Being an athlete means being on the clock 24/7, because your physical performance is often also your source of income. You've heard the term "my body is a temple," but for these professionals their body may as well be their office, too. So, it's understandable that physical health is an incredible high priority for them. Many people once believed that meat was a crucial dietary staple in a healthy lifestyle, but that is no longer the case. There are many vegan or vegetarian athletes who—even at peak physical performance—have chosen to forgo meat, and that choice will not stop them from working on their passion. There are a huge number of reasons that people choose to go vegetarian, and being an athlete is certainly no excuse not to.
Going vegan or vegetarian may seem like a massive undertaking, but for some it's simply a lifelong state of being. Yes, even athletes. Bode Miller, a five-time Olympic medalist in alpine skiing, was raised as a vegetarian while growing up on an organic farm. That's right, this athlete has never consumed meat in his entire life and managed to make it all the way to the top of his field. Bode may not have chosen the vegetarian life, but he has chosen to maintain it throughout his sporting career with absolutely no detriment to his physical performance.
Another major reason for forgoing meat is the sheer love of animals. This ethical concern has caused many people to turn away from a meat-eating lifestyle. Both concerns for the treatment of animals in the meat industry and the general morality of killing animals for consumption have caused many a person to turn towards plant-based diets. Leading a lifestyle that aligns with a love of animals and supporting a passion for athletics are not mutually exclusive practices. Just take weightlifter Patrik Baboumian, the world's strongest vegan, for example. Baboumian has been weightlifting since 1999 and in 2005 chose to become a vegetarian, stating that because he could not himself kill the animals he was eating, he "better be honest" with himself and just give it all up. Six years later Baboumian went one step further, becoming a vegan, and now, he is a world record breaking strongman—no animal products necessary.
When you imagine the "typical" vegetarian athlete, you're probably thinking about someone with the lithe silhouette of ultramarathon runner, Scott Jurek. Meat equals protein equals muscle… right? Not necessarily. And if Baboumian's bulked-up frame isn't enough to prove that to you, then here are the facts.
Going vegetarian or vegan was once disparaged as a lifestyle that would inevitably lead to protein deficiency. This is roughly as accurate as saying if you eat the seeds a watermelon will grow in your stomach. Yes, meats are generally high in protein. And yes, consuming protein is essential to building muscle. But there are a huge number of viable vegetarian protein sources that would support that muscle just as well as meat. Maybe they won't be as protein-dense, but people can still get the necessary amount of protein from vegetarian sources without trouble. In fact, eating too much protein can actually negatively impact one's health, specifically the kidneys. Keeping a balanced diet is understandably a high priority for many athletes and there is no reason that meat needs to be involved.
With all that in mind, protein is not the end all be all of an athletic diet. Protein may be necessary to build muscle, but without the energy provided by carbohydrates to power those processes you may as well be eating cardboard. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, beans, and vegetables, are truly the key to an athletic lifestyle.
Tennis star Venus Williams has actually been living a completely raw vegan diet, which is incredibly rich in complex carbohydrates. This decision was originally due to her being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, but the diet is recommended to anyone who wants to combat fatigue. The raw vegan way of life has gone so well for Venus that her sister, Serena Williams, decided to adjust her diet as well. Although Serena is more of a "flexitarian," sometimes cheating with chicken or fish. For both of these sporty sisters, meat has been put on the backburner when it comes to their healthy lifestyles and athletic careers.
With all this in mind, there's no reason not to eschew the carnivorous lifestyle for something a little bit greener. You simply do not need meat to be an athlete, and all of the aforementioned examples are proof of that fact. With a balanced diet, a steady intake of vegetarian protein sources, and the continued consumption of healthy complex carbohydrates, these athletes are paving the way to encourage more meateaters to make a change in their lives for the better.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist