Why Tom Brady Says He's Only 80% Vegan

When an NFL player is referred to as the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) and is still collecting Super Bowl rings well into his 40s decides to divulge his diet and nutrition regimen, it's probably best to pay attention. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady may technically be a 44-year-old man, but he has the fitness level of a healthy, athletic person in their late 20s. If the body is a temple, then Brady's is Angkor Wat. So, what does Brady put into that sacred shrine of his? 

You might have heard that he follows a vegan diet, but according to Insider, it's actually more of a "flexitarian plan" with an 80/20 vegan-to-meat ratio. It's said Brady includes plenty of vegetables, rice, and grains in his diet, along with some select lean protein in the forms of chicken and fish. And the football star, who has his own wellness brand called TB12 (named after his initials and the number he wears on his football jersey), credits this diet with keeping him in optimal shape.

Flexibility in a vegan diet is a good thing, according to nutritionists

The purported health benefits of veganism are plenty, according to Healthline, including a diet that's rich in nutrients and high in fiber and antioxidants, which may help protect against certain cancers, lower the risk for heart disease, and reduce arthritis pain.

And with respect to Brady, who can argue with his diet choice given the outcomes he produces on the field? In his 22nd season in the NFL, Brady is leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns, per Insider, and he also owns about every career passing record imaginable thanks in part to his longevity.

However, there are certain drawbacks to this lifestyle approach, particularly for individuals subscribing to a no-compromise, all-vegan, all-the-time diet. Since veganism eschews all animal products including eggs and dairy, it can sometimes prove challenging to find foods with adequate sources of calcium and protein. It also limits food choices and can make eating out difficult, especially depending on where you live. This is seemingly why Brady uses an 80/20 approach, and the choice is echoed as being a good one by nutritionists.

"The emphasis on plant foods is thought to contribute to the health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet without requiring compliance to a 100% vegetarian or vegan diet," registered dietitian Kris Sollid told Insider. "A flexitarian diet, as its name implies, allows for flexibility while striving to slowly increase fruit and vegetable intake over time without eliminating animal foods."

Whether it's the best diet for everyone is up for debate, but for Brady, it's definitely hard to argue with the results.