Marc-Olivier Brouillette, vegan American footballer

Marc-Olivier Brouillette is an American Football player playing in the Canadian National Football League. Playing as a Linebacker or Safety, the 185 cm (6ft 1) vegan has enjoyed a long career in the sport.

Marc-Olivier joined the Montreal Alouettes in May 2010 and played 103 games in which he registered 195 tackles, 31 special teams tackles and 5 interceptions. In 2016 he was named as a CFL East All-Star. In February 2017, he joined Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“I think my greatest achievement is having not only made it to the professional level, but to have had a long career” Marc-Olivier told Great Vegan Athletes in 2018. “I am currently in my 9th year of pro football – the average career is about 3 years. I have had many great moments on the field along the way, but the ones that stand out the most are the relationships I have built with people along the way. Two of my closest friends to this day are guys I started playing football with when I was 7 years old.”

Turning vegan

Aged 29, Marc-Olivier turned vegan in early 2016. “The transition did not take very long” he says. “During a two week span I went from Meatless Mondays to 100% plant-based.”

“My wife had been a vegetarian for several years and had moved to a fully vegan diet a few months before. She put me onto the three big documentaries (Forks Over Knives, Earthlings and Cowspiracy). After watching those, I immediately felt the urge to learn more and dig deeper, especially when it came to the potential athletic performance benefits of a plant-based diet.

“Once I did more and more research and uncovered the undeniable and science-backed benefits, I knew this was the diet for me. Reduced inflammation, shortened recovery time between workouts, tremendous amounts of energy, increases in lean-muscle mass, etc. It was had everything an athlete could want.”

Playing as a Linebacker, Marc-Olivier is a position often considered the most important position in defence, where he is called upon to show his versatility in providing hard hits on running plays or an additional layer of pass protection, when required.

In what is obviously a very demanding sport with strength, speed and fitness needed. Marc-Olivier has a well-organised plan to ensure he remains in peak condition.

“During the off-season a lot of time is spent in the weight room and on the field working improving speed, strength and power. Usually at the beginning of the off-season I spend a few weeks rehabbing my body from the previous season and preparing it for the large amount of stress I will be putting it under over the months leading up to the season. From January to May I usually lift weights four times a week (about 2-2.5 hours per session) and do three speed training sessions a week (60-90 mins per session).”

During the season, he drops to 2-3 shorter weight sessions per week, lasting up to one hour. The focus is much more on recovery.

“The key to being able to perform consistently at a high level is recovering between games, so a lot of time is spent stretching, foam rolling, in the cold tubs, working with chiropractors and massage therapist, as well as with the athletic therapist. Depending how many days we have between games, we are usually on the field for practice at least 3 times a week.”

Another key component of the training plan is preparing his mind – which makes sense considering Marc-Olivier’s need to respond quickly and make instant decisions.

“Meditation has also become a staple of my training. Every morning I take at least 10-15 minutes to clear my mind and set my intention and focus for the day.”

Fuelling

“Bowls are a staple of my diet” Marc-Olivier says. “They’re super easy to put together and pack in my gym bag for a long day of training. Usually either a brown rice or quinoa base, chickpeas or black beans and tons of vegetables. I’m also a big smoothie guy so kale, spinach and mixed berries are always in my fridge.”

“Travelling for away games and even playing in a city that is not necessarily known to be vegan-friendly can be challenging, there are always plant-based options available, even if it’s just an apple or a banana. I have also learnt to prepare and pack snacks for long travel days.

“Apps like Happy Cow have been a lifesaver during life on the road. I have also noticed that although there are not fully plant-based restaurants going up on every street corner in every city, most restaurants are making a conscious effort to offer more and more options for plant-based/vegan people!”

When we asked about his plans (in the Summer of 2018), Marc-Olivier was 32 and playing in his ninth season, although he had more planned.

“I hope to continue to play and perform at a high level. Although I am closer to the end of my career than I am to the beginning, I still wake up every morning excited and grateful to still be playing the game I love. When the days come that I feel like it’s a chore, or it doesn’t make me happy anymore, I’ll know that it’s time to move on.”

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