Veganism not just for hippies — athletes join club
Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Updated: Friday, April 29, 2011 12:04
The semester has finally come to an end as finals week is getting the best of us.
I want to reiterate that vegans are not hippies. Not consuming animal products does not equal hippie. People eat this way to improve their health and life for the future. Of course, a vegan diet ultimately helps the planet and was definitely a huge factor in my decision, but to some that is not the case.
I'm obviously not the only person who thinks this way of life is perfectly normal, so I listed a few well-known professional athletes and celebrities just to prove it.
Baseball writer Jonah Keri wrote, "Who says you have to eat meat to be a successful athlete?" Keri explains how many athletes say that choosing a vegan diet enhances their performance. These smarty-pants athletes also know that they are not going to be ball players and stick handlers forever. They know that staying away from meat and dairy will start improving their health for when they get older.
Others are faced with health conditions, such as Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, that may force them to make the switch.
There have been several world-class athletes who adapted to a vegan or vegetarian diet, including former NFLers Desmond Howard and Ricky Williams, NBA guard Salim Stoudamire, track and field star Carl Lewis and Edwin Moses along with many others.
In May 2007, 247-pound, Gonzalez was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. His doctors prescribed a diet made up of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds as a way to improve digestion and combat the condition. Now, he loads up on berries, bananas, mangos, fresh vegetables, rice milk and hemp milk and blends them into power smoothies.
Gonzalez was shocked that he felt so good when the season started. In the fourth quarters of games, he was sprinting past tired defenders. He also found himself more alert during team meetings. After game day while his teammates were sore and worn out, he'd check into the gym for a post-game workout.
Like Mixed Martial Arts? Five-foot-9-inch, 155-pound Mac Danzig became a vegan in 2004. Ever since, he says, he seems to have quicker recoveries from the beatings he takes during fights. Although MMA fighters are typically linked to meaty diets with shockingly high protein contents, Danzig is still able to fight under the direction of the Xtreme Couture MMA Gym in Las Vegas and keeps up with some of the biggest names in the sport.
The New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire hasn't completely ditched the meat, but he is definitely down for boycotting fur and posing for PETA's "Ink, Not Mink" campaign. While promoting the campaign, Stoudemire admitted he tends to a four-day vegan diet as a type of body-cleansing. He stated the diet will "purify my body, and get my body in top shape."
Even local athletes recognize the plant-based diet. Allen Altfield, a senior computer science major, as well as a vegan athlete, gets enough protein without the animal fat. Altfield is more than impressive, traveling 3,800 miles — on a bicycle. He departed from Tybee Island, Ga., and ended up in San Francisco to raise green awareness. He traveled through 13 states in around 70 days with minimal training. Tell me, can any ol' meat eater can do that?
Remember the movie Clueless? Do Cher, Dionne and Amber ring a bell? If it not, at least try to remember that popular blonde Alicia Silverstone. Since becoming a vegan, Silverstone said she feels physically and spiritually better than she could ever have imagined. She even wrote a book, The Kind Diet, and appeared at UCF a few months back to talk to students about why to consume a vegan diet and the benefits.
PETA's sexiest vegan and vegetarians list include Olivia Wilde, who claimed that she felt "beyond [her] desire to boycott the torture factories, I am also way happier when I eat a plant based diet, and I feel about a thousand times more energetic." Carrie Underwood, Anne Hathaway and Josh Harnett said their good-byes to meat too.
"One day I was cutting up a chicken for my mom, and I hit a tumor with the knife," Hartnett said. "There was [pus] and blood all over the place. That was enough for me."
Andre 3000 admitted he prefers a good meal with broccoli "because I'm a vegetarian," after being asked during a post-award show interview.
Oh, and don't be so hard on yourself. You are the only person who can control what goes in your mouth.
As Altfield said: "I guess I've mentally blocked out negative feedback. Haters will be haters, but as long as you speak the neutral truth, they won't be able to provide any logically negative criticisms."