HE enjoyed nothing more than "destroying an absolutely massive box of Maltesers", but defending UK Champion Neil Robertson says he has never felt better since turning to a vegan diet.

The 32-year-old Aussie, who plays Kyren Wilson on Sunday afternoon as he bids to hold on to the crown he won at the York Barbican 12 months ago, has shunned meat and dairy and for health reasons - and insists his new diet is going "fantastically well".

While wandering round supermarkets may now be more of a challenge for the world number two, Robertson said he has immediately felt the benefits.

"I've been on a vegan diet for a good few weeks now," he said. "I am having to see a tailor to sort out my waistcoat because there is (now) too much space there.

"It's going really well. It's something where you have to do your own research and that's what Peter Ebdon said to me.

"I tried a no sugar diet prior to the Shanghai Masters and that was absolutely disastrous. I was talking to Peter about how he feels. He is in his mid-40s now. I want to prolong my career as much as possible. Even though I am only 32, I want to keep playing my best for as long as possible.

"It's a lot easier than I thought it would be. I used to love destroying an absolutely massive box of Maltesers. It was hard to see it in a supermarket but it is 'no, you have to try something else'.

"I am really enjoying it and it is going really well. It's quite funny at the club every day and Joe Perry is telling me how bad it is for me.

"I'm saying to him 'just let me be, let me enjoy the diet. I'm happy' and he says 'you have to eat meat. Where are you getting your meat protein from? What are you doing?'

"I gave him a few facts and he says 'I need more facts'. I have to get 20 scientists to come down to the club to explain to him that you don't have to eat meat. There's a choice and I am choosing not to.

"It was down to how I was at tournaments, with travel, especially when you go to China. However you look at it, there is a lot of dodgy meat out there.

"There's always half a dozen players ending up with food poisoning. I didn't really want to be one of those players. I have certainly underperformed in a couple of matches this season where I think my previous diet had a little bit of an impact on that."

Robertson doesn't refer to himself as a vegan, conscious that some of his clothes contain products from animals but he has not ruled out travelling that path in the future.

He explained: "That's why I say I am on a plant-based diet. I am not going to say I am vegan because, obviously, my snooker shoes are made out of leather. That is something I will possibly address in time but, at the moment, it is just for health benefits.

"Learning what takes place in the slaughter houses isn't great. I guess most people possibly turn a bit of a blind eye. You know, but you don't really want to know how it is actually done and I was one of those.

"It is one of those things I will get to. Just learning what I need to eat, and things to avoid eating - I need to do a lot more reading and research because I am only really at the start of it."

And, although the walk around the supermarket aisles may take a bit longer than before, he said: "It's really surprising. Even things you didn't think had dairy in it, they do - small traces.

"I think it's a lot easier than probably what it it was ten to 15 years ago. There's a lot more organic food and a lot more vegan friendly products. It's actually not too much of a problem for me, and I feel really good physically so I am going to keep doing it."