A Vegan in the NFL?
Start your Tuesday off with a cool article on Planet Green about Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons! (Thanks Todd!)
A Vegan in the National Football League?
Well, almost… Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez eats green and stays strong (and so can you).
By Mickey Z.
Astoria, NY, USA
Another NFL season is upon us but what can the red meat macho world of pro football offer an earth-friendly greenie? How about a lesson in eco-eating from Atlanta Falcons Tight End Tony Gonzalez? A ten-time Pro Bowl selection, Gonzalez currently holds the NFL records for single season receptions (102) by a tight end, career touchdowns by a tight end (76), career receptions by a tight end (916), and reception yards by a tight end (10,940).
After reading The China Study in 2007, the 6-foot-5, 251-lb. athlete experimented with veganism and now subsists on an almost entirely plant-based diet. In 2008—his first meat-free season—Gonzalez stuck to his diet and broke two major records for his position. “I was like, ‘OK, this is working,’” he said. “I have so much more energy when I’m out there.”
And he’s not alone. In baseball, Milwaukee Brewers slugger Prince Fielder is proving vegan can hit home runs at a prodigious rate. Also, there’s mixed martial arts fighter Mac Danzig, ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, and other athletes both staying green and excelling in their sports.
How is this possible when it flies in the face of conventional (sic) wisdom? Part of it can be chalked up to the deeply embedded protein myth. “Although in the past it was thought that vegetarian and vegan diets might impair athletic performance,” explains Natalie Digate Muth, MPH, RD, “scientists, coaches, and athletes alike now agree that with proper planning a diet without animal products can effectively fuel peak performance.” In addition, the decidedly mainstream National Academy of Sciences has declared, “There is little evidence that muscular activity increases the need for protein.”
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) adds: “People build muscle and other body proteins from amino acids, which come from the proteins they eat. A varied diet of beans, lentils, grains, and vegetables contains all of the essential amino acids. It was once thought that various plant foods had to be eaten together to get their full protein value, but current research suggests this is not the case. Many nutrition authorities, including the American Dietetic Association, believe protein needs can easily be met by consuming a variety of plant protein sources over an entire day.”