By Paula González
A little more than Patrik, 130 kilos, weighs the professional player of the American football league, the NFL, David Carter, who says on his website: 'I can honestly say that being vegan is not only the most efficient way to be strong and being fit is also the most human; everyone wins. ' David actively collaborates in the defense of animal rights by giving talks, education courses and making as many appearances in the media as requested.
Another muscle man is personal calisthenics trainer Cornelia Ritzke; With a legion of over 100,000 followers on Facebook alone, he gives tips for training on a daily basis. Cornelia is strong, fast and has perfectly defined abs. Your secret? Train like a warrior and eat a lot.
More than 600 thousand followers only on YouTube, he also has another king of calisthenics, Frank Medrano. Agile and fast, this American helps people reach their full potential through videos and personal training. In some interviews he acknowledges that he has grown faster and stronger after transitioning.
Vegan Bodybuilding founder Robert Cheeke also helps thousands of people train hard, to the limit, and sometimes under extreme conditions. Cheeke grew up on a farm in the United States, which led him to go vegan at age 15. All his raw strength as a bodybuilder has been acquired through plant proteins.
Not only professional athletes who compete in strength and muscle perform amazingly while being vegan, ultramarathoners Scott Jurek and Fiona Oakes also break records whenever they can. Jurek, the writer of the American bestseller "Eat, live, run", vegan since 1999, can do about 165 miles (265 kms approx.) In 24 hours. Could it be the spinach? Fiona Oakes, a British woman who went vegan out of compassion for animals, has three world records to her credit running in extreme conditions across the poles. Well chilled and protein, well, because this English athlete has been a vegetarian since she was 6 years old. In keeping with her way of life, Oakes runs an animal sanctuary in England.
Another of the first famous athletes to follow a vegan diet in 1990 and break a world record, the 100 meter sprint in 1991, was the famous Carl Lewis. And of course the incredible 'ironwoman' and doctor, Ruth Heidrich, winner of more than 900 trophies, 6 triathlon competitions, 8 Olympic gold medals and 67 marathons. A record that is very difficult to beat. Dr. Heidrich is also a breast cancer survivor and the author of three books. His last record was broken in 1999 by competing in the 60-65 age group.
More and more elite athletes and athletes are adopting a diet based only on plants and that, contrary to what is popularly believed, helps them achieve better marks. Many of these people, in addition, take the step, not only to improve their physical performance and test the ability of the human body to excel, but also because they have taken animal rights into account. Because they know that having power does not mean being right and that it is urgent that people adopt veganism as part of the solution to the situation of oppression of animals. So much so, that to reach more people, Brendan Brazier, ironman and triathlon athlete, even has his own line of vegan products.
And in Spain? We have the silver medalist in London 2012, Elena Congost Mohedano, who at just 28 years old, appears at the next Rio 2016 games to try to make a mark in two different athletics events. This young Catalan is also a teacher, currently studying a master's degree in neuroscience and giving motivational and self-improvement talks to different groups.
The two-time cycling champion of Spain in 2004 and 2014, Anna Ramírez Bauxell, tells VICE: 'it is about time that you stop believing that without meat you cannot perform at the highest level, you just need to eat conscientiously, like any other type of athlete regardless of their type of diet. 'Ramírez is an athlete also committed to the equality of women in sport and improving the attention they receive from the media. The effort of women, as she uses to say, must be rewarded equally as that of men.
To learn more about these vegan athletes, we spoke with professional soccer player Carlos Cuéllar about their diet and results. After his departure from Norwich, Cuéllar makes his debut this season back in Spain at UD Almería.
VICE: How long have you been vegan and why, Carlos?
Carlos Cuéllar: I have been vegan since last December. I made the decision by watching a documentary called "Forks Against Knives" that I came across by chance. When I saw it, I became very interested in the subject, I studied about it and I learned about the influence of the consumption of products from animals with the development of many diseases. Also, I discovered that there are many other athletes who are vegan and agree on all these theories that I had learned. They see their performance increased and they feel better and stronger. To this day, I have been able to verify first hand that it is true.
Are your diet and training as a professional soccer player compatible? Do you take any kind of supplement?
Diet and training are fully compatible. I have found that I recover my efforts better, I have more elasticity and I have more strength for longer. Regarding supplements, I don't take anything other than what my colleagues can take, with the difference that the proteins they take come from milk and mine from vegetables. I don't take anything special for being vegan.
Have you noticed any change in your performance?
"Yes, I feel stronger, I finish games better muscularly and I have the feeling that I can give more than I gave before, I recover better after efforts and I have gained elasticity."
Where have you eaten better in Spain or England?
Oddly enough, in England they ate very well, but there is no doubt that as in Spain, nowhere.
If you had to give a recommendation to other athletes who want to follow a completely vegetarian diet, what would it be?
I would recommend that you do not make a radical change and that you remove animal products little by little until finally reaching their totality. They will see their performance increase, they will have the feeling of having more vitality without having to resort to external stimulants and they will recover better after the efforts.
It seems incredible that the first thing that is questioned when we say that we are vegan is the issue of health or nutrition. These sports machines show with each triumph that it is possible, that it is a competitive advantage in their profession and that it has changed their lives to know that now, in addition, they do the morally right thing towards animals. Think of Babouniam's strength, Cuellar's plays or Ramírez's push with the bike the next time you go to laugh at your friend ‘the plant-eating’.