Tennis legend Venus Williams has launched Happy Viking, a breakthrough vegan protein shake company.
The 7-time Grand Slam winner and 4-time Olympic gold medalist says she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease back in 2011 that changed her life. That condition ‘forced’ her to stop playing tennis, and left her in ‘constant’ pain, she says on the company’s website.
‘Take back control of my health’
“I needed to find a way to take back control of my health,” Williams said. That need led the athlete to adopt a vegan diet at the urging of her doctors. Happy Viking, she says, was born out of that diet shift and the impact it had on her health.
“In just 10 months, I recovered and won my fifth Wimbledon Championship and an Olympics Gold medal,” Williams said. “I’ve now won 75 Championship tennis titles and had one of the longest careers in tennis history.”
Vegan in the Family
Venus went plant-based at the urging of her doctors, but she also credits her switch to her sister, fellow tennis legend, Serena Williams.
Serena has credited her own recovery time and improvements on the court to a vegan diet. Serena’s husband, entreprenuer Alexis Ohanian, has also switched to a vegan diet for his health. Last month, the Reddit co-founder took aim at factory farming. In a Tweet responding to a CNN post about mink infected with COVID, he said plant-based food would be getting a significant bump in the decade ahead.
“Not the time, I know, but plant-based foods, products, etc. are going to get a huge bump next decade as we realize what our factory-animal-processing practices have done to our health & safety,” Ohanian Tweeted.
Earlier this year, Serena’s fashion brand added vegan leather to its animal-print heavy Spring 2020 collection.
Speaking to ESSENCE, Williams described the line as a ‘fashion passport’, inspired by some of her favorite places to travel.
“Ultimately, when I thought about it, [it] was Africa,” she said. “That’s where I got the giraffe print from.”
She then spoke about why she had chosen to use vegan leather in the collection, saying she chose it because “I feel like a lot of things are being killed and we’re not saving the earth. We can all just do one small thing and help out so that was also a lot of our inspiration.”
Williams partnered with beverage company Dyla Brands, makers of Stur Drink Mixes & FORTO Coffee, to develop Happy Viking. The drinks boast 20 grams of protein, including all nine essential amino acids. The shakes are also rich in plant-based sources of omega fatty acids, hailing from sunflower oil.
“After being diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome, I needed to find a way to fuel my body in a way that would mitigate symptoms of the disease and help me to return to the top of my game both on and off the court,” Williams said in a statement.
But a nutritionally complete shake wasn’t enough for Williams. She set out to create the world’s best tasting plant-based protein shake. With the help of top nutritionists and dieticians, Williams spent a year, refueling her body and creating what would become the foundation for Happy Viking.
“I created Happy Viking because I want other people to have healthy, effective, and delicious options to fuel their bodies so they can strive towards being their best self in every aspect of their life,” she says.
The dairy-free Happy Viking drinks currently come in two flavors: Triple Chocolate and Vanilla Bean. Prices start at $69.90 for 12 one-liter bottle. They’re expected to hit shelves in the U.S. early next year.