ESPN Says Vegetarian / Vegan Athletes Make the Grade

Yesterday, ESPN offered an article entitled, “Who says you have to eat meat to be a successful athlete?” In this article they discuss a few of the various vegetarian and vegan athletes. If you need to convince people that vegan eating is a healthy option, this is good article to reference. With the exception of Prince Fielder (and it may be too early to weigh in on his progress), they’re all thriving. The ESPN article does point out that you can thrive on a vegan diet (just make sure it’s a healthy vegan diet, not a junkfood diet).

The article profiles:

  • Prince Fielder, Baseball — made the switch for ethical reasons. Unfortunately, his stats aren’t quite as good as they were last year when he was a meat eater. His batting average is consistent with last year, but his power numbers are off somewhat. However, he went 2 for 3 tonight and hit his 13th home run of the year. I’m sure we wont’ be the only ones keeping an eye on his progress….
  • Tony Gonzalez, Football — changed his eating after being diagnosed with Bell’s Palsey, and a subsequent health scare. After moving to a produce-based diet, he had a stellar year: 99 catches – 2nd highest of his career, and 1,172 receiving yards – 3rd highest his career.
  • Mac Danzig, Mixed Martial Arts — went vegan in 2004, after a gradual progression. Attributes his quicker recoveries from the beatings he takes during his fights to his vegan diet.
  • Pat Neshek, Baseball — switched over to a meatless diet gradually. Until he tore a ligament (ulnar collateral) he was averaging more than one strikeout per inning.
  • Scott Jurek, Ultra-Marathon Runner – began removing meat from his diet in 1999. Like Danzig, he too attributes his easier recovery times to his vegan diet.

Below are my two favorite quotes from this article.

Mac Danzig had this to say:

“My whole philosophy is not that it’s bad necessarily — we are omnivores, with the ability to survive on both. But in this day and age, I don’t want to contribute to the meat and dairy industries if it’s not necessary. That’s not just for the animals. It’s for the Earth, too.”

Scott Jurek:

“It’s really not that hard once you get things down,” he said. “You just have to be a little creative. Sometimes you may not find a great vegetarian protein source in a restaurant — no tofu, for instance. So you can do something like add chick peas to salad. Ethnic foods are good, too. Mexican beans, Asian tofu, Indian lentils. [To] some people it’s this weird diet. But most grocery stores have a plethora of foods. Just keep variety in your diet, and you’ll be good.”

If they can thrive, anyone can.

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