NO MEAT AND NO DAIRY - BIG ADVANTAGE?
"Daniel made up his mind he would not defile himself with the king's meat and wine... ‘Let us be given plant foods to eat, and water to drink’... At the end of ten days, their appearance was handsomer, and they were stronger, than all the youths who had been eating the king's food." - Daniel 1:12, 15, 17, 18
Timothy Bradley has been a regular at Nature’s Express in Rancho Mirage, California, coming in three to four times a week for a sandwich and a shot of wheat grass after working out. He has a comfortable and genuinely friendly manner with a smile that lights up the whole cafe. When he talks about wanting to be a good role model for kids, his face develops a missionary zeal. After spending a few minutes with Bradley, it becomes quite evident - he is the real thing.
On December 12th, Timothy defends his title as champion of the World Boxing Organization Junior Welterweight Division (140 pounds) against also undefeated Lamont Peterson. When Tim goes into the ring, he brings a controversy with him that will completely rock the sports world over the next few years.
Everything else being equal, since Timothy goes vegan during intensive training, is he destined to win?
ESPN recently had an informative article that discussed the pros and cons of a completely plant based diet, highlighting the records of some notable vegan athletes. Check it out; they seem to suggest that the vegan diet just might be an added edge for athletes that want to be their best.
In the animal world, there are records for both the carnivorous and herbivore contenders. The cheetah, with its digestive system designed for meat, is the fastest sprinter on earth, clocked at 70 miles per hour. But the elephant, eating the plant-based diet fitting its physiology, is the endurance runner king, able to run faster than the fastest human sprinter for 10 hours straight at 25 miles per hour.
The question is not whether the human design favors a plant-based diet, which it does, nor whether we can adapt to animal based products, which we do, but rather, does following a vegan diet give an athlete a significant edge?
Surveys show that only one per cent of Americans are vegan and so it is no surprise that most top athletes are meat-eaters. Carl Lewis and Edwin Moses are most often cited as the top vegan athletes. More recently Tony Gonzalez, Pro Bowl tight end, switched to a vegan diet in the middle of his 'hall of fame’ career without losing any of his endurance or strength. He even states that his energy and alertness in the fourth quarter far exceeds what it was in his younger, pre-vegan diet seasons.
There is a growing list of athletes that are choosing to be vegan for the same various reasons that others do - health, the environment, or animal welfare. But increasingly, some athletes are turning to a vegan diet because they believe it will give them the edge in performance that will take them to the top of their game.
One thing is certain, whether Bradley wins or loses on December 12th, the controversy over athletic performance and vegan diets will continue. After all, Edwin Moses won 122 consecutive 400-meter hurdles between 1977 and 1988 without convincing a world of carnivorous skeptics that the Book of Daniel has been right for a few thousand years.