Interview with Charity Morgan, Vegan Chef to the NFL

Chef Charity Morgan

Chef Charity Morgan is the wife of NFL Tennessee Titans player, Derrick Morgan. She holds a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and is extremely passionate about health, nutrition and providing a more panoramic view of what it means to live a plant-based lifestyle.  Here we get her insights on what it’s like to cook plant-based for NFL players.

How many of the Titans are currently on a plant-based diet?
Last season it got up to 13 players consistently, but would be 16 on Burger day :)

How did it all start?
My husband Derrick went Vegan as another step to further his career and performance. He heard it was good for a list of things and decided to try it. His intention was to try it for a few weeks. After he loved the way he felt there was no way he could go back. He’s now been vegan for slightly over a year. I started making vegan meals for him when he decided to go plant-based and then other players would see and smell the food and quickly wanted in on it.

What results/benefits have they seen by going on a plant based diet?
Less fatigue and more energy (the guys didn’t have the urge to sleep after meals), better recovery/less inflammation, no bloating after eating, mental clarity on and off the field, and better sleep.

How do you provide enough calories for such big guys on a plant based diet? How many calories does an NFL player require per day?
About 3500-5000 calories a day. The higher number during training camp when they work out extensively. Calories are never a problem. I make very hearty meals. I’ve actually had complaints that I give them too much food sometimes.

Chef Charity Morgan vegan dishes

What is a typical breakfast?
Breakfast burritos, chickpea scramble, cheeze grits, breakfast tacos, French toast, protein pancakes — you name it…

What are examples of some favorite dishes?
My favorite dish is the dish I haven’t made yet. However the guys love Mac & Cheese, Philly Cheeze steak and ‘egg’ rolls. It depends but each guy likes different things. Burger day is the popular day for the guys.

What are some of your favorite high protein sources on a plant based diet?
Kale and lentils are excellent, adding beans like chickpeas and black beans in about every recipe is an added bonus.

How do you transition people to the vegan diet?
I ask them to give me 3-5 of their favorite meals. I then convert them into a very tasty plant-based version and that usually gets them every time. I am a big advocate of seasoning and using fresh herbs to give every dish its natural familiar taste. So the brain alerts you like “Ah this is a familiar taste”… it’s not a new taste or bland, it’s what you are already accustomed to.

Has the vegan diet spread to players on other teams?
Yes, it’s making it’s way very slowly. As you see other players do it; survive, have great performance and not die (lol) other players feel like they can achieve it as well. You’re going against the grain of society, coaches, the team, teammates. Especially in the south (Tennessee). It’s not as easy as most would think for people to embrace a plant based performing lifestyle. We must unlearn to learn a better way of life.

What are your plans for the future as a vegan chef?
I’d like to continue to spread awareness that you can be an athlete and perform on plants and grains; and that plant based food is not boring or just salads… it’s everything non-vegans eat, but is nicer to your body, the planet and animals. I will go as far as my talent takes me hoping to one day have a fast-casual plant-based restaurant.

More information about Chef Charity Morgan, The Plant Life Chef, www.chefcharitymorgan.com / Instagram: @chefcharitymorgan

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