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Veganism: Can lifestyle enhance athletic performance?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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This past summer, former heavyweight champion David Haye (26-2) of the U.K. announced he'd become a vegan.

“I watched a TV documentary about how animals are farmed, killed and prepared for us to eat,” Haye stated.

“I saw all those cows and pigs and realized I couldn't’t be a part of it any more. It was horrible. I did some research to make sure I could still obtain enough protein to fight and, once satisfied that I could, I stopped. I’ll never go back.”

So what is veganism?

Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products. Essentially, vegans do not eat any animal or anything that comes from an animal. An animal product is any material derived from animals, including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, honey, fur, leather, wool, and silk.

A vegan diet can include vegetables, grains, beans, legumes and fruits.

Due to the recent rise in veganism, numerous versions of vegan foods are available such as vegan hot dogs, ice cream, cheese and vegan mayonnaise.

Haye, of course, is on the comeback trail following a debilitating shoulder injury and is hoping his vegan diet will help keep him in optimal health.

Some will insist vegetarians have a faster recovery time for breathing rates and muscular performance than non-vegetarians. And although a few studies have collaborated those findings, it's not yet known they are certainties.

However, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a report issued by the U.S. Department of agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, affirmed those who adhere to a vegetarian diet are at reduced risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease.

In 2012 prior to his superfight with Manny Pacquiao, top 10 pound-for-pound fighter Tim Bradley credited his physical strength and superb conditioning to high-intensity training camps and his well-publicized vegan diet.

Dude, I swear, it's the most unbelievable feeling ever," Bradley told The Wall Street Journal in Spring 2012.

A former two-time champion, Bradley added, "The reason I love it so much is that I feel connected to the world."

"My thoughts are clearer, crisp. I am sharp. Everything is working perfectly—I feel clean. It's a weird feeling, man. It's just a weird feeling."

However, Houston Texans star running back Arian Foster, once a strict vegan, purportedly discovered bacon earlier this year and now insists he was deprived all of those years.


Can veganism really enhance athletic performance?

No known credible science validates it but, for whatever reason, it seems to be the latest rage.

A few other vegan athletes include:
  • Cam Awesome - American amateur boxer best known to win the US title in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014 and the Golden Gloves 2009, 2011 and 2013 at super heavyweight.

  • Austin Aries, Tag and singles wrestling
  • Emily Jans, Elite kickboxer
  • Michael Zigomanis, Pro hockey player
  • Tony Fiammetta, Pro football player
  • John Salley, former basketball player
  • Salim Stoudamire, pro basketball player
  • Mac Danzig, retired mixed martial artist


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