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Lynx vet Brunson credits vegan diet for her longevity

Minnesota Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson, pictured here during the second half in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals in 2017, credits her vegan diet for her success and longevity as a player. Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports

ST. PAUL—Maybe it's a coincidence that last season, at the ripe age of 35, Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson had one of her most productive campaigns in recent memory.

Or maybe it's not.

As far as Brunson, now 36, is concerned, it's no mistake she's still playing at such a high level entering Year 15 of her WNBA career.

"I feel great and I'm sure that's attributed to some of things that I put into my body," the 6-foot-2 veteran said. "You just feel better eating the right things."

Brunson is the only vegan on the Lynx roster, making the change a couple of years ago after a few years as a vegetarian.

"I started as a vegetarian and a lot of that had to do with the cycle of life," Brunson said. "If I could survive without causing harm to anything else then I wanted to do that. Then I switched to being a vegan because the more I learned about food ... I just decided that I can get everything I needed without eating anything that had anything to do with animals in general."

As far as cutting all animal products out of her diet, Brunson said it wasn't as hard as it might seem. She already had steered clear of red meat and pork for most of her adult life, so it was a matter of cutting out chicken and fish before tackling the rest.

"It kind of came in waves for me," Brunson said. "I think the hardest thing for me was cheese because there really is no substitute for that. It's hard to replace that. That was difficult. I feel like everything else came pretty easily."

Brunson listed Indian food and Thai food as some of her favorites.

"Any type of food that is cooked with a lot of seasoning and a lot of spices is good with me," Brunson said. "I think everybody hears that I'm a vegan and they want to throw me a block of tofu or something. You can get good food. I like good food. I like to eat well. And I still can."

Brunson was also very candid about her opinions on the food industry as a whole, adding that it has had a lot to do with her maintaining her current lifestyle.

"Especially when it comes to illnesses and some of the things that are wrong with us," she said. "If more of us looked at what we're eating, we'd start to understand why it's that way."

"You know, a lot of my teammates will tell me they're dealing with things like inflammation and things like that," Brunson added. "They will be like, 'Oh, it just swelled up.' I'm like, 'No. That didn't just miraculously happen.' It's about what we're putting into our bodies. Sometimes those things can produce those adverse effects."

Brunson doesn't have as much swelling these days, and her aches and pains aren't as intense as they were earlier in her career.

Still, it isn't always easy for her to stick to her diet, especially on the road during the WNBA season. While she can cook for herself when she's in the Twin Cities, most of her meals are provided for her when the team is traveling from place to place

"You've just got to figure it out," Brunson said. "I bring certain protein snacks with like a packet of peanut butter or something like that. You're always going to have a plethora of vegetables. You're always going to have carbohydrates. Those things are always going to be there. You just have to put a little more work into it."

"You know, everybody goes on the road and packs a bag of Skittles," Brunson added with a laugh. "Instead of packing the bag of Skittles, I pack something else."

As much as being a vegan has helped Brunson, she has yet to convert anyone else on the Lynx.

"I'm from Louisiana," veteran guard Seimone Augustus said with a smile. "We eat. ... I'm not doing that. I need cheese. I need eggs. I need shrimp gumbo. It's hard for me."

"I'm giving it my best effort nutritionally," veteran guard Lindsay Whalen added. "She is probably the gold standard, and I'm trying my best to keep up."

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