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NFL Player Arian Foster's New Vegan Diet Causes Controversy

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Arian Foster is known for battling it out on the football field as a running back for the Houston Texans, but he is now causing quite a stir with his new vegan diet.

Last week, Foster announced via Twitter his switch to veganism, “Officially a vegan now. We’ll see how this goes. But week one down. So far, so good. Feels wonderful.”

Even though he feels great, others aren’t impressed and are questioning whether he can play a tough game without meat in his system.

As NFL.com states, “Foster, something of a Renaissance man, set off alarms with those who care more about his yards per carry than his intestinal flora count. Many were concerned that an NFL running back might go soft if he stripped ribs and deviled eggs from his regiment.”

Some of Foster’s Twitter followers gave him a hard time for his announcement. In response to Foster saying he’s never drank an entire glass of milk, one twitterer went as far to say he did when he was a baby. Foster responded, “My mom didn’t produce cow milk.”

This is quite an interesting argument. Many athletes live and play with a veg diet and it doesn’t seem to slow them down.

For example, hockey player Mike Zigomanis, from the Toronto Marlies, embraces veganism, “It’s a stigma, I guess, when you’re a vegan and guys kind of label you. Hockey’s a big, macho sport. And when people think of vegans … what do you think of when you think of vegans? You tell me. Long hair. Tie-dyed T-shirt.

“There’s one representation. But there’s bodybuilders, there’s MMA fighters, football players, basketball players. Triathletes, a lot of them are vegan. All the ultra-marathon runners are vegan.”

As Zigomanis says, many other athletes dismiss meat from their diets. Such athletes include boxer Mike Tyson, Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, football player Desmond Howard and tennis star Venus Williams.

Who would have thought that someone cutting meat out of their daily eating regimen would cause such hullabaloo. As Foster says, “People feel so strong about meat and milk. I wish they felt this strong about peace.”

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  • Marisa

    It’s Mike Zigomanis, not Mark! 🙂 And he’s a lovely guy.

  • Lo

    Amazing. Good for Foster!

  • Jacob Jones

    You cannot play a full season, at RB, without intaking mass amounts of protein.. That’s just a fact.. Ed “Too Tall” Jones was a vegetarian, but would supplement his diet, with meat, during the season..

    • jonahblock

      hes the athlete, I think he knows what he is doing

    • There are plenty of plants that provide protein as well as quinoa, beans & lentils. Everyone NEEDS protein to live. You DO NOT have to get it from an animal source. This is a FACT!


    • Pat

      Sorry but that is false. There are hundreds of famous top level athletes -even Olympians- who are
      vegetarian or vegan. “Olympian of the Century” track star Carl Lewis,
      tennis champions Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, cricket star
      Anil Kumble, Mr. International bodybuilder Andreas Cahling, Heisman
      trophy winner Desmond Howard, Debbie Lawrence Olympic race-walker, four
      time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl, 4-time Olympic gold medalist Al Oerter,
      WBC World Middleweight Champion Keith Holmes, double Olympic Gold
      medalist in hurdles Edwin Moses, and Dave Scott, six-time Ironman
      triathlon winner, to name but a few.

      And finally, two-time winner of the most grueling ultra-marathon on
      earth is vegan Scott Jurek. Starting in Badwater in Death Valley and
      stretching 135 miles, it is known as “the most demanding and extreme
      running race offered anywhere on the planet covering 135 miles, nonstop,
      from Badwater to the trailhead of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain
      in the Lower 48. “Ultra” because this race is five marathons
      back-to-back with another three miles tacked on to the end.” “The
      several time winner? Vegan competior Scott Jurek.
      On his journey towards optimal health, Scott began transitioning to a
      vegetarian whole foods diet in 1997, while competing in several ultra
      trail races per year. In 1999, he adopted a vegan diet out of further
      health and environmental concerns. Scott continues to fuel his body on
      completely vegan diet while competing in 10-12 ultra-marathons per year
      in addition to his rigorous training schedule. All seven of his
      consecutive wins at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run were
      performed on vegan fuel.”

