Green Queen sits down with Doug Creighton, a Taiwanese-American professional basketball player for the Pauian Archiland team in Taiwan’s Super Basketball League. A vegan for many years, Creighton is now Green Monday’s Taiwan ambassador and a supporter of the global plant-based movement. We sat down to discuss what it’s like being a vegan athlete, Asia’s booming plant-based scene and more about his health, cruelty-free and eco-conscious journey.
GQ: Hi Doug, it’s great to talk to you! What was the main motivation to adopt a plant-based lifestyle?
DC: The original reason was my love for animals. I have always loved animals, but it wasn’t until I became conscious about what loving animals really meant – to not do harm to them. That was why I changed my diet and lifestyle. Then it slowly evolved to include other reasons too after I did some research and realised that it was also better for the environment and my own health. Being a professional athlete, my health is priority number one because you only have so many years you can play. There is just so much good coming out of being vegan, whether it is for ethical, health or environmental reasons.
GQ: As a vegan athlete, what differences do you see in your performance, both physically and mentally?
DC: I see definite improvements. The year I went vegan was the best year of my career on the court, and I attribute much of it to my dietary and lifestyle change. I became much more aware about what and how I feed myself, fuel my body and perform at the highest level.
GQ: What misconceptions are there about being a vegan basketball player?
DC: Being a vegan basketball player is still a very rare thing, especially in Taiwan. I mean, in general, plant-based athletes are still a minority in any sport. So the common misconception is about protein, of course. I always get the same question about where I get my protein from! It comes out of ignorance, not knowing that plants have loads of protein too. Being able to open up my teammates’ eyes has been one of my biggest goals and achievements, allowing them to realise that I can still perform at a high level while eating green.
GQ: What is the plant-based food scene like in Taiwan?
DC: It’s great, especially because Taiwan and many other Asian cultures have strong plant-based roots from Buddhist traditions, so there have always been lots of vegetarian and vegan options. But more recently, Taiwan is seeing a growth of westernised vegan food and meat alternatives. Things like Beyond Meat and Omnipork, for example, have really picked up and are becoming more mainstream. And it is great for people like me who enjoy the convenience of it! After I get home from training or during game season times, these vegan options that have become available in many stores makes it really easy to put on a protein-packed healthy, plant-based meal.
GQ: We really see the plant-based movement taking off around the world. Do you think this will become as widespread in Asia compared to some other countries?
DC: I think we are seeing more people trending towards plant-based in Taiwan and Asia more broadly, and a big part of why this will last is because people are realising the health aspect of eating vegan food. And with new meat alternatives like Omnipork, which can help to replace animal pork that is a staple in many Asian diets, I believe it can really become more widespread. I’ve had completely plant-based meatballs, fried noodles and dumplings. And they’re just as delicious.
GQ: If there is one eco-habit that you would encourage everyone to adopt, what would it be?
DC: I would tell everyone adopt a “be kind” mentality. It would cover a broad spectrum of actions for our planet, from being kind to animals (so eating less of them!) to caring about the waste we produce. If we can be kind to everyone and the Earth, the world would be a much better place.
GQ: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing young people today, and what would you tell the younger generation who look up to you as a role model?
DC: For young people, it has always been peer pressure. In fact, I still face it today. As an athlete, I have to try and combat this image to live up to, this preconception that you have to eat meat to be “strong” or “manly”. But we are seeing changes, like when I could see super health-conscious NBA players also adopt a plant-based diet. We don’t need to be harming animals to be strong. So I guess what I would say to the younger generation is: keep doing what you are doing, spread your love and passion. Make other people see your commitment and that is how you can influence others to do good things!
GQ: We always ask this: team rice or team noodles?
DC: Noodles! I literally love all varieties of noodles, from rice noodles to ramen, can’t live without noodles!
Lead image courtesy of Green Queen.