Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin recently credited his new vegan diet with improving his fitness and injury woes. Eager to find where he gets his protein from, I trawled the vegan cafes of Hackney to find London’s newest celebrity herbivore.
Two slices of avocado toast later, I located Hector tucked at the back of a popular cat cafe, dipping Oreos into an almond milk latte. It was clear he didn’t want to meat, but he paused Soy Division on his iPod and kindly agreed to answer a few of my plant-based questions.
HPN: “Hector, you recently turned vegan, what have been the most notable improvements to your health?”
Hector: “Well, actually I’ve been vegan for 14 months now. The problem was I didn’t have the accompanying hairstyle or the silver cross earrings. For the first 10 months, I was one of those untrendy vegans, another Carlos Cuéllar so to speak.”
HPN: “Have you felt any improvements on the pitch?”
Hector: “I have more energy, better concentration and can track runs from opposition players better than before. I’ve tried to get Granit Xhaka to adopt the same diet for these reasons, but he just growls at me as he gnaws on a Toblerone.”
HPN: “How have other teammates responded to your new diet?”
Hector: “Monreal & Koscielny constantly ask “why aren’t you eating meat today” because they just don’t understand. I actually went to Laurent’s for burgers the other night, which he assured me were vegan. Turns out he just didn’t know that beef came from cows. I had a similar problem with Nacho; paella night and seafood.”
“Most players have been accepting of the idea though. Jack Wilshere claims to be a vegan because he has a gluten-free diet which is annoying, but I only notice (see?) him once or twice a season. A few of the lads have started calling Maitland-Niles “Tofu” because he’s my substitute. I found that funny.”
The interview was then disrupted when an alarm chimed from Hector’s phone. He stood up, put on his leather jacket, shook my hand and left. I finished off his latte, headed outside and saw him scratching his head at the side of the road.
It’s a shame his new diet couldn’t improve his crossing too.