    • sls

      A vegan diet doesn’t seem to be hurting Tony Gonzalez.

    • MaxDWolf

      It is not a “fact”. It is the standard assumption. The fact is, we don’t have enough information either way about what the optimal protein intake for a top athlete is, let alone how different sports and positions within them might vary that. In the end anyway, it’s nobodies business but Fosters’. As long as he performs, even the coach has no say about it.

      • Roger Myers

        So are you saying that “only” animal protein will make you succeed as an athlete ( assumption ? ) or are you saying that all protein isn’t created equal? What is a “fact” is that plant protein is easier to digest than animal protein. A carnivore’s intestinal tract is much shorter than a herbivore’s intestinal tract ( 5 ft in humans ) Fact . Vegans live longer than meat eaters ( fact ) why does everybody push protein and never state how much does the human body need let alone have the ability to digest? You think the difference in intestinal tract sizes are an accident if the ratios are about 4 to 1? In food as in life, it’s always about the SOURCE.

        What evidence is there to support or disprove claims that high intake levels of protein help build muscle mass and better athletes? Muscles are made mostly of protein, so logically one would think that the more protein in the diet, the more muscle one should have. Certain types of exercise, weight lifting for example, do stimulate muscle growth. So, a combination of weight training and large amounts (the more, the better) should be beneficial, right? Not exactly. The most recent indications are that dietary protein in excess of the current recommended dietary allowance (0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day) is likely needed for optimal muscle growth (5.) “The current recommended dietary allowance doesn’t seem to be enough for elite athletes who are training every day, who are growing, or who are training especially hard right before an event” (6.) However, the benefit appears to plateau at intakes well below the levels typically consumed by many athletes. Thus, for best results, a diet high in protein is beneficial for muscle growth, but only to an extent. Once a certain intake level is reached, any additional protein taken in will not help build muscle mass any more.
        A study done by Fern et. al (1991) showed that greater gains in body mass occur over four weeks of heavy weight training when young men consumed 3.3 versus 1.3 grams if protein per kilogram of body mass. In addition a study done by Meredith et al. (1992) found that a daily dietary supplement containing 23 grams of protein combined with weight training can enhance muscle mass gains relative to similar subjects who trained with out the supplement. Both of the studies show support for the belief that increased protein in the diet can help increase muscle mass, but it should be noted that these effects were found with a combination of intake and training. These two studies further indicated that a protein intake of about 1.7 – 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, when combined with weight training will enhance muscle development compared with similar training with an intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (5.) However, it is important to note that there is little good evidence that the very high protein intakes (more than 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day) typically consumed by strength athletes are beneficial. Moreover, it is possible to obtain this quantity of protein without special supplementation assuming a mixed diet containing sufficient energy is consumed.
        Endurance athletes differ from strength training athletes because they do not develop the muscle mass that weight training athletes do. Endurance athletes, nevertheless can benefit from protein intakes over the recommended dietary allowance because the exercise they participate in does still alter protein metabolism, in a different way. In weight training glucose is used for energy and because weight training is intense, fat and protein cannot be use for energy production. The protein intake increase for strength athletes is to supplement and help tissue and muscle rebuilding, after the exercise. Because endurance athletes exercise for long periods of time, (2 – 5 hours at a time) they can use protein as a source of 5% – 10% of their total energy expended. This protein needs to be replaced as well as protein that is used for tissue repair, thus an elevated level of intake can be beneficial. The same applies to endurance athletes as strength training athletes — a point exists at which any more protein taken in is no longer beneficial.

    • Are you talking about ANIMAL protein? there are other sources of Proteins in case you did not know…..

  • Angela M. Kikuchi Kneale

    Happy V day Arian Foster

  • Sounds like it’s getting easier and easier for these guys to respond well to criticism. It’s hard to fight against a proven record. Go Foster!

