Vegan Poker Players
When it comes to poker, health and wellness might not be the first ideas that pop into your head.
Many live players are notorious for their unhealthy habits; staying awake for days at a time, drinking some form of alcohol as their primary beverage, and ordering greasy casino food to keep themselves satiated.
In spite of this, there are plenty of poker pros who are mindful of what they put into their bodies, some of whom have become vegans.
The most notable example is probably PokerStars pro Daniel 'KidPoker' Negreanu. Negreanu has been outspoken on many issues over the years, and his decision to go vegan is no exception.
In his interview with Vice, Daniel says that that being a vegan makes him a better poker player.
He admits his diet was very unhealthy in his earlier poker days, but improved considerably after going vegetarian in 2000 – and eventually transitioning to veganism in 2006.
At the tables, fellow pros have gone from mocking Daniel for his eating habits to showing genuine interest in his lifestyle choice.
He says he doesn't want to push veganism on others, and just recommends eating healthy in general, or cutting back on meat and dairy for environmental reasons.
Cyndy Violette, who opened a vegan restaurant in Vegas, has also been extolling the virtues of the vegan lifestyle for many years. An entire section of her website is devoted to breaking down the pros and cons of different foods, and how vegans can still find quality sources of protein.
Most players who become vegan do so primarily for the health benefits.
Some, like noted poker authority Ed Miller, have made the change for moral reasons.
In his interview with VegNews, Ed explains that he became a fan of Canadien band Propaghandi, describing them as 'relentlessly pro-animal'. Those views rubbed off on Ed, which spurred the beginning of his vegan lifestyle.
Health and morality don't have to be mutually exclusive reasons, of course. Ed recounted the story of his mother's heart attack in 2002. After checking with his doctor, he found out he was headed for a similar fate if he didn't change his lifestyle.
Similarly, Negreanu has mentioned that while health was his initial motivator, the cruel treatment of animals his further solidified his commitment to eating vegan. With farms that cut off chickens' beaks and force their animals to consume steroids, he likened it to a 'holocaust on animals'.
We've filed vegan poker until 'funny poker' as it's something novel and unusual - around 2% of the population is vegan - but it's certainly no laughing matter.
Some people go vegan for the health benefits, others for moral reasons, and many for both. But when it comes to poker players, sometimes the only worthwhile motivation is cold hard cash.
Dwan - Ivey Prop Bet
That's what motivated Phil Ivey to go vegetarian – or at least attempt to. Back in 2010, Tom 'durrrr' Dwan made a bet with Ivey for $1 million that he couldn't go a full year without eating meat.
Some people would do just about anything for a million dollars. But in the end, it wasn't enough to get Ivey to stop eating meat for a year. In fact, he gave up after just three weeks, paying Dwan $150,000 to buy out.
There's also a contingent of poker players in Costa Rica who have gone vegan. A couple of them describe their experiences relaxing and enjoying life at a vegan communal retreat above.
Is there any correlation between veganism and poker success? Negreanu has had a highly successful tournament career, and he certainly feels like being vegan has played a role in that.
On the other hand there's Ivey, arguably the greatest poker player on the planet, who couldn't stand going without meat for just a few weeks.
In the end, it's probably fair to say that taking care of your health is beneficial to most pursuits in life. While going vegan would likely be an improvement to most poker players' diets, it's just one of numerous ways that people can eat a healthy diet.
Try a veggie burger next time while grinding in the US at Americas Cardroom.
By Erik Olson