Posts Tagged ‘mixed martial arts

30
Nov
08

Veganism

The other day while I was in the corner store, I was flipping through a mixed martial arts magazine. An article profiled a UFC fighter who was a vegan, that is, he eats only vegetables–no dairy or eggs etc. In the article, the fighter was interviewed. He stated that when he first came into the UFC, the fighters were given a bench press test, probably similar to what is given to college football players at a combine. He practically boasted that he could only do two or so repetitions, while all of the other fighters did about twenty. This fighter bore all of the hallmarks of a vegan-athlete: Sallow and pale skin, overly thin. To make matters worse, he seemed to have taken up a rather odd ritual prior to his fights: Drinking his own urine. He stated that in order to ensure his system was clear of any foods, he would begin drinking his own urine until he defecated nothing but urine….

With more wins than losses in this fighter’s short career, I applaud the fact that he’s managed to do what he’s done, despite the fact that everything he’s doing with his diet is counter-productive and downright lunacy. To me, this fighter is acting like the bearded lady at a circus. People want to watch him, not because he’s a great at something, but because he’s an oddity.

A fighter can always make use of strength. Let’s not be too romantic about technique and all of that garbage. Punching hard and fast or being able to lift another fighter from the ground and slam him onto the ground before taking a mount position is all the technique some need. It’s called ground-and-pound, and it’s worked very well for many. And even if a fighter is a master of submissions or a great technical striker, having great strength and knowing how to use it can only help. Strength need not be divorced from technique. When we did New Army Combatives in my training, (It’s basically Brazillian Ju-Jitsu), I found that I was stronger than every person I faced. All of the techniques they had been shown didn’t much matter. I’d lay them in my guard, clamp their head against my chest with an interlocking grip, and arch my back hard. Most would tap in less than thirty seconds. One guy told me he could feel his vertebrae seperating. Now, as the week bore on, each day starting with almost two hours of grappling, I found my strength waning. Fatigue was setting in. I had to rely on technique more and more and there was not the instant domination of before. This proves that strength is an important factor. Though I was never beaten in training, there were two people that I was unable to force to “tap out” in our three minutes of alloted grappling time.

Getting back on track–veganism is a horrible choice for any athlete, and for most other people. It’s yet another way people try to make the world be as they think it should be, not as it is. The human body cannot digest most plant matter. Most of the digestable portions of a plant are encapsulated within walls of cellulose,and since we’re not cows, our bodies don’t have the enzymes to break down those walls. Chewing and cooking can release some of the nutrients however. That’s why raw veganism is even worse than the ordinary sort of veganism.

The USDA recommends about .75 grams of protien intake for every kg (2.2 lbs) of your body weight, per day. For athletes, the requirement is much higher: from 1.2 grams to 2 grams per kg of bodyweight. It’s very difficult to acheive this with a vegan diet, and people will see a significant decline in strength and sense of well-being if those levels are not met, particularly if they are training hard. I’ve experimented myself with vegetarianism. I’ve also gone high protein. There’s no comparison. I need protein and lots of it.

Tony Gonzalez, the All-Pro tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, went vegetarian last year. Look at his performance now. I never see a highlight with him in it, while before, he was probably the best at his position, in the game. In an interview, he said that when he first started his new diet, he could barely lift any weight in the weightroom; he’d experienced a significant decline in strength since becoming a vegetarian. Only after adding lots of beans to his diet did he regain his strength. That seems like a circuitous route to his goal.

Some want to talk about veganism being a moral choice. I don’t think it’s moral to go against nature. There may be arguments as to what nature actually constitues, but here the message is clear: Vegans are physically weaker, thinner, have weaker bones and their diet lacks important B vitamins obtainable only through meat products. The long term effects of B vitamin deficiency are psycological problems ( I could get further into the mental make up of most vegans that I’ve met, but i’ll spare you), vision problems and nerve damage. How is this moral?

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