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vegan football players

June 23, 2008

zora naki

My husband passed on this ESPN article about vegan/vegetarian pro athletes and i love how it aims to challenge the idea “you are what you eat”. i.e., if you want to be a large man who knocks down other large angry men for a living, then you really should eat large quantities of meat and milk. On the other hand (as several athletes featured in the article point out), if you want to be a large man who enjoys health and at least an average lifespan post-NFL, it’s probably a good idea to change your diet now. It’s amazing how much energy these athletes seem to need to put into defending their lifestyle choices. Team doctors are involved. Sports fans follow their progress intensely. Reporters blame slumps on their salads!

Other vegan/vegetarians featured include mixed martial arts fighter Mac Danzig and ultramarathoner Scott Jurek. I’m really impressed by the daily 6,000 – 8,000 calories that Jurek consumes. The man only eats fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts. Can you imagine how much food that is? We’re talking about the health food equivalent of 15 Big Macs every single day. That’s like 100 apples!

The article lumps together the purist vegans with the guys who live off of soy protein powder shakes and Clif bars. It may be vegan, but if it’s powder and it comes in a can, then i wouldn’t really call it food. Would you?

i think that most people interested in growing food and eating well have incorporated some version of Michael Pollan’s edict “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It’s something that we try to do around here, with varying degrees of success. As my son puts it, “We don’t eat land animals.” Or at least I didn’t for about 12 years. My third pregnancy led to insatiable cravings for bacon and ham, which (sadly) I am still doing battle with. On those days, I call myself a porco-pesco-lacto-ovo vegetarian.

I don’t have an ethical problem with eating animals – people are designed to be omnivorous, after all. And obviously, every body is different and has different nutritional needs and sensitivities – how can anyone make gross generalizations about eating – more protein, less carbs, no dairy, more soy?

But really, the point is to be a conscious eater. To be aware of the food we put in our mouths. To think about its point of origin. I’m not just talking about transportation costs and farting cows. Did it grow? Was it manufactured? Did it live a miserable little half-life in a factory? Does it have ingredients that you can’t pronounce? Do you actually know what went into producing it? Will it rot (as is proper) if left on the counter or stay curiously unaffected by the passage of time? Would it survive a nuclear blast? Is it the best choice available to you at this point in time? I believe these things matter.


One Comment

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  1. Hansen #
    June 6, 2012

    It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year’s supply of footballs. Thats not very vegan.

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