  • Karen Coyne

    What a man! It takes a strong person to go against the masses and do what he knows is right. What courage and strength. Way to go, Foster!!! (The masses will catch up eventually, but they’ve got the most powerful industries in the world–meat, dairy, and egg–working hard to “prove” that their products need to be purchased. Too many sheep.)

  • Kudos to Arian Foster..and WAKE UP PEOPLE…you don’t need meat to have a strong healthy body!! It’s time to take the next step forward in the OLD Backward thinking..

  • L

    Fantastic!!! Hope more and more turn to plant based diets so people will get off my back about it…man…meat eaters can be quite strong in their opinions about our choices…perhaps consuming dead things makes one anxious and abnoxious 😉

  • openlcr

    Hay all – Read Rich Roll’s new book “Finding Ultra” He did 5 – YES 5 – Ironman events in one week!!!! And he is vegan!!! So shut up all you vegan non-believes and learn what the facts are.

  • Tim S, MS

    First off, kudos to Roger Meyers for going to the scientific literature for some guidance on this topic. One other thing to keep in mind is that dietary protein is not all created equal. Those who successfully follow a vegan or even vegetarian diet should know that most plant sources are “incomplete”, aka, they do not contain ALL of the essential amino acids (EAAs). One specific amino acid that animal protein, specifically whey, beats out all other protein sources in is Leucine. Research has suggested that leucine is likely the key amino acid in driving skeletal muscle protein synthesis (MPS). In fact, studies comparing supplementation with whey to equal amounts of casein (animal) or soy (plant) have shown greater increases in MPS with the whey supplementation and casein over soy. There’s also no doubt that leucine supplementation immediately pre and/or post workout has a synergistic effect with training to increase MPS. For example, this means that if training increased MPS by a factor of 1, and leucine supplementation increased MPS by a factor of 1, the two together increase MPS by a factor of 3 or 3.5, not 2. So, I think there is certainly an argument to be made that avoiding animal products could result in sub-optimal adaptations to TRAINING, which could, in turn, result in sub-optimal performance. HOWEVER, higher protein intake does not = higher performance.
    Another important point to consider is the amount of non-animal food that must be eaten to acheive a protein intake of 1.7-1.8 g/kg bodyweight for a 100+ kg athlete is significant. Plant sources simply can’t match animal sources as far as the density of protein, especially in regards to leucine content, which I mentioned previously as a key signaling nutrient of MPS. This may lower the overall “anabolic quality” of the diet if animal protein is replaced with plant protein.
    Finally, another important point to make when discussing the dietary habits of extremely high level athletes is that these people are the 1%. The genetically blessed. Chances are most of these people could eat Donuts for breakfast, McDonalds for lunch, and Pizza for dinner, every day, and STILL be a better athlete than you. It is highly doubtful a switch to veganism will ruin his career. Especially if he wisely chooses his foods so that his protein intake remains optimal, and the leucine content does not suffer dramatically, specifically around the pre/post workout time period.

    • anthony

      Vegetarians may get leucine from soybeans, lentils, nuts, seeds and hummus (chickpeas).
      For complete proteins ( all nine of the essential amino acids) eat the superfood quinoa.

      For Iron eat some kale. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. A serving of kale contains 121 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 92.4 mg of omega-6 fatty acids.

      There is no downside to eating a plant based diet.

  • Jack Xiao

    Become a vegan is just like having a Kechara Protection Chakras that may helps him to have a better and healthier body ~ and also he prove that a people who strong like him can also be a vegan, why cant we ?

  • Adam B.

    Who cares! As long as his performance on the field is not negatively impacted the man can do whatever he wants in his personal life.
    The Texans will still eat EVERYBODY’S LUNCH!!!!! Superbowl bound!!!

  • 1smoothoperator

    Original diet in Holy Bible is nuts,fruits and grains. I guess the master creator(GOD) knows what is best for our bodies….

  • anthony

    Elephants, Rhinos, Silver Back Gorillas, Hippos, Bulls and many of the largest dinosaurs all eat veggies. Think about it

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