When Chris Paul went plant-based last summer, he said he felt better, able to recover faster from workouts and can keep up with players who are 19 and 20, even though the "Point God" is now 35 and 2020 is his 15th season (cut short due to COVID-19).

Paul has said he has more ability to workout day after day, recover faster, "not feeling achy" and keep playing. In a red carpet interview with Elysabeth Alfano when the movie came out, Paul reveals that he wanted to keep his new eating a secret, but that at a dinner with Le Bron James and Russ Westbrook at the steak restaurant Carbone, his friends gave him grief about ordering cauliflower..."Once you realize how different it makes your body feels, you want to keep going with it."

It's not for everybody because it's hard at first, Paul admits, but the benefit is that he learned he can workout day after day, not feel achy and stay uninjured. 

“I chose a plant-based life [as of last summer]. So far, so good. Not easy. But for me, it’s working. I started plant-based in June,” he told Men’s Health in January. “I went cold turkey. I tell you: I was itching. I thought I needed a chicken wing or something. But somehow I made it through.”

Chris Paul and LeBron James
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Chris Paul is a Leader and Influencer on and Off the Court.

If you need more basketball in your life and have been watching The Last Dance now you can switch over to Quibi to tune into Blackballed which Chris Paul tells us via Twitter will drop May 18. Paul, who is both plant-based and a leader in the league (as the president of the NBA Player's Association since 2013) is front and center in Blackballed, a documentary recounting the drama during the LA Clipper’s 2014 Playoff Season, when owner Donald Sterling was ultimately banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million by the league after private recordings of him making racist comments were made public.

Ten-time NBA All-Star Player and Most Valuable Player, with two Olympic gold medals, Paul is outspoken and no wallflower. He asserted his power during the five days that culminated with team-lead protests during the playoffs and Sterling’s ultimate demise. Again from his Twitter feed, he recaps a line from the series, “Social Injustice is bigger than basketball.” 

Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz
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Switching to a Plant-Based Diet was a Game Changer for Paul

This month Paul turned 35 and by all accounts, at that age, a player should be thinking about the end of his career. However, the switch to a plant-based diet last June gave Paul a new lease on his professional life and his recent season (now cut short due to the COVID-19) with the Oklahoma City Thunder had him looking better and spryer than ever.  Injuries of the past have faded into a distant memory.

Dedicated to his plant-based diet, Paul became one of the Executive Producers of the ultimate plant-based athlete documentary, The Game Changers. On the Hollywood red carpet for the premiere, last fall, Elysabeth Alfano, host of the Awesome Vegans Influencer Series, caught up with Paul on the red carpet. 

Here is a portion of their conversation, in which Paul begins by explaining how he came to discover and convert to a plant-based diet and the benefits he's felt.

CP: “I tried it, here and there, throughout the season... I’m always trying to look for ways to be better, you know what I mean, to be stronger, or whatnot. I’m in my fifteenth season and (on a plant-based diet) I’m chasing around 20 and 21-year-olds.  So that next day I just went completely plant-based.”

Q: “And you felt a competitive advantage right away?”  

CP: “So the first couple of days I was kind of irritable. (Laughs) You know, what I mean, Seriously I was a little irritable and then ... ”

Q: “Were there withdrawals?”

CP: “Yeah, and think about it: I’ve eaten something with meat and animal product every day for the past 34 years.  So, I was training… and usually, I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or in the morning and I walk and I’m like a little achy, you know, and a couple days [of training hard] went by: Nothing, [no aches]. 

"Another day went by, I didn’t think I was training hard enough. Then it just, I mean, trust me when the season starts, I’m gonna start like cold tubbin’ and icin’ [for soreness] but I haven’t put ice on my knees in the past two and a half weeks.”

Q: “What do your teammates say?”

CP: “You know, I went to dinner with Lebron [James] and Russell Westbrook. We went to Carbone. Have you ever heard of Carbone? It’s in New York. We went to the one in Vegas and obviously that’s a huge steak restaurant, and they didn’t know at the time that I was (plant-based). You know, I’m out with my friends and I got like a cauliflower thing (laughs) and it’s just once you realize how different it makes your body feel, then it makes you want to continue.

CP: My wife and I are fully on board, she's getting there. The biggest thing is we don't force it on anybody. I don't think people have to go cold turkey. My little cousins are trying it a few days a week.

"I almost didn’t want to tell nobody. You know, I almost wanted to keep it a secret, you know, but it’s been that powerful for me but you know, I want to spread the knowledge... And the biggest thing is we want to try to continue to get this knowledge to kids, you know what I mean, in the inner cities and all that, like especially like my family.”

Q: “How did LeBron and Russ react to this diet when you were at dinner with them?”

CP: “Ohhhhh they gave me hell!” 

Q: “Yeah but now they’re going to watch you play!”

CP: It is what it is and I'm not forcing it on anybody. I almost wanted to keep it a secret. But knowledge is important. Kids back home and in the inner city suffer from diabetes and everything. You have to watch the movie because protein comes from things other than meat.

CP: “I’ll tell you one little thing about the movie [The Game Changers] because they say this in the movie, and just marinate on this: What’s one of the strongest animals in the wild? A gorilla. Have you ever seen a gorilla eating meat?” 

Bottom Line: Chris Paul does more than spread his plant-based knowledge.  He also gives back. This month, every week, he is partnering with Beyond Meat and KFC to donate 200 Beyond Meat Fried Chicken meals to the Wake Forest Baptiste Medical Center in support of health-care workers who continue the fight against COVID-19. 

Thanks for spreading the plant-based word, Chris, and for being a champion, leader and role model on and off the court! We’ll be watching you take a stand for social justice when Blackballed airs later this month.

Click here for the full red carpet interview and here for The Game Changers interview. Click here for more Awesome Vegans Influencer Series Interviews. 

Elysabeth Alfano is a plant-based expert for mainstream media, breaking down the plant-based health, food, business and environmental news for the general public on radio and TV.

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