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Jeff Chiu, AP
BYU forward Yoeli Childs celebrates during game against Santa Clara in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.

PROVO — The day Yoeli Childs met with the media to discuss his return to BYU this week, he was upbeat, laughing and almost moonwalked his way into the Marriott Center Annex.

Childs greeted Deseret News sports writer Jeff Call with a wide smile, “Hello, my man.” He saw a media guy with a green T-shirt with the word “vegan” on it and immediately connected. “My kind of guy.”

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
BYU forward Yoeli Childs gestures after hitting a basket against Utah in Provo on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.

Childs took us through his thought process of working out with Boston, Oklahoma City and New Jersey. He spoke of the encouragement he received from Dave Rose and his staff, how he counseled with Eric Mika, one of his best friends, and we felt his enthusiasm for returning to BYU to play with players he described as “elite” and “more experienced.”

I was impressed with Childs. But what caught my attention was his commitment to taking care of his body. He unabashedly shared his discoveries. Similar to former Cougars Kyle Collinsworth and Elijah Bryant, Childs has immersed himself in enhanced nutrition and diet and is two months into a vegan lifestyle.

Childs is all-in trying to further his career by putting in fuel he believes will make his internal engine more efficient and decrease inflammation and pain while improving his recovery time.

Anyone so excited and dedicated to any cause like this is an inspiration. Hope it works.

“I think taking care of your body is huge and it’s important for high school and college players. They don’t put enough thought into it,” Childs said. “It’s important for recovery, for building your body, for building muscle. If you look at Eli (Bryant), and Kyle (Collinsworth) coming back from knee injuries, the biggest part of that was the way they ate and the way they took care of their bodies.

“If you look at guys in the NBA right now, the way they eat prolongs their careers. If you want to feel better, have your knees hurt less, cutting junk out of your diet will help you a lot.”

Childs said he was a late bloomer and was a “fat kid” growing up, all the way until he got to BYU. He was 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds in the eighth grade. “I’m 6-8 and 225 right now. For me, who wasn’t always athletic, who wasn’t always quick, lifting weights and working out was really important.”

Childs said Collinsworth influenced Bryant and Bryant’s emphasis on dieting influenced him, but he also researched a lot on his own.

What does he miss most from his former diet? Mac and cheese.

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“Cheese is so good. But the more you research it, the grosser it gets. If any of you want to know more about vegan, go watch a video on how cheese is made, watch how some of these animals are killed and you probably wouldn’t want to eat it anymore.

“I’ve tried the vegan diet for about seven to eight weeks. My knees don’t hurt as much, my body feels good. I’ve cut body fat. I feel good.”

Instead of a nice steak for dinner, Childs opts for beans and rice. He eats a lot of veggies and has replaced ice cream with frozen yogurt. He’s used bean burritos, lentil and soups as a replacement for dishes with animal products.

“It’s working for me, so I’m going to stick with it.”

Bon appétit.

Now, go dunk on those chicken eaters.