He’s widely considered to be one of the two best soccer players of his generation, well known for the many times he’s led Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, and the Portuguese national team to victory. As a result of that, he’s also one of the best-paid and most famous athletes of all time. But is Cristiano Ronaldo vegan?
No, Cristiano Ronaldo is not vegan. He eats meat and other animal products and wears materials made from animals. He also likes to watch bullfights, has promoted KFC, sells non-vegan products like leather shoes, and is the co-owner of restaurants that serve animal products.
How Cristiano helped shelter dogs
It wouldn’t be fair to only mention the ways in which Cristiano harms animals without also mentioning how he helped shelter dogs.
In his personal life, Cristiano has “always liked having dogs.” He didn’t have any when he lived in Manchester because it was “impossible.” According to him, “it was just too cold, and [his] house wasn’t suitable either.” But since moving to Spain, he’s had multiple dogs and cats.
When a Portuguese TV network did a segment on him and his house in 2010 they dedicated more than three full minutes just to him playing with his dogs. “They lighten up the house and bring me a lot of joy,” he said. He did throw one of the dogs in his swimming pool despite knowing the dog didn’t want to, though, which some of his fans criticized him for.
Cristiano’s act to help shelter dogs was years later, in 2016. He got word that a dog shelter in Portugal was facing financial problems and he immediately decided to help them by sending them a signed jersey that he had worn himself. The dog shelter auctioned off the jersey, which allowed them to pay their bills and continue to care for the dogs.
Cristiano supports bullfighting
Unfortunately, Cristiano isn’t nearly as concerned about the wellbeing of bulls. In fact, he likes watching bullfights.
As almost everyone knows, bullfighting is cruel. It would be a blood sport if it was an actual sport, but since the bull is not there by choice and the fight is rigged against him, that label doesn’t even apply. It’s simply the unprovoked public taunting, torturing, and ultimately killing of an innocent animal.
Bullfighting is banned in most countries, and it would even be illegal in Spain under animal rights laws if they hadn’t made specific exemptions for it. They’re allowing animal cruelty because people enjoy watching it, and Cristiano is one of those people.
In 2008, Cristiano portrayed a bullfighter in a commercial for Fuji Xerox, but instead of taunting the bull with a cape he taunted him with a soccer ball. Of course, this didn’t really happen, but a real bull and a real bullfighter were used to record the commercial and the commercial glorified real bullfighting.
Despite being criticized for the commercial, Cristiano didn’t change his opinion on bullfighting. Ten years later, he needed a bodyguard to protect him during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and he chose a bullfighter for that position. A source said: “Ronaldo watches a lot of bullfighting and handpicked Nuno after thinking he was one of the toughest men he’d ever seen.”
Cristiano’s diet and the protein misconception
Cristiano eats up to six small meals a day to keep his energy levels high during his frequent workouts. He has described his diet as “a high protein diet, with lots of wholegrain carbs, fruit and vegetables.” He has also said that he avoids sugary foods and alcohol, likes to eat fish, and usually orders a steak with salad when he’s in a restaurant.
The fact that he eats lots of wholegrain carbs, fruit, and vegetables, and avoids sugary foods and alcohol makes his diet significantly healthier than that of most people. And, of course, as a professional athlete he needs more protein than the average person. But he seems to have bought into the common misconception that protein needs to come from animal products.
In reality, protein is made by plants and we don’t need any animals to obtain it. All essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are present in plant-based food. Feeding plant-based food to animals and then eating those animals is completely unnecessary.
We also don’t need to worry about quantity. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states the following: “Vegan diets typically meet or exceed recommended protein intakes, when caloric intakes are adequate.” They even specifically mention that athletes can meet all their protein needs on these diets as well.
One of the advantages of getting our protein from plant-based food is that plant-based food is generally lower in saturated fat. That’s part of the reason that plant-based diets can benefit our health. Another advantage is that it eliminates the needless killing of animals. Hopefully, Cristiano will realize this as well.
Making money at the expense of animals
Cristiano has partnered up with many companies to promote their products, and some of those products were made from slaughtered animals. The most prominent examples of this are his KFC commercials, which aired in various countries in 2013 and 2014. The commercials were part of a bigger advertisement campaign which also involved printing his name and picture on KFC boxes.
He also sells meat and other animal products through some of the companies he owns. Most notably, he’s the co-owner of multiple restaurants and hotels, all of which serve meat and other animal products. And some of the fashion products he sells, like the leather shoes in his CR7 Footwear collection, are made from animal materials.
Animal industries versus Cristiano’s causes
The animal industries don’t just harm animals and our health, they’re also in direct conflict with some of the causes Cristiano supports.
Cristiano has worked with the charity Save the Children to fight childhood obesity. While most people can see that promoting KFC doesn’t help with that, few people know that obesity is actually linked to animal products in general, not just to junk food. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states: “Vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.”
He has also worked with Save the Children to fight child hunger. And he has said the following about that: “When I learned that one in seven kids around the world go to bed hungry each night, I jumped at the chance to get involved.”
Child hunger is linked to animal products as well. That’s because it takes a lot of crops to produce animal products. After all, animals use most of their energy to live and only part of it to grow. We’re already growing enough crops to feed every human on the planet, but because we feed part of those crops to animals and then eat the animals we end up with less food and starving children.
Richard Oppenlander, author of the award-winning books Comfortably Unaware and Food Choice and Sustainability, has summarized it as follows: “Eighty-two percent of the world’s starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, which are then killed and eaten by wealthier individuals in developed countries like the US, UK, and in Europe.”
Cristiano was also one of the first celebrities to bring the Amazon rainforest fires of 2019 to people’s attention, even though his tweet contained misinformation. He said that “it’s our responsibility to help to save our planet.” Those fires were deliberately lit to clear land, which happens every year and is also related to the animal industries. The two main reasons Amazon rainforest land is cleared are to create pastures for cattle and grow soy to use as animal feed.
Hopefully, Cristiano becomes aware of how he can tackle multiple problems at once by going vegan and decides to make the switch.
Do you want to learn more about veganism? Check out our list of free resources!
Did you spot inaccurate or outdated information in this article? Let us know!