Arian Foster: 5 Other Successful Vegan or Vegetarian Athletes

Bruce ChenAnalyst IJuly 11, 2012

Arian Foster: 5 Other Successful Vegan or Vegetarian Athletes

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    I'm not a nutritionist, nor do I pretend to be. But I'm certainly dubious of Arian Foster's decision to go vegan a month before NFL training camps.

    I'm not here to write about the merits or demerits of veganism, but what I do know is that NFL athletes put considerable amounts of stress on their body when they train and play. They create micro-tears in their muscles and need protein to repair themselves. This is also the Arian Foster that had hamstring issues last season.

    But who knows? There are certainly some athletes, football players included, who have abstained from eating animal protein and animal-related products. You'd be surprised at this list, too. Some of these guys are household names.

Joe Namath

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    Crazy, huh? Broadway Joe is a man who has uh, so much taste for a particular brand of flesh, if you know what I mean. Yes, Joe Namath was, at one point at least, a vegetarian. His success and induction into the NFL Hall of Fame, and his legacy as a player suggest that a high-performance gridiron warrior can be successful without meat.

    I don't know that it's the same as Foster, though. Yes, to be a signal-caller, you need to be tough and your body had better be up to the challenge of facing physical pass-rushers, in an era where quarterbacks aren't protected like they are today.

    But I would argue that the amount of strength you need to push piles, fight for extra yards, and be a feature back is much more strenuous on the legs and upper body muscles than quarterbacking.  

Robert Parish

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    A key member of those championship winning teams on the 80's Boston Celtics, Parish played alongside Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and had a Hall of Fame career. 

    Perhaps his non-meat eating ways were what allowed him to maintain his lean, lanky frame for 20 NBA seasons. Yes, you read that right. Twenty seasons. 

    A nine-time All-Star, four-time NBA Champion, and two-time All-NBA selection provides a fine case for PETA when talking about successful vegetarian or vegan athletes. 

Hank Aaron

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    Milwaukee's "Hammerin' Hank" was the all-time home run champion before Barry Bonds broke his record five years ago. He made the All-Star team a staggering 25 times, was a World Series Champion in 1957 and the NL MVP in that year, a three-time Golden Glove winner, and generally considered one of the best of all time.

    His No. 44 is retired by the Braves and an inspiration to vegetarians and vegans everywhere.   

Prince Fielder

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    No, it didn't last long. I'm not sure he enjoyed the same lean-body benefits that Parish did, but at least he tried, right? 

    The Prince was vegetarian "for like three months", before succumbing to the temptations of the flesh. That said, he has a $240 million contract, two Home Run Derby trophies, two Silver Sluggers, and the 2011 All-Star Game MVP.

    Interestingly, he won the Hank Aaron award in 2007.  

Tony Gonzalez

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    The surefire Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez has taken his share of beatings and hits, while carrying some linebackers across the turf fighting for those extra yards. He experimented with veganism, vegetarianism, and cutting out red meat, before ultimately deciding he couldn't part with chicken or fish. 

    He actually has a similar situation to Arian Foster. He began the vegan diet when he had just signed a new contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, while Foster is embarking on the first year of his new deal.

    While Gonzalez kept up his production, the jury is still out as to whether Foster can do the same.