Team USA Volleyball star Dustin Watten tells us how he got started on his dairy-free journey.
1. What was your pivotal Switch4Good moment when you ditched dairy?
On my way to the airport, I picked up Rich Roll’s book, “Finding Ultra,” thinking it was a motivational book. I read it from start to finish on the flight to France. I couldn’t put it down! Reading how a plant-based lifestyle had such a drastic and positive effect on Rich’s life at age 40, I was curious and excited to see just how much I could benefit at age 25. At the time, I had no knowledge of any vegans or vegetarians, especially any that were professional athletes, but I was so inspired by Rich’s story that I decided I would go all-in as well. Before I got off the plane, I decided that was it for milk and meat alike and I never looked back.
2. How did switching for good impact your health and athletic performance?
As a kid and even until I made the switch from dairy at age 25, I had incredibly bad facial acne. It was something I was always very insecure and embarrassed about. Even more so, I was confused as I had done so many different treatments and still, at 25, my facial acne hadn’t gone away. Two weeks after I made the switch, my acne was slowly dissipating, and I didn’t really notice how drastic the change was until a friend made a comment about my “glowing skin.”
On and off the court, I felt lighter and had more energy. I didn’t feel as heavy as I used to feel while consuming dairy. Instead of napping during the day, I had more time to focus on tasks that lead to becoming more prepared once I stepped onto the court – such as meditating, watching videos, stretching, and putting in extra work before and after training.
3. What’s your proudest moment so far as a dairy-free athlete?
My proudest moment is the amount of comments and DMs through social media from other professional athletes and younger athletes alike who have given up dairy and reaped the benefits as well. The first couple of years after making the switch, I felt very anxious about sharing my story and how great I feel after going all-in on a plant-based diet. Once I got over that anxiety and started to share my journey as a plant-based athlete, I received more and more questions from friends and followers alike about how they could take steps to becoming more plant-based.
Almost every day, I receive one or two messages about how someone has made the switch and how great they now feel. It brings me so much joy knowing that other people can feel and experience the benefits that I felt from making the switch – knowing that when we give our bodies love, we can pursue whatever we find most important in our lives with the utmost focus and passion.
4. What is your go-to food that makes you feel awesome?
Dates! I use dates throughout the day. I use them on top of my oatmeal, in my smoothies, and on top of my smoothie bowls. I always pack a ton of dates – sprinkled with cinnamon for training – not only for myself but to share with my teammates as they are a great source of glucose to keep us feeling great during long training sessions.