As mentioned on Instagram, when I’m on the Côte d’Azur every summer, it’s usually an exceedingly indulgent period. In recent years, I’ve noticed the influx of (what’s happening in London too) on-trend health/wellbeing spots. From eating, exercise classes, even three dedicated juice bars at the airport I use. SUCH an exciting time – delighted to see so many people commit to this way of life!
Years in the making, and shortly after this post, Eqvita opened in MC.
Novak Djokovic Opens Vegan Restaurant, Eqvita, In Monte Carlo
Novak Djokovic has opened a restaurant. The world’s number one tennis player recently debuted the vegan Eqvita in Monte Carlo, where the athlete lives full-time. This marks something of a homecoming for Djokovic, whose parents owned restaurants while he was growing up in Serbia.
“Because of my family, I’ve always had a love for food,” says Djokovic. “But as an athlete, it became something more—the fuel that determines how I play, how I recover and how alert I am on the court… I attribute a great deal of my professional success to my diet.”
It’s no secret the tennis star went gluten free back in 2010. The Wall Street Journal even said of his diet shift, “He had an otherworldly season in 2011 and has been the world’s most consistent player since.” Building on this momentum, Djokovic has now adopted a mostly vegan lifestyle—one he hopes to share at Eqvita with fans and clean eaters alike. Forbes caught up with Djokovic on the eve of The U.S. Open, discussing everything from plant-based foods to his first date with wife Jelena (shown with the athlete above). Here’s what we learned:
We’ve all seen Jacob’s Creek video about your first date with wife, Jelena. Did you know immediately know she was the one?
No… [Laughs] I was hoping she was, of course, but we were very young—she was 19, I was 18…. I had started spending more time training in Monte Carlo, and she was studying in Italy. So, when she came by train for the weekend, I had to make sure to shine and impress her… but a sports bar at that time was, in my eyes, [a very nice restaurant]. Then I tried to be really confident and order for her, but confused steak tartare for normal steak… It was really awkward, but a turning point nevertheless. [Laughs]
Both the menu at Eqvita and your personal diet are vegan. Why?
I do eat fish occasionally, but other than that it’s all plant-based, organic living foods. I’m not saying that’s the way everyone should eat—every body has its own needs and preferences—but I have found this to be the lifestyle that gives me the most success on and off the court.
What specific changes has your diet had on your game?
My diet hasn’t just changed my game, it’s changed my life—my wellbeing. And if I feel better, that obviously transfers to my professional life. Eating vegan makes me more aware of my body on the court… more alert. I removed toxins from my body, and with them went all the inflammation and other things that were messing with my energy levels. As an athlete, the most important thing is to keep your energy levels consistent—especially as a tennis player, where you’re alone on the court for a best of five match. When playing for 3, 4, 5 hours straight, you need the right fuel… and for me, the right fuel is plant-based.
It’s amazing how much your background and nationality play into eating habits. I grew up in Serbia, where the cuisine is really based on red meat and breads—there’s a bakery on every corner. So, growing up, that’s always how I ate. But once I became a professional athlete, and I had the opportunity to travel and explore different kinds of food, my eyes were opened.
So, why debut your own restaurant?
Food is my passion. Of all the things I’ve experienced in life, food has changed me the most. I wanted to share that impact with the world.
If you could leave one legacy behind, what would it be?
If you asked that question a few years ago, I probably would have answered differently. But now, in one short definition, it’s this: I would like to use my position as an influential athlete to spread good messages and good values throughout the world—whether that’s through food, sports or my own behavior. The world has become really hectic and competitive in every field of life, and because of that we’re lacking compassion. I hope to use my presence—my acts, behavior and words—to inspire empathy. Because for me, a legacy isn’t just about trophies. I’m very grateful for them, of course, but I see that success as a platform for something else.
Via Forbes by Emily Siegel | 30th August 2016