Fueled by vegetables! NO MEAT ATHLETES
It’s still a common question: can vegetarians perform as well as their carnivorous counterparts in physical competition? Take a look at each of the top level athletes, and you should have your… answer. These vegetarian athletes rose to the top of the sports world — without any help from meat.
Dave Scott holds the record for most Iron Man World Championship victories ever (along with his rival Mark Allen, who managed to rack up an equal number of wins). The Iron Man competition, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26-mile marathon run, is one of the most strenuous physical feats in the world. And Scott won six of them, all while vegetarian. He even came out of retirement at 40 to compete again, and took second place. Even today, he still participates. In other words, this is one gnarly vegetarian dude.
Pro bowl superstar tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, Tony Gonzales isn’t necessarily a strict vegetarian. He holds NFL records for most single season receptions and most touchdowns by a tight end, and most career receptions and reception yards by a tight end. And he did it during various experiments with veganism and cutting red meat out of his diet entirely. Though he eventually decided to eat chicken and fish, he still gets kudos here for giving veg a go.
World famous track star Carl Lewis wasn’t always a vegetarian. But he eventually went even further: he adopted a vegan diet to prepare for the World Championships in 1991, where he says he ran the best meet of his life. And he wasn’t the only one who held that opinion. After seeing the results of his race, Track & Field magazine remarked, “It had become hard to argue that he is not the greatest athlete ever to set foot on track or field.” He won ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year in 1991 as a result. Carl Lewis earned a total of 10 Olympic medals over his career, nine of them gold.
The legendary quarterback Joe Namath is probably the most famous vegetarian football player. Inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985, he was also one of the best players, period. In his words, “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.” Namath serves as a role model for aspiring gridironers everywhere.
The Czech-born legend Martina Navratilova is one of the greatest tennis players of the 20th century. She won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 31 doubles titles — a record she still holds today. A vegetarian for most of her career, she’s a vocal PETA supporter — though recent reports find her occasionally venturing into fish meals.
Tony La Russa-
Longtime vegetarian Tony La Russa is more famous for his career as a high-profile manager than a baseball player — he’s one of only two Major League Baseball managers to win the World Series for teams in both the American and National leagues. But he did stints in the major league as a player before his ascent to being one of the most accomplished managers in the history of baseball. Just goes to show that vegetarianism can be good for the mind as well as the body.
One of the greatest NBA basketball players in history, vegetarian Robert Parish played center for the Boston Celtics alongside Larry Bird. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. Measuring more than 7 feet tall, he was an imposing force on the court, yet was renowned for his versatility as well — and his high release jump shot was legendary.
One of the youngest vegetarian champs on our list, Prince Fielder is the first baseman for the Detroit Tigers. He has been a strict vegetarian since early 2008 — and hasn’t looked back since. His father was also a baseball player in the MLB, and they’re the only father-son duo to each have scored more than 50 home runs in their careers.
Billie Jean King-
Two women vegetarian tennis stars on one list? Indeed — and both deserve it fully. Billie Jean King, a longtime vegetarian, has also been an inspiring force against sexism. Along with winning 12 Grand Slam titles and 16 doubles titles, she’s famous for her Battle of the Sexes match, in which she defeated former men’s Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs.
Running Back for Miami Dolphins (NFL), A Heisman Trophy-winner who played for the University of Texas. He co-owns a restaurant in Miami that serves meat, but he makes sure that there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly options on the menu.
Iron Mike, one of the most feared fighters in his generations, has taken on a warm and fuzzy persona that includes a shift to veganism for a healthier way of life.
Former MLB Player and a Member of The Baseball Hall of Fame. Aaron was the all-time home-run champion until his record was broken by Barry Bonds. Many baseball purists still regard him to be the all-time record holder because of Bond’s ties to steroids.
Arian Foster- NFL PLayer / Houston Texans
Bill Pearl- Four-time Mr. Universe
Brendan Brazier- Former professional Ironman triathlete (1998–2004), Ultra Marathon Champion
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