Footballer Calum Ferguson: From Meat-Eater to Vegan Athlete
Calum Ferguson is rewriting the narrative around plant-based diets as a vegan footballer who has previously played for Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Valour FC, and has represented Canada at Youth Level. Calum shares how his decision to switch to a plant-based diet transformed his health and improved his performance.
A New Chapter
Calum's shift towards a plant-based diet came after experiencing multiple injuries and setbacks in his career. "My body was in a terrible place – it was failing me time after time. I’d make a comeback, get injured, in a repeating cycle. That eventually resulted in a back operation to solve this problem, because my career was taking a nosedive, and so was my health,” he said. "The back operation was the turning point for me. It allowed me a lot of time for self-reflection. I viewed it as a ‘comeback’ opportunity – a new chapter."
Open-Mindedness and Self-Reflection
With a newfound determination to regain his fitness and get back into professional football, Calum also became more open-minded about different approaches to diet and health. “I’ll do anything, I’ll take on anything to get back to where I was. I went from a close-minded individual to a very open-minded individual,” he said. During his recovery, he began to reflect on his health and lifestyle choices, which led him to change his diet to remove animal products.
Instant Gains and Benefits
Calum signed for Valour FC in Canada in 2019, where he discovered a different approach to football from what he had experienced in Scotland. With an open mind, he thrived on the new training methods and was exposed to the plant-based diet that some of his teammates had already adopted and had experienced “proper results” from. He slowly faded out red and white meat, then fish, and eventually eggs, fully transitioning to a plant-based, vegan diet over the course of 3-4 months. With the support of his teammates and sports science team, physios, Calum began to see instant gains in his performance both in training and during games. He ran more kilometers and put on more muscle mass, feeling lean, clean, powerful, and energized.
When asked whether he had any worries about making the transition, Calum said: “Of course there was an initial fear, that’s probably what resulted in me gradually transitioning. As an athlete, you worry that if you’re not getting enough protein in your diet then it’s going to negatively affect your career. Most people aren’t as lucky as I was to have that supportive environment around me where I was able to go up and ask: ‘If I’m not eating chicken, where am I getting protein from?’ Now, that sounds like such a silly question, but at the time that was a genuine concern of mine." Calum’s management team and family had concerns about the impact a plant-based diet might have on his performance, but they eventually warmed up to it as they saw the benefits.
Calum's decision to switch to a plant-based diet has inspired many athletes and fans alike to consider the impact of their food choices on the environment, animal welfare, and their own health. As Calum explains, "I’m a totally different person now from when I went into professional football. Now I can totally respect where people come from when they talk about the environment and the damage to animals." Calum hopes to continue to inspire others to adopt a plant-based diet and showcase the benefits of going vegan.
Calum's story shows that going vegan is not only beneficial for one's health and performance but also for the planet and environment