Apparently, there are a lot of vegans who think it’s not good enough to eat a plant-based diet for health & performance reasons unless it’s accompanied by fervent zealotry as well, according to people interviewed for a new article by The Guardian.

The story, entitled A vegan diet helps them win – but are sports stars committed to the cause? takes a look at the Forest Green Rovers football team, whose owner, multimillionaire Dale Vince, has removed all animal products from the team’s menu and from the stadium and gone entirely plant-based.

I would think that people who love animals would be thrilled that professional athletes are adopting a plant-based lifestyle for ANY reason, be it “selfish” performance and health reasons, or because they love animals and want to speak out about animal cruelty in the food industry.

But apparently for some people living the vegan lifestyle isn’t enough, if it’s not also accompanied by embracing the veganism dogma. The following is a quote from Brenda Carey, owner and editor of Vegan Health and Fitness magazine (emphasis mine):

“As an idealist, I wish that everyone would choose to eat vegan to relieve the suffering of animals. I also wish that everyone would care enough about the environment to want to avoid animal products as the number one cause of environmental destruction on the planet.

 

“There are many top vegan athletes who are vegan for these reasons – and yes, they get a performance boost. However, there are many high-profile vegan athletes who never mention anything but their personal, selfish benefits from avoiding animal products and eating more plants. We call those people ‘plant-based’ as they do not embrace a full vegan lifestyle, they just eat plants.

OMG Brenda, horror of horrors, these people are living exactly how you (claim to) want them to live in terms of action, but because they’re doing it for their own “selfish” reasons rather than being zealots for a cause, you’re not satisfied with the fact that they abstain from eating any meat? They’re just a bunch of terrible, horrible, no good very bad “plant-based” eaters! Wow, ok.

This is exactly the bullshit that people hate about sanctimonious extremists of the veganism ideology.

And combating this stereotype about people who eat plant-based diets is one of the reasons that I started living my Entovegan experiment publicly, which is #1 about individual human health and performance.

Yes, of COURSE planetary sustainability and the welfare of animals is an important part of the ethos. Sustainability in our food supply is the whole reason I’m a big believer in entomophagy in the first place! We can’t keep destroying the planet with cattle, for example – which isn’t healthy for humans to eat anyway – and expect to live long and prosperous.

But there’s nothing wrong with having one’s life and health and – in the case of pro athletes – sports performance, at the top of the list of reasons why you eat a certain way.

After all, an athlete isn’t going to have the platform to speak out about any causes if they don’t stay at the top of their game in terms of performance, and that means getting every little advantage they can get for body and mind. And if eating plants keeps them at the top and that gets talked about, that seems like a good thing, right?

Well, Neil Robinson, one of the world’s first self-proclaimed vegan footballers in the 1970’s, doesn’t agree.

I’m always skeptical when I hear that a sportsperson or celebrity has become ‘plant-based’ for health reasons. It dilutes veganism into being just a diet when in fact veganism is an ethos, a lifestyle of non-violence and compassion towards all living creatures.

Yes, the ethos of veganism can and may certainly play a role, for some people. But it’s like saying that riding a bicycle instead of driving a car is good for the planet, but it’s “not good enough unless you’re also a fervent environmentalist.”

That’s absurd and extremely dogmatic.

While I’m riding my bike around town actually DOING something good for the environment, you’re driving your petroleum-guzzling auto around with a “Save Mother Earth” bumper sticker, while judging me because I’m “only” riding my bike for health reasons, not fully embracing your dogmatic philosophical ones.

The hypocrite in that scenario is you in the car, not me doing my part and riding my bike, even with my definite self-interest in doing so.

Whatever your reasons for eating vegan – or healthier yet, entovegan! – I applaud you. You’re going to get healthier as a result, and you’re doing your individual part for the planet and to combat animal slaughterhouses, even if it’s unwittingly.

So who cares if this football team’s owner is playing on a growing trend and using it for marketing reasons. Because that “selfish” decision is actually:

  • Improving the health of the players and altering their diet likely for the long term, which serves as a model for other athletes
  • Introducing entire stadiums full of people to the plant-based diet, many of whom who would never have known it otherwise
  • Removing meat and dairy products from the training table and from all stadium kiosks, every game, thus saving the lives of all those animals plus cutting into the bottom line of meat and dairy companies
  • Boosting the sales and growth of local, organic, and plant-based food companies who are now supplying the team and stadium with vegan foods
  • Smart business via great viral marketing, which may increase profitability and allow for even more promotion of the vegan diet

But yeah, it’s not “purely for reasons of ethos”, so let’s just ignore all those amazing benefits for people, planet, and the plant-based movement. smh

That kind of thinking is quite simply idiotic. I’m all about the health of people and planet – but very clearly, people taking action to eat planet-based is good for them and good for the planet (and the animals that avoided getting eaten), regardless of motives.

Eat plants. Eat insects. Do it because it’s healthy, because it’s sustainable, or because you believe in higher causes. But think things through before spouting off negatively about those who are eating a plant-based diet for reasons that may be different than yours, or whose reasons are simply in a different order.

In the end, the more people who eat plant-based diets, the healthier humanity and planet earth will be. Period. To paraphrase a pair of famous songs, the world needs a little less talk about dogma, a lot more plant and insect eating action please!