Assistant coach to the Washington Wizards team, Joseph “JB” Blair has been vegetarian since college, and vegan for the past 9 years. His proactive advocacy has made it easier for players and coaches to opt for vegan choices.
At 49, Blair is no longer playing basketball himself, but throughout his career of professional basketball, including 4 seasons of college basketball, participation in several professional teams in Europe, and with the Harlem Globetrotters, he credits his vegetarian diet as helping him keep his weight under control and giving him more energy.
Nine years ago he was inspired to go fully vegan, after his then-girlfriend told him of the cruelty of the animal agriculture industry. He feels that in addition to improving his physical health, the switch has helped change his mental state:
“Mentally, I have clear thinking and focus,” he says. “And, I truly do believe that the discipline it takes to follow a plant-based diet bleeds over to other aspects of your life, as well.”
The idea that a meal is not worth taking a life has become his guiding principle, a shift that permeates his lifestyle and professional commitments.
As the market for plant-based foods has improved, and many exciting foods that can easily be swapped in to replace their animal-derived counterparts have become available, he has found that post-game nutrition has included many more vegan options. For example, plant-based protein options for smoothies to give the players after a game are always available these days, in addition to whey protein.
Blair said that other NBA stars, such as superstar Chris Paul, going vegan, has helped to open the eyes of the players around him and make teams aware that they needed to cater for those players. “There’s always some vegan options available now, and it makes such a difference for people to try it,” he says. Blair makes a point to take players out to his favorite vegan restaurants in the cities where they are playing, to open them up to considering vegan options.
His ultimate aim is to become a stronger ambassador for a plant-based lifestyle, both on and off the court.