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TORONTO — Heading into his fourth year as a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes, there’s something a little different about offensive lineman Alaric Jackson.
Jackson decided at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to completely overhaul his diet and now eats a vegan lifestyle. It’s not a common thing to see, an offensive lineman eat such a healthy diet, since players who suit up in that position generally look to stay as big as possible.
“It’s not normally offensive lineman eating vegan, honestly,” Jackson told media members on a video conference earlier this week. “But at the same time it’s a health concern on and off the field, honestly.”
The six-foot-six, 315-pounder found the change in his diet not as hard as he had anticipated as he is now eating plant-based and avoiding things like meat, dairy and processed foods.
He says he’s not really missing any foods from his old diet just yet, sitting about eight months into his lifestyle change. The only thing that’s been a bit of a challenge is making sure to eat enough to keep up his weight.
“It’s a little difficult, for the most part,” said Jackson. “I see myself eating a lot more just because, to be honest, when you’re eating meat it helps you gain weight easier.”
His new healthy lifestyle choice has had a good reception so far from his teammates and coaches and he’s also seen an improvement on the field.
“I got some stuff for it, some jokes and things like that, which is fine. I enjoy it,” he said. “Everybody was on board with it, seeing how I move better and I’m a lot more capable of doing more things now.”
Jackson, a Windsor, Ont. native, was ranked No. 1 on the CFL’s Central Scouting Bureau rankings that were released last week. The news came as a bit of a shock for him, however, since he’s yet to play a game in 2020 (Iowa’s season starts on Oct. 24 against Purdue).
“Honestly, just because like everybody else, I’m still trying to prove myself,” Jackson said “(My reaction) wasn’t anything too big because I really haven’t done anything, but it’s just nice, honestly.”
Jackson started at left tackle in all 10 games in which he played in 2019, missing three contests due to injury. Now heading into the new season, he’s caught the eye of both the NFL and the CFL, which opens plenty of doors for him following his collegiate career.
“I think it’s pretty good for me, honestly,” he said when asked about having the option of going the NFL or CFL route. “Just because if one doesn’t work out, I could try another. At the end of the day, I want the best option for me and what ever happens, happens. I really can’t control that, just have to work hard, have a good season and it’ll all unfold for me.”