Friday, April 25, 2008
The 247 lb. Vegan
Can a football player live entirely on plants?
NFL star Tony Gonzalez
answers, Yes you can.
Just what made him start his vegan diet?
Here's a short story from Wall Street Journal
Mr. Gonzalez had never heard of the vegan diet when he boarded a flight from NY to LA. His seatmate turned down most of the food offered in first class, and Mr. Gonzalez finally asked why. The man told Mr. Gonzalez about The China Study, a book by Cornell professor T. Colin Campbell that claims people who eat mostly plants have fewer deadly diseases than those who eat mostly animals. The evidence was drawn from diet surveys and blood samples of 6,500 men and women from across China.
Mr. Gonzalez was intrigued. Earlier in the year, a bout with Bell's Palsy, a temporary facial paralysis, had focused his attention on health. He bought the book, and after reading it, he was convinced animal foods led to chronic illness. He was an unlikely convert, as his favorite food was cheeseburger.
After he got some help from Jon Hinds, himself a vegan and the former strength coach for the LA Clippers basketball team, Mr. Gonzalez was able to pick out the best protein-packed plant foods for himself, including nutritious breads dense with whole grains, nuts and seeds. His favorite dessert became banana bread topped with soy whipped cream from the vegan cafe near his home in Huntington Beach.
He says, "I have so much more energy when I'm out there."
...And he is not alone in his journey as a vegan athlete.
Here are some additional vegan athletes' stories:
- MAC DANZIG
Mac Danzig took a diet risk four years ago. The 28-year-old mixed martial-arts fighter had long wanted to spare animals by going vegan. But he was afraid his trainers were right: that he'd lose to stronger opponents. However, on a diet of brown-rice protein, beans, soy, nuts and vegetables, Mr. Danzig defeated the last of his challengers in Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter." When fight fans learned Mr. Danzig was a vegan, some said they didn't think he'd have the strength, or the stomach, to conquer the ultra-violent sport, which combines kick-boxing and wrestling. "It's about animal rights," Mr. Danzig says, "not human rights."
- SALIM STOUDAMIRE
Trainers for the Atlanta Hawks worried when shooting guard Salim Stoudamire decided to eat vegan at the end of the National Basketball Association season in 2006. Although the diet left him craving chicken, Mr. Stoudamire says, his biggest challenge was convincing coaches and teammates he could still perform on the court. Team managers forced Mr. Stoudamire onto a scale each morning of preseason training and wrote down his weight. After holding steady at 181 pounds, the bosses got off his back. Mr. Stoudamire says he felt better, and that his performance this season improved.
For more info on a Vegan diet when in athletic training, you can refer to Q&A with a nutritionist at WSJ.com
and PCRM's "Food Power for Athletes"
. Also there are great books out there including Becoming Vegan