It was during the NBA restart in Orlando, Florida when Enes Kanter began to think about going vegan.
Kanter, now a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, spent a total of 82 days in the Orlando Bubble as the Boston Celtics backup center.
Quarantining in the Bubble meant a lot of time to reflect.
I had a lot of downtime and I started to learn about factory farming and the more I read, and the more I watched, and learned, and educated myself, my heart was just shattering.
Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter
It was then that Kanter decided he wanted to make a change, not only to his own diet, but also around the world.
And that’s why the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft now ‘Thinks Vegan’ in a new PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, campaign.
Kanter partnered with the non-profit organization to urge people to “Turn Over a New Leaf” in the New Year by giving veganism a shot.
In the PETA campaign, the 28-year-old big man shared his thoughts on how he researched the meat and dairy industries during quarantine in the Orlando Bubble, saying, “that was the first time I decided we need change, and change cannot wait anymore.”
We always thought eating more meat is going to make us stronger, going to make us faster, leaner -- and everything I learned was wrong.
Kanter’s inner circle worried that he wouldn’t be able to body up opponents on the block or continue to have success on the boards if he changed to a vegan diet.
"I trust myself. I trust the food that I eat," Kanter said.
But going vegan hasn’t slowed down Kanter.
Through the first six games of the 2020-21 season with Portland, he's averaged 12.6 points on a very efficient 68.2 shooting percentage, to go along with 9.2 rebounds.
According to PETA, "each person who goes vegan saves nearly 200 animals every year; reduces their risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer; and helps prevent future pandemics. SARS, swine flu, bird flu, and COVID-19 all stemmed from confining and killing animals for food."
Kanter now joins a growing list of athletes who have gone vegan including Cam Newton (NFL quarterback, New England Patriots), future NFL first round draft pick Justin Fields (quarterback, Ohio State) and USWNT star Alex Morgan. Newton and Morgan have also teamed up with PETA to promote kindness to animals.
“As an athlete, if I can do this, you can do this, too,” Kanter promises.
More than anything, I want to inspire the young generation.
The non-profit is offering a free vegan starter kit full of recipes, tips, and more at PETA.org.
Find out more on Enes Kanter teaming up with PETA to turn over a new leaf in 2021 right here.