Apparently, celebrities love to employ the buddy system when they choose to adopt a more plant-based diet. Like Jay-Z before her, Serena Williams has chosen to join the vegan club, not for her own health, but to support her sister, Venus. But the sisters are going a little further than Jay and Beyonce–they’ve¬†taken on a fully raw, vegan diet to help ease the symptoms of an incurable disease she was diagnosed with this summer, according to the Daily Mail.¬†Welcome aboard, ladies.
Following a potentially career-killing diagnosis (Venus found that her inflamed joints and excessive fatigue were do to an incurable autoimmune condition called Sjogren’s syndrome), the tennis icon was forced to re-examine her eating habits, eventually landing on a diet that prohibits meat (something she used to love), dairy, and yes, even cooked food. Serena, according to reports, isn’t suffering from the same disease, but has adopted the diet to support her sister.
Named for Dr.¬†Henrik Sj√∂gren,¬†Sjogren’s syndrome primarily attacks the glands which produce tears and saliva. But it can (and often does) manifest alongside other autoimmune diseases, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, which seems to be the case with Venus. And while there’s no known cure for Sjogrens (because it involves the cells of the body mistakenly attacking other cells in the body, which is a hard thing to curb), there are lifestyle and home remedies that are recommended, including diets (like veganism), which help aid in decreasing joint inflammation.
While the diagnosis (and, to some, the diet) sounds scary, Venus told People magazine that she actually felt relieved when pain and exhaustion, which had previously stumped doctors, was finally attributed to a known disease.
“I just want a chance to play on the same field as other people, I want to feel normal, but as frightening as the diagnosis was, it was also a relief.” she stated.
Going vegan certainly isn’t a cure, but if it’s working for Venus, we say good on her.