This struck me after I heard about it on ESPN sometime this morning, and it’s fascinating in the way that it defies our regular assumptions about athletes — Brewers 1B Prince Fielder says he’s given up eating meat, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Our conception of the American athlete kind of revolves around the beer-swilling, red-meat eating archetype, with very little in the way of variation, so while this is nowhere near some sort of Big Statement, it’s an anomaly in its own way, particularly because Fielder is still pushing the high end of the scale right now, but also because he was in a McDonald’s ad with his estranged dad years ago.
Fielder used to enjoy a stacked burger or a juicy steak as much as any carnivore, but a few weeks ago he received a book from his wife, Chanel, that changed his outlook on what he puts in his massive frame. The book described how certain animals are treated and slaughtered for food.
As Pat Lackey at the Fanhouse notes, that book was likely Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, and Fielder is having some of the same difficulties that most carnivores have about going totally vegetarian — getting used to the taste of meat substitutes, slathering ketchup all over Boca Burgers (and not even that can make them taste that good.)
Fielder does admit, “‘My wife said that if I lose some power, she’s cooking me a big steak.'” Still, it’s interesting that he went public with this — meat-eating is so ingrained into America itself (check your interstate for anything approaching vegetarian-friendly on your next road trip, though it’s getting better) and the way we perceive athletes to begin with, for both image and serious workout reasons. He’s got to replace the proteins from somewhere else, too, and that’s the challenge of the whole thing.
Still, an interesting facet to look at. Can he maintain his new stance with the demands of the game? Hope so.
(Disclaimer: I’m not a vegetarian, and probably never will be.)