Oklahoma State University's Cade Cunningham is this year's NBA top draft pick, going first overall after the Detroit Pistons drafted him. The rising athlete spoke with ESPN about what he does to maximize his athletic ability, revealing that he went vegan in high school to experiment with how this dietary change would impact his performance. Initially, Cunningham decided to adopt the plant-based diet as a test, but the positive results inspired him to make the change permanent.

“I think, bigger than anything, I just wanted to try something new for my body and see how my body reacted to it,” he said. “So, once I tried it, I did it for two weeks,” Cunningham said, explaining how he ate at McDonald’s during the 2019 FIBA World Cup and then realized he couldn’t eat animal products again. “We weren’t accustomed to the food that we had out there. So, I started back eating burgers and things, [but] on that trip, I told myself, ‘I’m going back to vegan, and I’m sticking to it.’”

Cunningham decided to take his veganism to the next step: After years of plant-based eating, the basketball star is sponsoring JUST Egg’s mung bean-based vegan egg replacement. The new NBA athlete is promoting a plant-based menu item using the JUST Egg Folded at Detroit’s famous FOLK Cafe. The “Cade Stack” will debut at the restaurant’s Corktown location this August. The limited-time offer will feature the JUST Egg Folded topped with shakshuka cheese sauce, Rosemary potato chips, greens, lettuce leaf basil, and served on a plant-based Zingerman’s country bread.

Cunningham is not the first superstar athlete to announce their vegan diet, citing that the plant-based shift helps enhance performance rather than limit it. Kyrie Irving also adopts a plant-based diet in 2017 during his time playing for the Boston Celtics. He claims at the time that he could attribute the team’s 13-game winning streak to his plant-based. The Celtics player also became an ambassador for Beyond Meat, spearheading the “Go Beyond” campaign.

This year, Brooklyn Nets player DeAndre Jordan debuted his vegan cooking show, Cooking Clean, airing on PlayerTV. The vegan athlete chose to drop animal products to improve his nutritional intake, enhance his playing ability, and reduce his environmental impact. Jordan is a vocal advocate for the benefits of veganism for the individual and the planet.

Recently, JaVale McGee partnered with vegan company Outstanding Foods for its #HellaHotChallenge campaign. The campaign challenged fans to eat the spicy Hella Hot Oustanding Puffs without reaching for water or flinching. The Denver Nuggets star went vegan in 2016 to help his athletic ability and improve his health. The partnership also highlighted McGee’s JUGLIFE organization that helps bring clean water to communities suffering from water shortages.

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