Plant-Based Power Couple Reggie & Megan Hayward

Jax Vegan Couple Talks to Plant-Based Power Couple Reggie & Megan Hayward at Feast for Rabbits Vegan Event in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Who is Reggie and Megan Hayward?

Reginald Hayward Jr. is a former American football defensive end who played nine seasons in the National Football League for the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Megan is also an athlete; she was on the University of North Florida basketball team and owns a temporary staffing agency in Denver.  Reggie and Megan are a local Jacksonville couple who are striving to live a plant based life. Plant based since 2015, they know all the tips and tricks to ease yourself into this lifestyle, make it affordable and get yourself in the healthiest state possible.

Photo credit Jessica Lea Photo

We met this beautiful couple a few months ago at a Feast for Rabbits plant-based dinner event celebrating Black History Month at Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach.  We loved talking over the most delicious plant-based southern feast we ate that night!

It seems that more and more in our newsfeed, media and life in general we are hearing about plant based lifestyle. By definition, a plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, with no animal products. Sounds hard, right? Not really says Reggie and Megan, “There’s so much variety with plant based food options, we don’t eat just salads like others think we do.” Checkout what they had to say about going plant based!

Feast for Rabbits Plantbased Dinner Interview Recap

I’ll start with the most obvious questions, when did you begin a plant-based lifestyle and why did you choose to go that direction? 

We started being plant based slowly in 2015. We began with “Meatless Mondays” for dinner, transitioned to 2 days a week, then 3. Eventually we went pescatarian and only ate seafood 2-3 times per week. In July, 2017 (our first wedding anniversary) we decided to fully go plant-based. Being a retired NFL player, I was always concerned about CTE.

What is CTE?  Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms.

With all of the research being done that brain injuries can lead to Parkinson’s, dementia, and other issues we decided that going on a plant-based diet and taking care of mind, body, and soul would help me down the road in older age. It’s the quality of life that we are pursuing. I want to be sharp as a tack as I age.

Looks like we are both fellow Chicagoans, when and why did you move to Jacksonville? I moved to Jacksonville in 2005 when I was picked up in free agency by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Have other athletes come to you for advice on going plant-based? “I think that plant-based lifestyle is growing and there’s a lot of curiosity. A  lot of my teammates and current players are looking for a competitive advantage, and if they think a plant based diet can give them that they are definitely interested.”

What questions about a vegan lifestyle do you get asked the most? “So do you eat eggs? haha”

Do you have a vegan restaurant in town that is your go-to? “Our go-to would be JaxSpice Indian restaurant in Jacksonville Beach. It’s not completely vegan, but their vegan options are delicious.” 

Is there any one piece of advice you would like to share with those considering a cruelty-free lifestyle? “If there’s one piece of advice I would give someone interested in switching over is to do the research about the meat industry and about what you’re actually putting in your body. Learn how certain things can have a long-term effect on you.”

Are there any well-known products that people may be surprised to know are vegan? “Oreo’s because they have nothing but chemicals. They’re not good for you, but they’re vegan.”

Many people are convinced that a plant-based lifestyle is difficult, do you have any pro tips you can share that help you maintain this lifestyle? “There are a lot of blogs and communities out there that share recipes, restaurants, and food festivals where you can gain knowledge in this process. Also be  kind to yourself. You will make mistakes, but don’t let that make you stop trying.” 

Photo credit Jessica Lea Photo

What are some things people get wrong about vegan lifestyle? “That if you become vegan you’re going to lose weight. That there’s no such thing as vegan junk food.” 

Just for fun … 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? “I’m retired so all my time is my free time, but I definitely like to travel and really enjoy seeing historical areas in different places. You get a sense of empathy when you see how other people live.” 

What is your go-to cocktail? I have several go-to cocktails, but not to overwhelm you, I’ll probably go with a whiskey sour with Woodford Reserve.

Favorite book? I really enjoyed “The Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan. 

Bucket list travel destination? Hong Kong!

Any pets? We have a 5lb Brussels Griffon named Overlord

Favorite cruelty-free Brands? Oatly, BambuEarth, Myoko’s, and Violife.

Megan said she can’t imagine life without Reggie: “He is my home.” Reggie knew early on he found his soul mate, “someone you love and cherish. I want her by my side. She is the yin to my yang. I couldn’t be happier.”

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