Dalila Eshe, vegan basketball player
Basketball around the world
Dalila Eshe is an experienced professional women’s basketball player with experience in a number of top national leagues.
Her experience includes eight years as a professional in Europe. Like many women players she has played in the US WNBA national league in the summer and then overseas for the rest of the year. She played for three years in Turkey, which is considered one of the highest standard women’s leagues in Europe, and she has also played in Russia, which is considered of a higher standard than all other European leagues. She has played in Romania, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Germany, and Ecuador. She has played in Taiwan as a representative of the US team.
She was named in the SEC 1st team after the 2005/6 season; this is a representative team of the best players of the season. She was also named as a draft selection in the WNBA that season as the 24th pick. This remains a period she remembers with great fondness.
Dalila turned vegan in late 2012.
“I wanted to go vegan or at least vegetarian a while back” Dalila told us, eighteen months after making the change, “but I was nervous playing overseas I wouldn't have access to all the resources I was looking for. And to be able to practice twice a day and play at a high level.
"Over time and through my own research I ran across Brendan Brazier and his book. He had a lot of valuable information specifically for high level athletes. And from there I made the leap. It felt natural to me and I’m so happy about the decision. I will also note that during my season in Portugal I ate way more chicken then I can stand to think about and honestly I was just tired of meat. My body was screaming for something else...and I listened!”
Motivated by a number of different reasons to go vegan, Dalila lists health, environmental concerns and animal rights. She is grateful to her parents for a good understanding of the issues and for raising her with vegan food.
“Health alone can be the strongest reason. Reduce the energy your body uses to breakdown food and having more energy throughout the day is enough in its self. Then couple that with reducing your carbon foot print and being kind to animals I honestly cant think why you wouldn’t if your fully educated on the matter.”
“It’s honestly been a heavy weight for me. I’ve been wanting to take the step back to what I felt was right. One day I woke up and decided it was time.”
Fuelling the player
Food for the 191cm 6’3” forward is usually natural plant foods and she does not eat a lot of processed foods. Favourites include lentils, brown rice, avocados and green smoothies, and she also makes black bean burgers. She feels her weakness may be that eats a lot of fats as she eats a lot of almond butter and avocados.
“Overall my diet consists of tons of greens, lots of beans and rice combos, a lot of fruit, I love avocados and almond butter for healthy fats and I drink a hemp protein shake when I’m training hard. I don’t really like all the processed vegan options."
An interesting twist is that despite Dalila’s concerns over eating vegan as a professional athlete, teammates and coaches have not found her diet as a large issue. Teammates tend to ask a lot of questions, and she’s enjoyed being able to promote facts and knowledge about veganism.
At age 30, Dalila hopes to start coaching Division 1 college teams, and work towards being a head coach at a major Division 1 university.
“I hope that this new health conscious era continues. That people begin to explore more the ideas of being vegetarian and vegan and understand how it's so beneficial in so many ways.”
“I can't imagine eating any other way.”