Boneless Brawn Part I - CP3
“A series on professional athletes that have gone vegan in the pursuit of peak physical and mental performance”
There are many reasons to go vegan. Anecdotally, most vegans choose to abstain from flesh for one of three reasons: for their health, for the environment or for the welfare of animals. A slept-on but growing trend is becoming vegan for athletic advantage.
Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul nicknamed "CP3", has had an illustrious career. He is an 11x All-Star, 9x All-NBA and 9x All-Defense. He is also a recently converted vegan as of 2019. Why the change?
The 2018 Houston Rockets, which Paul co-anchored, were one win away from slaying arguably the greatest collection of talent of all-time, the 2018 Golden State Warriors.
With the series tied 2-2 and the Rockets up 95-94 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, Paul suffered a hamstring injury. It was not Paul’s first injury in a playoff series. But it was the costliest. He was out for the remainder of the series.
The Rockets won Game 5 98-94. They lost Games 6 and 7, thus the series 3-4. They are considered one of the best teams ever to not win a championship.
So close to a ring, the 2019 Rockets decided to run it back. But once again Paul was hurt and missed 17 games. He would play his second-lowest games in a season (58) and shooting a career-worst, 41.9 % from the field.
Paul relies on a deceptively athletic game. The 2019 season saw those advantages sapped. At 34-years old Paul was looking at the descent of his career. He was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder after the season, a team looking to tank and rebuild for the future.
The Thunder’s timeline did not fit into Paul’s narrative. He sought changes to help flip the script. This included shifting to a completely plant-based diet. And...
Paul rebounded. He played 70 games and was named an all-star during the 2020 season. Both had not happened since 2015 when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers. Statistically, his scoring shot back up to 17.6 ppg and he shot his second-best FG% ever at 48.9.
The Thunder snagged the 5th seed in the West and scrappily fought their first-round matchup, the Rockets, before losing Game 7.
Paul's resurgence went beyond the stat sheet. He was more active on the court than ever. This alley he caught in the 2020 All-Star Game can attest to his bounciness. A fresher serving for the blasphemous.
According to Paul his ability to recover was boosted by swearing off meat.
“I think the biggest change for me is the aches and pains of the season. I started working out and training and I got to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and I thought, am I not lifting hard enough? Am I not training hard enough? Why am I not achy? I ain’t trying to say you have to stay with it, but give it a try.”
But how did Paul arrive at veganism?
The film debates the merits of plant-based eating vs a carnivorous diet for athletes. For Paul personally, the results speak for themselves.
On a typical day, Paul's diet will consist of: oatmeal for breakfast, pasta/rice with beyond sausage and veggies for lunch, fish (plant-based) with soup or Hawaiian Loco Moco with a Beyond burger on top.
This season Paul's Suns are the 2nd seed in the West. He has played 59 out of 60 games, was named an all-star and is shooting a career-best 93.1% from the free-throw line.
He recently partnered with goPuff, an online marketplace, to bolster their plant-based lineup. In conjunction with goPuff, he is bringing attention to black and brown-owned businesses that offer vegan options. Visiting teams playing the Suns receive plant-based snacks from goPuff.
Paul is also an ambassador for Beyond Meat along with fellow NBA players Kyrie Irving and Deandre Jordan.