A vegan or vegetarian lifestyle has become synonymous with healthy living and is no longer limited to people looking to shed a few pounds or those who are morally averse to killing animals for sustenance. No, even current and former professional athletes, people who rely on their finely tuned bodies to operate at an optimum level, are becoming more familiar with plant-based diets.
It is interesting to note that the average carbon footprint of a vegetarian diet is half that of a meat eater’s and that the average carbon footprint of a vegan diet is even lower. Healthy eating and social responsibility go hand-in-hand these days so it is not surprising that legions of people are eschewing their carnivorous ways and opting for a more humane diet replete with vegetables and legumes of every variety.
Legendary New York Jets’ player, Joe Namath, who became a vegetarian stated several years ago, “I have been a vegetarian for a few years. Fred Dryer of the Rams has been one for 10 years. It shows you don’t need meat to play football.”
Professional athletes, like everyone else, have different reasons for their plant-based diets with some holding fast to the notion that their recovery times after workouts are shorter, they experience less inflammation and swelling, and are generally happier in the way they feel.
Others have more altruistic motives like contributing to the fight against global warming with the understanding that cow flatulence produces atmospheric methane, aka CH4, which is a greenhouse gas that is 30 times more powerful than CO2.
And of course, most people are more than happy to dig into a juicy steak but when faced with the reality of how these animals are slaughtered, it becomes an inconvenient truth around the dinner table.
Racecar driver, Andy Lally, five-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona is an advocate for animal rights and offered the following, “I do it for ethical reasons, by this point in human evolution, we should be smart enough and kind enough to live without torturing other living beings just so we can enjoy a juicy lunch. There are plenty of plant-based options available that taste great and are excellent meat and dairy alternatives.”
Olympic Gold Medal-winning snowboarder, Hannah Teter, is another athlete who is keenly aware of the slaughterhouses across America and the millions of animals sacrificed inside them for carnivorous appetites around the globe.
“Animals can’t speak for themselves, but scientifically we know that they don’t want to die…I feel stronger than I’ve ever been, mentally, physically, and emotionally”, said Teter.
But strict adherence to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is not necessarily in the cards for everyone. Some, like the ageless NFL quarterback, Tom Brady, maintain a regimented diet consisting primarily of vegetables and plant-based products but he is not above cheating from time to time.
“If I’m craving bacon, I have a piece. Same with pizza. You should never restrict what you really want. We’re humans, here for one life,” the 43-year-old passing legend stated.
“What’s changed as I’ve gotten older is now if I want pizza, I want the best pizza. I don’t eat a slice that tastes like s— and then wonder, ‘Why am I eating s— pizza?'”
Brady went on to further opine that agonizing over every little detail of one’s diet can cause more harm than a temporary cheat here or there. “I have a friend who freaks out if it’s not the most organic this or that, and I’m like,” Brady said. “That stress is going to harm you way more than eating that chip is.”
As even the most casual football fan knows, Tom Brady is the holder of the most Super Bowl trophies in NFL history with seven and has more records than a registry of deeds. During last season, his first with Tampa Bay, there were more NFL picks on the Bucs than on most teams because they had signed away the most celebrated quarterback in NFL history from the team he spent his first 20 years with, the New England Patriots.
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And as long as we are discussing Brady’s former team, the Patriots’ new signal-caller, Cam Newton, is also a vegan and credits his dietary regimen with a myriad of positive health effects. Newton said: “It’s not putting certain things in your body that is going to combat your body trying to recover.”
However, like Brady, he is not a strict vegan, especially on game day. “Eggs, spinach — that’s probably one of the few days where I’ll incorporate eggs for the protein,” Newton told Boston-based sports radio station WEEI. “Obviously, I’m vegan, but everything is kind of sourced for trying to get your body to be at its peak performance come game time.