(NaturalNews) Vegan athletes are finding plant foods a source for renewed energy and achievement, and are proving, against the traditional wisdom favoring meat consumption, that a vegan diet will support competitive athletic performance. Three vegan star performers are Tony Gonzalez, a tight-end football player, Mac Danzig, a martial arts fighter and Brendan Brazier, a tri-athlete. Reasons these athletes gave for switching to a vegan diet were health and ethical issues related to meat consumption, long term health maintenance, and concern for the environment.
In an article titled "The 127 Lb Vegan," January 25, 2008, writer Reed Albergotti chronicles the odyssey of Tony Gonzalez of the Kansas City Chiefs, who switched to eating vegan after suffering a bout with Bell's palsy. Many doctors advise a vegetarian diet to combat this disorder. Gonzalez at age 31 was also concerned about shortened life span among athletes.
Prior to his brush with disease, Gonzalez had subscribed to the conventional wisdom about athletic performance. He ate steak, drank a gallon of milk a day, and loved macaroni and cheese. In ten seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Gonzalez established himself as the best tight end in the league. When he decided to become vegan, he worried that a vegan diet would not sustain his athletic performance. Under advice from a vegan strength coach, Gonzalez learned to prepare protein drinks, select fish oils and eat breads dense with whole grains, nuts and seeds to maintain his weight and strength. In his 11th season Gonzalez made 99 catches, and a nagging foot condition cleared up. He found renewed energy and stamina.
Like Gonzalez, Mac Danzig, a martial arts fighter, had encountered problems such as vertigo and ear infections. He discontinued milk and milk products, then gave up eating mammals and then poultry and fish in 2004, and eventually became vegan. Danzig says his diet improved his recovery from workouts while retaining his competitive edge. When questioned about his motives, Danzig, who is a nature enthusiast, cites environmental concerns.
Brendan Brazier is a vegan triathlete from Vancouver, Canada, who describes himself as 80% raw. He became vegetarian in 1990, and in 1998, a strict vegan. Since information on how to become a successful vegan athlete is not widely available, Brazier used trial and error. He noted that when he consumed highly processed protein isolate powders, he experienced muscle stiffness and joint pain. When he began to eat all raw, natural, alkalizing foods his recovery time improved, and his stiffness and pain faded.
Brazier is the author of "The Thrive Diet," and is a world recognized authority on plant-based nutrition. In 2006, Brazier won the National 50km Ultramarathon Championship, setting a new record. Brazier holds an impressive record of other triumphs. He credits his vegan diet to improved sleep and endurance. Brazier is a sought-after speaker who promotes environmental awareness, an interest also shared by Gonzalez and Danzig.