Is Novak Djokovic a vegan?

A relaxed Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic on court during practice match

Novak Djokovic has always been very open about his tennis career and the sacrifices he has had to make to pursue physical excellence and reach the top of his game.

After converting to a gluten-free diet more than a decade ago and changing his eating habits, Djokovic said he was a “changed man” within 18 months.

It is widely known that Djokovic, currently ranked world No.2 by the ATP, takes his diet very seriously. In his book, ‘Serve to Win’, released in 2014, Djokovic revealed to his fans how his gluten-free diet had a profound effect on his career success. Djokovic said: “My life changed because I had begun to eat the right foods for my body, in the way that my body demanded.”

A recipe for success

So, what is Djokovic’s recipe for success? The main elements to his diet are avoiding gluten and dairy products and limiting his sugar intake. Instead, Djokovic focuses on a diet rich in vegetables, beans, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, lentils, and healthy oils. He drinks plenty of water throughout the day, and while he is off the tennis court, he engages in mindful exercise such as yoga or tai chi for at least 20 minutes per day.

Why Djokovic changed his diet

Earlier in his career, Djokovic was known to have collapsed during tournaments, and he attributes this to being unaware of his gluten intolerance and generally eating a poor diet. In 2010, Djokovic began trialling a gluten-free diet and immediately noticed the effect it had on his general well-being.

After further tests, it was discovered that Djokovic was also intolerant to dairy products and refined sugar has an adverse effect on him. In an interview with Forbes, Djokovic said: “My diet hasn’t just changed my game, it’s changed my life – my wellbeing. And if I feel better, that obviously transfers to my professional life. Eating vegan makes me more aware of my body on the court… more alert. I removed toxin from my body, and with them went all the inflammation and other things that were messing with my energy levels.”

Opening Eqvita

In 2016, Djokovic opened a new vegan restaurant called Eqvita situated in Monte Carlo in Monaco where he was currently living with his family at the time. Djokovic saw the restaurant as a platform to share and promote plant-based eating with the rest of the world.

The restaurant offers a varied menu of 100% organic, plant-based food to include pasta dishes, soups, salads, and sweet puddings. One of Djokovic’s favourite dishes is a raw vegan zucchini lasagne made with cashew ricotta.

Within the first year of opening, Eqvita proved highly popular with the public, while plenty of celebs flocked to its door to enjoy the vegan spread, including well known tennis stars, Grigor Dimitrov, Tomas Berdych, Fabio Fognini, and Andy Murray to name but a few.

The success of veganism

After beating Roger Federer in the final at Wimbledon in 2019, Djokovic talked about his diet in one of his press interviews with US journalist Graham Bensinger. He explained how he doesn’t use the label ‘vegan’ to describe his diet because of the misinterpretation of the word but added that he does eat a plant-based diet and has done for many years.

Djokovic openly reveals to the media that changing his diet has made him feel, “better than I ever have before… I have much more energy, and I’m proud to be a vegan athlete”.

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