NEW YORK – Daniel Elahi Galan has always been a vegetarian. His parents raised him without meat in his diet, and he wants to extend that kind of upbringing to his children. If he ever becomes a father, of course, because he himself says that stage is a long way off.
Today, at the age of 26 and ranked 75 in the world, he is preoccupied with important victories, as in the US Open, when he defeated in the first round one of the favourites for the title, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. He continued his run till the third round, as he had not done before in New York.
“The tour offers better and better options for vegetarians, although sometimes it’s not like that and you have to look for a good alternative outside,” he told CLAY in Flushing Meadows, who is also a fan of cycling, although he keeps his bike in storage, as he doesn’t want to “break” his hand, as happened to him in a fall.
This weekend he defends his country in Davis Cup against Turkey in Bogota, which will lead to the Qualifiers, a stage prior to the finals of the 2023 competition.
– How it feels to be experiencing the firsts times at the age of 26? First win against a top 5 player, first time in the third round in New York…
– The truth is that I’m very happy. In the end it means that I’m doing things right, I’m on the path I decided to take, which is the right one. That’s what gives me the most joy and motivation to keep working.
– What differentiates you from a top 5 player today?
– Clearly they are much more stable during the year, every week they are playing well, winning matches, and that makes a big difference. They play well on all surfaces, and that’s something we have to keep improving to be closer to them.
– There are not many vegetarian tennis players like you, is it a lifestyle that more athletes should follow?
– I was raised that way and it’s normal, like for you guys it’s normal to eat meat and stuff, that’s me and I was raised that way, I don’t feel any different. I don’t try to influence so much or tell people, and things like that, but I think the world is moving towards vegetarianism, I think we have realised that it is a very good diet, without detracting from the other. It’s a very good life choice. Sometimes people try it and stick with it, and I’m glad that more people are choosing it.
– Is the ecological component that goes with vegetarianism a cause that interests you?
– I try not to get too involved in these issues, but it’s definitely a thousand times better for the environment. The resources that are spent, a thousand things because I can’t name just one, to produce the meat, is something that people don’t know about. I haven’t been doing it for that reason, but now I realise that it is very good for the environment. I wish more people would talk about it.
– If you had children, would you take them down the same path as your parents took you?
– Yes, absolutely. I would try to make them vegan. I eat dairy very occasionally. But well, there are many years to go before that happens.
– Do the tournaments on the circuit have good food for vegetarians?
– I’d be lying if I said that all of them do, but a lot of them have already made progress with that. In most of them I can eat very well without having to look for other options outside.
– Has it ever happened to you that at an event you didn’t have the protein you needed?
– Yes, there are weeks when it happens. There are times when I have to go out and eat somewhere else, but it is something that is normal, you have to deal with it and it doesn’t shock me at all. It’s becoming more and more of an issue and it’s easier for me.
Daniel Galán playing the US Open 2022 // USTA
– What would I have been if I hadn’t been a tennis player?
– That’s a very good question. I always liked sports. I always loved cycling. I don’t have the prototype to be a cyclist because I’m very tall, but I think I would have been a sportsman in some other discipline.
– As a good Colombian, do you go out cycling from time to time?
– Unfortunately, I can’t now. I did it for a while, but I fell once and broke my hand. So it can affect me a lot. I have my bike at home, but I don’t use it any more.
– Outside of sport, do you have any other interests?
– That’s something I’m still discovering. Little by little you start to develop other interests.
– A new president recently took office in Colombia. The first left-wing government in your country’s history. Do you identify with Gustavo Petro?
– No comments?
– I don’t get involved in politics.
– Did you vote in the elections?
– Unfortunately, no. I was travelling.
– And why aren’t you interested in talking about politics?
– As a sportsman, I don’t know. In fact I don’t like to be asked about it. I don’t want to suddenly show a point of view that is going to affect something. I prefer to save my opinions.
– What does Colombia need in a general level?
– We need to believe in ourselves. We have many special things that other countries don’t have. We don’t value ourselves, we need to believe more that we are a good country, made of good people. We can really get higher and higher. The affection of the people is very special, the nature is very rich, all of that is great for tourism. We have everything and we should be proud of it. There are so many things that I could go on forever listing them, but the interview can’t be that long (laughs). I am a proud Colombian.
– Are you a football fan?
– Of the national team, yes, but beyond that, I’m not a die-hard fan. It’s a pity we didn’t qualify for the World Cup, but that’s part of sport, just as we tennis players missed out on important tournaments.
– Now you are focused on the Davis Cup against Turkey in Bogota.
– The Cup is completely different. You never know what is going to happen, that’s why we have to be prepared and leave everything on the court.
– How do you experience the series when you play at home?
– Everyone goes, family and friends. You feel the energy of the fans, which is much needed. You don’t always play at home and you have to learn to enjoy it.