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The star initially started changing his diet after becoming frustrated with how his career was going in 2007. He removed dairy, gluten, and refined sugar – and said he immediately felt relief from the respiratory issues which had been plaguing him.
During the interview, Djokovic told Bensinger the journey to his diet now – which he described as plant-based, saying he eats no animal products – has been interesting.
‘More than a diet’
In an interview earlier this year, Djokovic discussed his lifestyle in more depth. While he has been very vocal about the health benefits going animal-free, he hasn’t spoken about the ethics.
Speaking to Essentially Sports, he said: “It’s a lifestyle. More than just a diet because you have ethical reasons as well. Being conscious of what is happening in the animal world and you know the slaughtering of animals and farming and everything.
“There is obviously a huge impact as well on climate change that people maybe don’t talk about as much. It’s more than a performance for me, it’s a lifestyle. Something that I’m really proud of and hopefully that community grows.”
He added: “Hopefully, I can inspire other athletes that it is possible to be plant-based and to recover well, to have strength, to have muscles. I’m not a weightlifter, of course, but I do have an optimal balance between the strength and power and speed. And, you know, nothing seems to be missing, at least from my experience. So I will keep on enjoying that.”
While there are ethical motivations behind his lifestyle, Djokovic is keen not to call himself ‘vegan’. He discussed this at a post-match conference during Wimbledon 2019 (which he went on to win, beating Roger Federer in a five-set final).
He said: “I don’t like the labels, to be honest. I do eat plant-based (food), for quite a few years already,” he said. “But because of the misinterpretations of labels and misuse of labels, I just don’t like that kind of name.
“I do eat plant-based. I think that’s one of the reasons why I recover well. I don’t have allergies that I used to have any more. And I like it.”