Arian Foster is now a vegan. Mr. Foster, running back for the Houston Texans is amongst the best running backs in the National Footabll League. Most people don't associate veganism with (American) football, so this news is causing quite a stir. It's not completely unprecidented however. Tony Gonzalez was a vegetarian for a while as well.
Here's an article from CBS Sports talking about this issue:
Texans running back Arian Foster isn't just a football player. He's a pretty interesting, thoughtful dude. As of this offseason, he's also a lot richer. And a vegan.
But it's not like he's going all "meat is murder!" on everyone ... he just changed his dietary habits. The decision raised the eyebrows of just about everyone (coaches, teammates, fans, fantasy footballers), but Foster recently told Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports that the criticism doesn't bother him one bit.
"Everybody cares what I eat now," Foster said. "They didn't care before, but they do now. Everybody is a nutritionist now and they're an expert on protein. Every day, every single day somebody knows something new to do. I just smile and say, 'OK.'"
The logic (presumably) here revolves around fear of a) change and b) the unknown. Everyone knows that Foster is a really good running back when he's eating meat. Everyone knows that they don't know what will happen when he stops. But that logic is faulty.
"I didn't just blindly stop eating meat. I know what I'm doing," Foster said.
Foster, the best-dressed man in the NFL, has to be trusted on this. He's researched what becoming a vegan will do to him physically, and he's discussed the change with physicians and other doctors.
Just because "eating as much meat as possible" is a standard practice in American doesn't mean it's a required practice. Don't get me wrong, I'm a "bacon-up-that-sausage" type of guy myself, but that doesn't mean I think you're weird or wrong because you don't eat meat. In fact, Foster said he typically feels bad after a big, meat-heavy meal and would only indulge himself once every six months or so when it comes to the beef.
It shouldn't be surprising that Foster isn't marching to the beat of the drum society wants him to in this regard. And it shouldn't be surprising if he has a huge season again in 2012. If he doesn't, you can almost guarantee that people will blame his nutrition habits. In fact, I'll bet $100 says the first time Foster has a bad game someone rips him on Twitter for messing up their fantasy season with his diet. Even if they have nothing to do with his performance.
There's considerable concern amongst NFL athletes, sports commentators, and fans. Guess what issue they have? Of course, where's Foster going to get his protein from? Since his team is OK with this, I'm sure he has expressed what he intends to consume - I'm sure he's not planning on being a "french fry vegan." Here's a video showing some people's concerns:
A few months ago, Mr. Foster was discussing his interest in nutrition. Back then, he was still eating chicken and fish...
Maybe if Arian Foster continues to perform as well as he has in the past few years, veganism will gain more exposure. Can you imagine grilled tofu at tail gating parties?