If Jahlil Okafor looks more svelte, moves more quickly when he finally steps on the court for the Nets, blame it on the vegetables.
As Okafor discussed a few days ago, he adopted a vegan diet while recovering from a knee injury suffered late last season in Philadelphia with the Sixers.
“I took a vegan diet. I’m on a vegan diet now. I started that this past summer,” he told a media scrum Monday. “The reason I did it is just health benefits. My knee was swelling up a lot and I couldn’t really get my knee to 100 percent, so I tried cutting out dairy and the swelling went down and I went full-fledged on it and I feel great.
“It’s something I’m going to keep doing,” he continued. “The knee’s great. I haven’t had any issues with the knee. There’s no swelling, I think it’s all due to me taking care of myself and obviously the diet.”
Now, Okafor has become a zealot for the cause. In a video released by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Okafor talks with two-time NBA Champion, John Salley, a longtime vegan, about the benefits of a vegan diet. It’s a lifestyle picked up by many NBA players, including Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Victor Oladipo, and Okafor’s fellow Net Spencer Dinwiddie.
"I just kept getting hurt. My knee was always inflamed – I cut out dairy, watched a few documentaries. Then I cut out steak, cut out chicken, and gradually started cutting out everything animal-based," begins Okafor, wearing a t-shirt reading, “Never be Silent, Find Your Voice for Animals.” He says that his game has never been better. "I'm just a lot faster, quicker. Pressure is off my knees."
When he arrived at the HSS Training Center after the trade, Okafor says he clocked in at 255-pounds, down from the 275 he played at in his first two seasons. . He’s even trying to convert his teammates to the benefits of vegan eating.
"I'm just trying to educate them, and they've been able to see the changes I've made in just three or four months of being vegan,” he said. “The documentary called What the Health was one of the things that helped me become vegan. But most of the guys are … afraid of the truth."