Q&A with Troy Woolfolk: What It’s Like Being a Vegan Athlete

By Alexie Rendon – December 1, 2021
Brian Fitzsimmons

Sugarland native, Troy Woolfolk is not only a former cornerback for the University of Michigan, but currently pursues a vegan diet post-college while maintaining his fitness regimen and competitive spirit. 

After moving to Austin, Woolfolk became aware of a competition called “Austin’s Fittest,” which highlights the top 10 fittest individuals and groups in Austin. After coming in second place two years in a row, he knew he had to do something different to claim that first place title. After watching “Game Changers,” a Netflix documentary about veganism, he figured he would give the diet a shot. 

Though Woolfolk is no longer playing college football, he is tapping back into his athletic talents as he trains to compete in professional track all while maintaining his vegan diet. Here is a deep dive into Woolfolk’s life post-collegiate football career as a vegan athlete.

AFM: What was it like to see your collegiate football career come to a close? 

TW: For a while I wasn’t in the gym at all. I was eating whatever I wanted to. I was, what you would call, “skinny fat.” I lost my stamina and endurance. Once I stopped playing football, I didn’t miss it as much. The one thing I really did miss was competing.

AFM: After competing in Austin Fittest for two years, what gave you the idea to try a vegan diet as a tactic to improve your fitness? 

Troy smiling at the camera.

TW: I came across this documentary on Netflix called “Game Changers.” Basically, they are talking about the advantages of a vegan diet. They mention how athletes have seen an increase in performance after switching to a vegan diet. I’m not saying going vegan helped me win it, but that same year I won first place by a big margin.

AFM: What about the film “Game Changers” stood out to you? 

TW: One of the most compelling things that stuck out to me within “Game Changers” is what is in the foods, meaning the quality of protein in which we get.  The meat industry tells us we should get our protein from cows. Where do cows get it from? The cows get it from plants. I want to get the primary source of protein, not the secondary source.

AFM: Once you saw the film and decided to give veganism a try, how was the transition for you? 

TW: I wish I would have done it with a dietitian. I wish I would have done it gradually. I went cold turkey. I got tired of eating the same things all the time. I wish I would have known the options I had. I got tired of eating the same few things for every meal.

AFM: What changes have you experienced since becoming vegan? 

Troy posing with his supplements.

TW: Two things really stood out to me – my increase in energy and stamina through the day. Plants are much easier to digest than meats. Your body uses a lot of energy to digest meat versus plants. When you digest a plant, you don’t use it as much. You aren’t gaining energy by eating plants – just using less of it. Secondly, my recovery is way faster. When I work out, I go so hard (that) I’m very sore. My old post-workout meals weren’t helping me. A lot of meats have inflammation in them. Not only do plants lack inflammation, they have anti-inflammatory properties.

AFM: Besides the vegan diet, are there any other lifestyle choices that have a positive impact on your training? 

TW: I have a huge emphasis on recovery. I used to get hurt a lot. Now, I use recovery as part of my routine. I roll out at least four times a week. I get a massage once a week. I have a stim machine that I use. I wear a compression sleeve, and I ice. 

Take care of your body. If you don’t it will come back to bite you in the butt at the worst time.

 


 

Troy using a kettleball.

Troy using a kettleball.

Troy using a kettleball.

For eating vegan practically, Woolfolk uses the Austin-based meal delivery service, Prep To Your Door, for weeknight dinners because they allow him to eat vegan while his family can eat their own meals. On the weekends, you can find him out in Austin enjoying a meal at Project Pollo or Citizen Eatery.

 
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