Anthony Mullally, vegan rugby player

Anthony Mullally is Rugby League professional
who has played in the English and Canadian leagues and internationally for
Ireland.

At 196cm (6 ft 5 ins) and 114 kg (17 st 13 lb)
he cuts an imposing figure.  Playing at
prop, he initially signed for Widnes, the team in the town on his birth.  Later he joined Huddersfield before joining
Leeds Rhinos, helping them towards the Championship in 2017.  He played in two World Cups (2013 and 2017)
and while playing for Leeds played in the European Super League.

He moved to Toronto Wolfpack, reigning
champions in the Canadian league, in February 2019.

Turning vegan

In early 2017, Anthony turned vegan.   He was vegetarian before that and consumed very little dairy.

“I’ve never had any drawback” Anthony told Great Vegan Athletes in 2017 “I’ll never eat animal products optionally again!”

Since then he’s taken his veganism to new
levels.  He’s been an ambassador for the
Veganuary campaign, and has opened a vegan café.  It’s a mark of his commitment to the lifestyle
following the change.

“I stopped eating red meat originally after watching a documentary by Gary Yourofsky, the American animal rights activist and lecturer; that changed my whole perception on things” Anthony said in an interview with an online vegan magazine.  “This was four years ago and I didn’t know too many other professional vegan athletes, so I started a slow transition. It wasn’t until two years later that I went completely vegan.

“The push in the end was when I looked properly into the dairy industry and the factory farming egg industry. I just said to myself that I couldn’t be a hypocrite and not eat meat while there’s just as much cruelty in the dairy industry.”

“Now I look back I can’t believe I ever ate meat,” he has also said.  “I read up about physiology and anatomy and the more I looked into it, the more I personally came to the decision we are not designed to eat meat.

“I feel evidence is more compelling for a vegan diet.”

Vegan on the team

Anthony found that his teammates did react to his choices, and there was “lots of banter and jokes, lots of me arguing, trying to tell them that veganism is the most sustainable and ethical lifestyle. It fell on deaf ears, of course, and I learnt to stay quiet about it, although some of the team came to me individually and now there are two vegetarians on the team, thankfully.”

Anthony has more than a passing interest in food, and has used his
knowledge of nutrition to assist him.

“It’s important that I eat a lot of complex carbs with slow-releasing energy such as sweet potatoes and oats, plus lots of beans and whole grains like quinoa which are complete proteins. I also supplement B12, have a plant-based protein and make sure I take a lot of creatine, as this is crucial for maintaining muscle mass, along with amino acids such as leucine.”

“My favourite dish is pasta-based — I usually use red lentil pasta and I make a sauce blending cashew nuts, basil leaves and red bell peppers from the jar with the oil; this gives you a nice creamy sauce. I also boil some broccoli and fry a few mushrooms with turmeric and add black beans and spinach in there, too.”

The cafe!

He’s also taken his love of food to other people through his vegan
restaurant.  The Vital Café is a project
based on Caribbean food.  It’s close to
the Leeds Rhino’s stadium and was set up in partnership with two nutritional
therapists.

“I hope Leeds Rhinos fans will come in and give it a try” Anthony said in a press interview. “We are very proud of our menu and the great tastes we have on offer and I am sure once they taste the food, they will be coming back for more.”

“Being vegan is something I am very passionate about and whilst there are lots of cafés and restaurants around that offer vegan dishes alongside non-vegan and vegetarian options, I am proud that our café at its core will be a vegan establishment.

“There are so many wonderful foods to enjoy to suit all sorts of people and we’re happy that our food and packaging, being compostable, is having minimal effect on the environment.”

News report

The cafe

Anthony’s Wikipedia page

The restaurant in the news

Twitter: @mullally_ 

Instagram: mullally91  

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