Dustin Watten is a member of the US national volleyball team. He is now an established member of the team and has travelled with them to high-level competition, helping them towards team successes.
Dustin has been vegan since 2012 and as well as playing for his nation he has played in the Brazilian national league which is often considered the highest level national league. High attendances and passionate fans make it the second most popular sport in Brazil after soccer, and Dustin often spent time after matches signing autographs for fans. He’s often been spotted by fans on the way to practice. “There is just a lot of love and respect for the game and the athletes that play it here, like nowhere else in the world” Dustin told us. He has since left Brazil and played in the French league, and played in the German national league.
- Member of the 2015 US Gold Medal team
- Plays in high profile leagues in Brazil, Germany and France
He started playing for the American team in 2009 when he was invited to try out for the squad taking part in the Pan American Cup in Mexico. The team made the final which went to five sets in a tight contest against Canada. Dustin came on a substitute and America went on to win gold. The match remains Dustin’s proudest career moment.
Later he became established as a starter and in subsequent competitions he helped America win two more golds and a silver.
At 6’ 0” (183 cm) Dustin is smaller than many team-mates, although as a Libero he plays only in the back row. Many Liberos are shorter than Dustin in; his skills lie in ball control, digging and passing.
Guided to veganism by another athlete
It was a chance encounter that made a rapid change for Dustin. He bought a book for a long flight in 2012 and noticed Rich Roll’s ‘Finding Ultra’. Without much investigation, Dustin bought it as well. “I didn’t think too much about it but figured it was a motivational book and thought it would be a great read. Fast forward to the plane and my 14 hour trip overseas, I couldn’t stick with a book until I picked up ‘Finding Ultra.’ Once I opened it, I couldn’t put it down, I read it with all my heart and a fever I’ve never had for anything having to do with a book.”
By the time the plane landed, Dustin was vegan. The change went well, he lost weight and started to add smoothies to his diet. “Bananas and kale are always a staple in my smoothies, four times a day I will have one and most times, I will find a way to cook some kale into my dinner. I also eat a lot of black beans. Luckily being in Brazil, brown rice and beans are everywhere, it’s been a nice surprise but even when I am doing the cooking, I like to have a light portion of both combined with tons of fresh veggies and fruit.”
Travelling is sometimes a problem, although luckily Brazil is easy. There there’s usually plenty of beans and rice , cooked vegetables and tropical fresh fruit. French food often involves meat and creamy sauces so Dustin and a teammate who had also decided to give veganism a try cooked lentils, quinoa and veggies before trips. Unfortunately the lack of options would mean that a trip caused massive weight loss.
“As far as athletic performance, I feel lighter, I wake up with a pop and after my morning smoothie I am bouncing off the walls. With my team now, we always have two sessions, usually weights in the morning and practice in the afternoon. I am to refuel at lunch and I notice there is never a problem with digestion. Where I see most guys stuff themselves, hit a wall and have to nap for a hour or two. I’m ready to get back after right away.”
In September 2015 Dustin played for USA in the World Cup and helped the team to the Gold medal and the world title. Read more here. Since then he helped USA win the 2017 NORCECA Championship, and take third in the 16-team FIVB Nationas League. Dustin played in the HIVB World Championships and helped USA to take third of the 24 teams. In 2019 he helped Berlin Recycling Volleys to the Championships.