Contrary to the popular view of vegans as scrawny and undernourished, there are many athletes who follow a vegan diet. A recent piece in VegNews (sadly not available online) profiled several of them, including their “favorite way to get protein” (most often brown rice or soy protein powder).
But until recently, veganism in the athletics world was fairly unusual. It was also more popular in sports like cycling and running, where endurance was more important than bulk. But could a football player, who needs thousands of calories and massive amounts of daily protein, give up meat, dairy, and eggs?
As it turns out, yes. Friday’s issue of the Wall Street Journal profiles Tony Gonzalez, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end who went vegan for health reasons this season.
The entertaining piece, which quotes an approving Kim Barnouin, coauthor of Skinny Bitch, follows Gonzalez from his decision to go vegan shortly before preseason training through the end of the season. When he shows up to training, he’s horrified to discover that “the 100-pound dumbbells he used to easily throw around felt like lead weights.”
But after getting expert shopping and diet advice from a vegan trainer, he gained weight and got his strength back, just in time to break the NFL tight-end record for career receptions and touchdowns.