In the Spotlight: John Salley

By Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe


Former NBA star John Salley is best known for his basketball career by being the first ever NBA player to play on three different championship winning teams in three years and his time as a talk show host for the Best Damn Sports Show. What you might not know about John Salley is that he is an avid vegan. By that, I mean that he now focuses his time on teaching people how to eat better and all the benefits associated with a plant-based diet. 

We are fortunate that John is such a fan and supporter of Native Foods. He has spoken at our district conference and has participated in events educating children on the importance of healthy eating for Native Foods. 

As such an advocate of health we thought he would be the perfect “In the Spotlight” guest for February, heart-health month! 

1.)  What inspired you to become vegan?

 My health. At 27 years old I was feeling miserable, I was not playing to the best of my ability and my cholesterol was at a whopping 274. I was playing in Detroit and my doctor at the time simply said, you need to change what you eat.


2.)  How long have you been eating a vegan diet?

 Well I like to say I have been a lying vegetarian since 1991 but I became a real true vegan 6 ½ years ago. I felt like anything from an animal just wasn’t good for me.


3.)  Do you feel like this choice affected your athletic ability at all?

Definitely. It made me a better, more aware and conscious player, it honestly changed my life.


4.)  What is some advice you give to a person who is new to the vegan diet?

I tell them to go to my website, and go through the 22 day starter kit. I also tell them whenever they feel hungry to drink more water and walk, that’s my main advice, keep drinking the water.

Native Foods uses this image courtesy of

5.) What are some of your favorite foods to make at home? 

Kale and massaged kale salad. I remember a time when kale was not anything more than a garnished used for seafood displays, now everyone is eating kale. 

6.) You are so fortunate to be in a position to be able to speak out about the vegan lifestyle, what is the most important message you try and portray? 

I tell people they just need to change the way they think about food. It is not giving up anything it is just changing how you view the food. I say if it comes from a vine or a tree or the ground it is okay to eat and good for your body. I ask people if they would eat a dead animal they saw on the street? And follow p by saying if you wouldn’t eat it then, don’t eat it from the supermarket. 

I talk to a lot of kids. I never want to make it harder on them or come across as “preachy” kids do not respond to that. I tell them ways to incorporate new foods in their diets and to educate them on the benefits not focus on the negative. It’s a lot for a kid to think about, like if they had to tell their grandma they can’t eat her recipes anymore and things like that.

7.) How do you spend your free time now? 

I spend it by teaching health and wellness, I love it. 

8.) Any books you reccomend for vegan newbies? 

Skinny Bitch

9.)  What is your favorite Native Foods item?

The Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger.  It has a nostalgic factor for me as it was the first thing I ever ate from Native Foods and I was blown away at just how good it tasted. 

19. Oklahoma Bacon Cheesburger

John Salley keeps himself pretty busy with being a wellness advocate, having a vegan wine line and staying up to date with the lastest health information. You can see  what he has been up to on his website, Pour yourself a glass of Vegan Vine and take a peak. 

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