SPORTS
11/26/2015 10:02 am ET Updated Jan 03, 2017

12 Vegetarian Athletes That Will Be Avoiding Turkey On Thanksgiving

These men and women prove you don't need meat to be a top-tier athlete.

This Thursday, many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving dinner by heading from the kitchen to the dining room, carrying trays of Turkey in hand. But for some of our sports heroes, the food most associated with the holiday -- turkey -- will be barred from the table, as they continue to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle. From “Battle of the Sexes” tennis legend Billie Jean King to current Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter, these athletes have shoved aside the tryptophan and embraced a no-food-with-a-face mantra, finding less traditional means to get the energy needed to compete at the highest level.

So give these pros an extra helping of pie and keep the stuffing away -- below are just a handful of the athletes that will likely be sticking with Tofurky this Thursday.

  • Hannah Teter
    &ldquo;I have <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/avital-binshtock/hannah-teter-gold-medal-s_b_468137.html">such a love fo
    Cameron Spencer via Getty Images
    “I have such a love for animals that I can't justify having their heads cut off for me … Animals can't speak for themselves, but scientifically we know that they don't want to die," she said. "I feel stronger than I've ever been, mentally, physically, and emotionally. My plant-based diet has opened up more doors to being an athlete. It's a whole other level that I'm elevating to.”
  • Martina Navratilova
    &ldquo;<a href="https://vimeo.com/6458411">[I] believe my moving</a> to a more plant-based diet was a major reason that I was
    JOEL ROBINE via Getty Images
    [I] believe my moving to a more plant-based diet was a major reason that I was able to continue playing professional tennis through my 40’s," Navratilova said. "It made me mentally sharper and made [it] possible for me to endure the physical conditioning that is required to compete at that level.”
  • Tony La Russa
    "<a href="http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/one-on-one-with-tony-larussa/">Back in 1977,</a> when I was a player-coach,
    Rob Tringali/Sportschrome via Getty Images
    "Back in 1977, when I was a player-coach, I came back from a road trip, and my wife was watching a PBS documentary on how veal comes to the table. As soon as I walked in the door, she said, 'We will never eat veal again.' So that started it. Very soon after, all red meat disappeared from our plates, and the chicken and turkey, and then fish. Within a year to a year and a half, we were totally vegetarian," he explained.
  • Phil Neville
    &ldquo;I always used to think as a footballer, as a sportsman, that it was so important for me to eat meat, to have that in m
    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso via Getty Images
    “I always used to think as a footballer, as a sportsman, that it was so important for me to eat meat, to have that in my diet. I thought if I became a vegetarian that would take away a lot of the nutrients that I would require to be a professional footballer and an athlete. I was really ignorant.”
  • Ricky Williams
    "It's not compatible with the lifestyle of a professional football player on so many levels &hellip; People get weird about i
    Jay Gula via Getty Images
    "It's not compatible with the lifestyle of a professional football player on so many levels … People get weird about it. They don't understand it. It goes against what they believe. And it takes a lot of work," Williams said.
  • Griff Whalen
    "<a href="http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2014/11/09/indianapolis-colt-eats-plants/18779971/">I feel a lot lig
    Jeff Gross via Getty Images
    "I feel a lot lighter, faster, quicker on the field … There isn't that heavy feeling, that groggy feeling after I eat."

 

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