Plant-Based Power Chef Charity Morgan on Fueling The Tennessee Titans with Plants

There are plenty of reasons to eat more plant-based foods. For NFL linebacker Derrick Morgan, who most recently played on the Tennessee Titans, the reason was clear: He wanted to become an even better athlete. “[Derrick] wanted to have a competitive edge for training on and off the field,” Morgan’s wife, Chef Charity Morgan, said. After doing extensive research on using plant-based foods as fuel, Derrick decided to fully commit to plant-based eating — cold turkey — back in 2017. His wife Charity and two young kids, soon followed his lead. Now, the whole Morgan clan eats all plant-based, all the time. But this is hardly where their plant-based story ends.

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The Morgans’ new approach to eating soon made its way onto the football field. Charity, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained professional chef, gradually transitioned her cooking style to plant-based and, with that, began to serve meals to other Tennessee Titans. “For me, it was just re-educating the guys about what food looks like. Once they realized they could have lasagna, enchiladas and mac and cheese in plant-based form, they were so stoked,” she said. Charity cooks up plant-based dishes for many of the players, who’ve found that the meals leave them energized and ready to play. “A lot of them tell me they feel faster on the field, they feel more energetic,” Charity said of the players, adding that many said they didn’t feel sluggish like they normally do after a big lunch.

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Chef Charity’s recipes are always evolving, but there are a few staples she said the players request on the reg. Her plant-based truffle mac and cheese is by far the players’ most beloved recipe, and her tacos, which she makes with soyrizo, black beans, bell peppers, onion and garlic are another favorite.

While there is a wealth of information around plant-based eating, Chef Charity said protein is often the players’ first concern when they sign up for her meals. She said being an educator comes as part of her job as a chef: Once she breaks down the beneficial nutrients in foods like vegetables, lentils and legumes, she said the players’ worries are easily quelled. The chef labels all of the players’ meals clearly so they know what to expect before digging in, and every dish is protein-packed. Her “Pro-Bowl,” a mix of lentils, chickpeas, hemp seeds, kale and spinach, is incredibly protein-dense.

While many of the Titans have incorporated plant-based eating into their lives (and their training), not all have committed as wholly as the Morgan family has — and, as Chef Charity put it, that’s completely OK. “I tell people all the time, even if you start with Meatless Monday, that’s great. I encourage that,” she said, adding that Meatless Monday often ends up being a gateway to even more plant-based eating. “People realize they create their own [unnecessary] barriers, but once they try [to eat a little less meat], they start to realize that it’s really not so difficult. We create our own roadblocks that don’t really exist in reality,” she said.

So while conventional wisdom may tell us that professional football players need a meat-heavy diet to perform their best, the real proof is in the Titans.