A BURTON-BORN professional footballer has spoken about how life growing up in the town helped shape his life – and turned him into the poster child for veganism.
In an exclusive interview with the Mail, Dean Howell lifted the lid on his upbringing and how it saw him picked out as the face of a new campaign for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), designed to prove that being a vegan does not stop people from becoming professional athletes.
The 33-year-old talked about his time growing up in the town.
He said: “I loved it. I really had a great time growing up as a kid playing sports.
“I played football for Edge Hill juniors and then went on to represent my district and play at county level, which was really good experience for me.
“Paulet High School showed me a lot of support and really encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming a professional footballer.
“I turned vegetarian when I was around 20 and removed dairy and eggs at around 24.
“I used to be a lot bigger; in fact my nickname was ‘beefcake’. But it was only retained water as my body tried to balance out all of the acid. Now I’m the same weight but a good deal leaner. I’ve stripped right down and my stamina has gone through the roof.”
Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients.
Mr Howell revealed why he decided to take part in the PETA campaign, which sees him proclaim: ‘I’m Dean Howell and I’m a vegan’.
He said: “While I am so grateful for my career in football, my goal is now to raise the general level of consciousness through what I say. It all starts with loving yourself. Once you love yourself you find that you don’t need to kill animals.
“My diet consists of eating organic natural alkaline fruits and veggies and powerhouse super foods.”
Howell described the impact his decision to become a vegan had had on his career.
“I don’t suffer with many injuries,” he told the Mail.
“My joints are well-oiled and my body feels in phenomenal working order.
“On the very rare occasions when I’ve taken a little knock I’ve bounced back to full health. For instance, I tweaked my hamstring and was diagnosed to be out of six to eight weeks, but I was running again within 10 days.
“I rolled my ankle and was told I’d be out for four to six weeks. Just 14 days later I was sprinting.”
Away from the pitch, Howell’s veganism has also seen him set up a website – www.revolution-foods.com – to help bring the products he uses to others.