The words 'professional athlete' bring to mind toned bodies, strength, endurance... and incredibly large appetites. The average fan would naturally assume that the diets of athletes like Olympian Carl Lewis and slugger Hank Aaron include a lot of meat as a source of protein and bulk for their strong-bodied machines.
But that's not necessarily true. In fact, more current and former professional athletes than you would think have given up animal proteins and turned to a variety of alternative veggie-based diets instead.
Who, you ask? Carmelo Anthony, New York's most recent sports star, turns to vegetables when he's on a diet. Legendary boxer now turned TV host and pigeon-owner Mike Tyson is a recently converted vegan (yes, it's true!).
Former NBA star Robert Parish chose to chow down on vegetables before slam dunking for the Celtics while two of the greatest female tennis players in history are also both veg-heads. But the list does not end there, and includes multiple hall-of-famers and rising stars alike.
For those of you who are looking for inspiration to follow a meat-free diet and want a famous role model, or for those of you who just want to see who else is on this list, keep reading for more vegetable-loving athletes.
Below, the 10 Vegetarian Athletes Slideshow.
- Yasmin Fahr, The Daily Meal
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A Heisman Trophy-winner who played for the University of Texas (go Longhorns!), Williams left the game during the height of his career to explore yoga and marijuana, among other things. He co-owns a restaurant in Miami that serves meat, but he makes sure that there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly options on the menu. Related: 9 Foods Athletes Should Never Eat
A shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, this Atlanta Falcons tight end was a dual-sports star at UC Berkeley, playing both basketball and football for the Golden Bears. He enjoys eating his vegetables to fuel his body and career. Related: Extravagant Athlete Cakes
Son of former Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder and a strict vegetarian, budding Milwaukee Brewers first basemen Prince Fielder will be a star in the Major Leagues for years to come. Related: The Best Places to Watch Baseball
Carl Lewis, the American Olympic track hero of the 1980s who was on a vegan diet while competing (also famous for his failed attempt at singing the national anthem), is now trying his hand in politics, gunning for a place in the New Jersey senate. Related: What to Serve When Watching the Game
It seems like after his cameo in The Hangover, Iron Mike, one of the most feared fighters in his generations, has taken on a warm and fuzzy persona that includes a shift to veganism for a healthier way of life. The pro boxer now has his own television show about his obsession with pigeons. Related: 10 Best Athlete-Owned Restaurants
New York Jets hero Broadway Joe, also famous for being a playboy during the '60s and '70s, guaranteed a victory before the 1969 Super Bowl -- and delivered. You wouldn't think that this cocky former athlete would have experimented with vegetarianism as well. Related: The World's Healthiest Cuisines
New York's most recent sports celebrity after being traded to the Knicks from Denver a few months ago, Anthony turns vegetarian when he's on a diet. He's also husband to celebrity wife and former MTV VJ Lala. Related: Where The NBA Eats
Aaron was the all-time home-run champion until his record was broken by Barry Bonds. Many baseball purists still regard him to be the all-time record holder because of Bond's ties to steroids. Related: Take Me Out to the Bar Room
Billie Jean King, along with Martina Navratilova, are two of the most celebrated women's tennis players of all time -- both are also known for their achievements in championing women's and gay/lesbian rights. They are also both long-time vegetarians. Related: Athletes' Game-Day Diets
A former Heisman Trophy-winner at Michigan and Super Bowl MVP for the Green Bay Packers, Howard now makes his living in television covering college football for ESPN (and makes sure to eat his greens). Related: 10 Athlete Epicures
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