Romelu Lukaku: An undiagnosed digestive problem pushed me to a vegan diet

Football is full of sliding door moments

Everything changed for Romelu Lukaku in the summer of 2019. After two slightly disappointing seasons with Manchester United, the feeling was that he hadn’t been used properly and wasn’t at the top of his game physically. The first point is subjective. The second was objectively true, but not for lack of attention from Lukaku himself.

Having left United to join Inter Milan, a new medical team diagnosed him with a digestive problem that everyone had missed. A switch to a more plant-based diet saw him reach peak physical condition and – shock horror – scored 64 goals in two seasons for the San Siro side.

Since my stay in Italy, my food has become a big part of my daily life,” says Lukaku, as part of the launch of his new partnership with Beyond meat.

“I understood that food can completely change my training performance and my state of mind, it is important for me now. I found out that I had a digestive problem that I did not know before, since that I changed my eating habits, I noticed such a difference.

“It’s important to make sure you have the right diet, with all the elements and at the right time.”

The Belgian is not evangelical about veganism, however. It doesn’t even describe him as a full vegan. It’s all about finding the best nutrition to improve his performance, and like many other footballers, he finds joy in adopting a plant-based diet.

“I didn’t transition; I’m doing what I can to incorporate more plant-based meals into my routine,” he explains.

“I think a lot of players are incorporating more plant-based meals because they help us achieve a more balanced lifestyle.”

“I think this is an opportunity to help people see an alternative to meat and maybe change their diet. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to go beyond meat. .”

The 2021/22 season hasn’t been the easiest for Lukaku, with a further round of adaptations to make as he settles into a different system of play at Chelsea.

But with his diet better suited to maximizing his performance on the pitch, you wouldn’t bet against him finishing the season on a high.