter says that he’s never felt better. Within just a couple of months, his joint pain evaporated. He’s able to lift more and run faster, and he has less body fat—meaning more muscle—than before going vegan.

Of course, most people on a vegan diet aren’t trying to hit a 300 pound weight goal. This extreme constant eating isn’t necessary for the average person on a vegan diet. Athletes have very different calorie requirements than someone who works a desk job, even if you are a regular exerciser.

Carter went vegan for the health benefits, but he’s stayed for the animals. Like a lot of people—including me—who go vegan for health reasons, animal rights have become as important to him as his own health.

David Carter speaking at the Humane Society's Food Forward event. via Instagram

David Carter speaking at the Humane Society’s Food Forward event. via Instagram

David Carter uses his clout as an NFL player to show that eating vegan doesn’t have to mean feeling deprived. He’s worked with animal advocacy groups like the Humane Society and Compassion Over Killing. His Instagram account—@the300poundvegan—is peppered with animal rights facts, and he says he loves proving to people that vegans come in all shapes and sizes.


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