Vegan Howell has some shock ingredients in store as he prepares for another upset
Dean Howell is not your stereotypical footballer. You won’t find him falling out of the latest trendy nightspot; instead, you’ll most likely find him at home with a hot mug of cacao and maca root.
Say what Well, cacao is a natural alternative to chocolate and maca is a herb used to support energy and strength. That’s right, Howell is a proud vegan – and the Crawley left back swears by the choice to abstain from the use of animal produce.
‘I’ve been a vegan for around six or seven years and feel great for it. My flexibility, recovery and endurance have improved.
Feeling better than ever: Crawley's left back Howell
‘I’ve played football since I was 15 or 16 and always struggled with injuries. But I’m benefiting from veganism in my later years and feel like I’m playing the best football of my career.’
It was the loss of his grandmother, Georgina Brown, that provided the catalyst for the 31-year-old to take his interest to a new level.
‘Losing my nan to breast cancer was something that made me question it further because she never smoked or drank,’ said Howell, who will face Stoke in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.
‘I decided to look into the foods she ate and it’s gone from there really.’
With the help of two friends, Gareth Langford and Ryan Brown, the much-travelled defender established his own range of herb-based, vegan friendly products, available on his website www.revolution-foods.com.
With a summer research trip to South America and a vegan restaurant in the pipeline, Howell is planning for life after football. ‘I was always keen to set up a business that I’m passionate about. My passion is my vegan lifestyle; for me football is a job. I respect football for what it has done for me and the people I have met, but it only lasts for a certain amount of time. Your health is everything.’
Stocked up: Howell has gone into business selling vegan products
Unfortunately, veganism does come with its flaws. He said: ‘I can’t go out much, it’s very difficult. There’s a couple of vegan places in London that I can go to, but it’s a nightmare. I can go out, but I just have to eat boring salads.
Buying groceries can be a bit annoying as well, I can only really do it online.
‘And I can’t eat lunch with team-mates at the training ground. I’ll take a mango with me and eat when I get home.
‘Even my team-mates are getting into it. There’s six or seven of them that take my products.
‘I sold it to them off how fit I am. I’m 31, I’m the quickest and fittest at the club. But obviously, with footballers being footballers they won’t actually tell me how amazing they think my products are.’
They will probably be more appreciative if Howell helps land a giant-killing at the Broadfield Stadium.