What exactly does it take to go from being a young phenom at Duke University to an NBA lottery pick, to making the championship-clinching shot in Game 7, to being the focal point of one of the most storied franchises in The Association?
For Kyrie Irving, it’s simple–a plant-based diet.
In an effort to look and feel more like the superstar that he is and less like a younger version of his alter ego, Uncle Drew (admittedly, I wouldn’t mind looking like Uncle Drew on the court), Kyrie has turned to Beyond Meat, a company that provides foods with proteins which are difficult to find in many vegan or vegetarian diets.
The six-time All-Star has been vocal about his reduced meat intake and the positive impact it has had on his performance:
“Beyond Meat is the best thing that I could be a part of and it only helps me better perform as an athlete. I wasn’t always the tallest or most gifted athlete, I had to work on it and in the process of working on my craft, it meant going beyond what everyone else was doing – breaking free of the mold to go beyond what was expected of me.”
Starting out as a consumer of the product and then becoming an investor, Kyrie is now a full-fledged brand ambassador for Beyond Meat, recently coming out with his own one-minute spot promoting his diet as a huge contributor to his success in the league.
Irving isn’t the only athlete to join the vegan movement. Among some of Hollywood’s elite and music industry titans, other NBA players and former stars to invest in the burgeoning business include JJ Redick, DeAndre Jordan, Harrison Barnes, Eric Bledsoe, Victor Oladipo, Chris Paul, and the fan-favorite Shaquille O’Neal.
This isn’t the first time the former Rookie of the Year has gone public with his decision to turn vegan. A 2017 commercial for Nike features New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski marveling at Irving’s ball handling skills, asking “How’d you do that?” to which Kyrie responds, “Simple. Plant-based diet.”
After a 2017 Bleacher Report article detailed his newfound diet, Beyond Meat reached out to him to start discussing a partnership. It couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Kyrie himself.
“It was good timing as I was struggling to find quality plant-based foods that still had a lot of flavor. After I tried their products, I knew immediately that this was a company I wanted to be involved with.”
Beyond Meat has taken advantage of the small-ball trend in the NBA, which features smaller, quicker, and craftier players over the course of the past few years–three characteristics Kyrie has shaped his game around. Adapting a vegan diet and partnering with Beyond Meat has allowed him to fully embrace the new style of play so many teams are favoring.
Keep an eye out for the skinnier, leaner, and meaner Kyrie Irving in the playoffs, spearheading a whole new generation of plant-fueled athletes looking to capitalize on up-and-coming companies like Beyond Meat that can supply them with the stamina and bounce they need to outlast opponents on the court.
About Author: Ryan Cassirer is an avid sports junkie with a passion for writing. Catch him at any local craft brewery or at the Prudential Center on nights his Devils are playing.
Kyrie isn’t the only player making a difference off the court, for more articles about your favorite athletes and their endeavors check out Recess Sports Business.