Thursday, March 22, 2012

March of the Hot Vegan Army - Day #22 - Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis

Know him from: Lewis is a former world-class athlete and 10-time Olympic Medal Winner (9 of these medals were gold). He also won 10 World Championship medals, and 8 of these were gold. His best year of track and field was in 1991, the first year he became vegan.

Why he's vegan: Carl had very bad eating habits when he attended the University of Houston. He was a competitive athlete, and he ate meat, but tried to control his weight in an unhealthy way, by skipping meals. He was so hungry by dinnertime that he ate to excess during this final meal of the day. Carl started to realize that he was not treating his body well, and wanted to make a change. Just at the right time it seems, he met Jay Kordich (a.k.a. the "Juiceman"), and Dr. John McDougall, who urges better living through improved nutrition. The former encouraged Carl to optimize his health with the power of fresh plant foods and their juices, and the latter urged Carl to try a vegetarian diet. Carl chose to go vegan in 1990, with support from McDougall, who told Carl that it was necessary to eat enough calories to sustain his energy levels through strenuous workouts and training. Plant foods are nutritionally rich, but not as calorie dense as meat, so more food volume is required to reach proper daily calorie levels. Many people, including Carl, appreciate this benefit, because it is possible to eat a much larger amount of plant foods without gaining weight, keeping one fuller and more satisfied.

Why he's awesome: It's pretty much fantastic if someone wins 1 Olympic medal (no matter what it's made out of) nevermind 10. And when you compete against the best athletes in the world and come out on top, it's pretty darn notable. As mentioned above, Carl credits his best year as an athlete, 1991, to his vegan diet. He won the 100 m competition at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, beating the #1 athletes in that event from the past 2 years, and setting a world record. He called it the best race of his life, and he was 30 years old, an age when many Olympic athletes are considered past their prime. That same year, Lewis also set a record in the long jump competition, that has still - as of the writing of this article - not been surpassed. It has even been suggested that Lewis is the greatest track and field athlete in history.

Since Lewis's retirement from world-class competitive sports in 1997, he has worked as an actor, and even tried to run for the Senate in New Jersey in 2011, but was disqualified due to state residency requirements. He has also created (see "website" above) and the Carl Lewis Foundation, in order to encourage people of all ages (but especially children) to live healthy and fit lifestyles. I think you have to be a pretty confident person, driven by your own goals, and completely self-motivated, to succeed in any one of the areas that Lewis has ventured into. I admire people who go after what they want, even if it doesn't make perfect sense to others. Carl Lewis is another vegan who proves that one can be healthy and meet many impressive health and fitness goals on a completely plant-based diet.

So Carl, I am thinking you are going to have to run the Boot Camp for the Hot Vegan Army. You have dominated in the health and fitness arena, and I think you could whip all the hot vegans into even more impressive shape. Welcome to the army man.

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