Chef Charity Morganís Plant-Based Meals are a Hit with NFL Players
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November 2018

Chef Charity Morgan is channeling her skills as a Le Cordon Blue certified chef, creating plant-based meals for NFL players, athletes, and celebrities. Her husband Derrick Morgan, a Tennessee Titan linebacker, was her impetus: he went vegan before she did.

Charity and Derrick Morgan
Charity and Derrick...

Chef Charity Morgan is channeling her skills as a Le Cordon Blue certified chef, creating plant-based meals for NFL players, athletes, and celebrities. Her husband Derrick Morgan, a Tennessee Titan linebacker, was her impetus: he went vegan before she did.

VeggieHappyís co-founder Johanna McCloy recently talked with Chef Charity Morgan about her path to plant-based cooking, her approach with NFL athletes, and some of her favorite plant-based foods and recipes. This is part one of a two-part feature.

VH: Congratulations on your success! Fifteen Tennessee Titans on your plant-based meal plan? Thatís fabulous. Is your husband Derrick still vegan?

Chef Charity: Absolutely! He went vegan before me. Thatís what Iíve had to correct on pretty much every podcast that Iíve done. People ask me, ďso how did you get Derrick on board,Ē and Iím like . . . um, Derrick got ME on board.

I love it because my husband lost a lot of things when he chose this diet. He lost inflammation in the body, his face is not as pudgy, and he lost a lot of stress, but his strength didnít leave. Heís still as strong as an ox, heís still defined and stacked on the build.

More and more NFL players, NBA players, and so forth, are choosing to be vegan. Itís debunking that manly notion, and that madness of what some people think of vegans. Theyíre not tree huggers or weak or little surfer people.

What initially prompted Derrick to become vegan?

He spoke with a nutritionist. Being an NFL player, and this is true for any really serious and professional athlete, itís always about focusing on their bodies and their craft. He went to a nutritionist and asked, ďWhat is the best diet? What can I do to make myself feel better, and be at my optimal performance level, because Iím now going into year eight in the NFL.Ē And she said, ďhave you ever thought about giving up dairy and meat? Because they add inflammation to the body.Ē

Derrick, being the person that he is, did tons and tons of research, which all pointed to lower inflammation, faster recovery, sleeping better . . . all these things. He was like, ďokay, sign me up!Ē And he started. It was maybe a month later that I followed, I said you know what? I think I can do this with you, because I was having digestive issues. Itís been all downhill from there.

Thatís great. Were you already trained as a chef at Le Cordon Bleu at that point?

I trained 15 years ago. Iíve been a chef for 15 years and Iíve gone the whole chef route. Iíve worked in restaurants, Iíve done catering, Iíve done all of that. Culinary school was probably one of the hardest things that I did, but it gave me my credentials so people would take me seriously. I needed that, because I came from a whole different world in L.A. doing modeling and commercials. I knew people wouldnít take me seriously unless I did the work.

How was your experience of culinary school?

I watched all my friends and all my classmates drop out of culinary school, because itís probably, by far, one of the hardest things people can go through. I tell people, culinary school is like a whole bunch of instructors and chefs that are in competition for who can be the meanest. They degrade you. You have to have really thick skin to keep up with them. Itís just horrible. I went through it, you know, I did my time. I just took what I learned from culinary school and I applied that to my plant-based role later, by changing the ingredients.

I noticed that you reference yourself as plegan, instead of vegan.

Yeah. Donít put me in a box! No two vegans are the same. Some people still eat honey but have otherwise been vegan for 30-40 years; theyíve never eaten eggs or beef or chicken or dairy, but they eat honey because they want the minerals. Think about that, 30-40 years, when it was not easy, and they didnít have Beyond Meat and Gardein burgers and all this stuff. They pretty much were eating tofu and real vegetables. Who are we to talk down to them because these are the choices that they made? Theyíre the pioneers. So you know what? I donít want that pressure. I donít want it for myself, and I sure as hell donít want it for my athletes.

Iím willing to meet any athlete wherever they are on their journey. Some of my athletes will tell me, I want to give up everything, even cheese, but Iím just not ready to give up this, whatever it might be, quite yet, because I feel like my body needs it. And I say okay.

How many NFL players are consistently eating your plant-based meals each day?

Itís still my top 15 guys, and Iím super sad, because this is the NFL and two things can happen: one is that players can get injured on the field . . . . so I have two players that are on IR or Injured Reserve, and then I have two players in the last couple of weeks that got released from the team. I just got news from oneís wife, she texted me today, and said that they are with the New York Jets. So itís so many moving parts. I have four guys from last season that hit free agency, and those four guys are somewhere else on another team . . . but overall, Iíve touched 20 plus players with this plant-based journey.

I actually cook for retired players too. Like Cortland Finnegan who is a retired Titan, he played for them for many years. Heís on the meal plan. And I also have some celebrities that I cook for but I donít talk about them, because I donít want to bring too much paparazzi. The celebrities I cook for are huge. The paparazzi sit in front of their house.

I have an assistant now because it got to be a lot of work. I donít want to turn any players down.

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