Many of the great athletes of our time have a strict vegetarian diet. They generally don’t go out there waving “Don’t Eat Meat” banners. They just live the healthy life and let their actions speak for them.

“How can I build a strong and beautiful body on a vegetarian diet – without meat?” That’s what we’ve been told all our lives. Many people believe these statements but they just aren’t true. How can we dispel this myth and convince people otherwise?

A challenge was presented to me by one of the managers of a local gym : “Joe, you name me one professional body builder who doesn’t eat meat. Just one.” “All of them eat meat,” he said. So I did some research. It turned out that four-time Mr. Universe, Bill Pearl, is on a pure vegetarian diet. So is Dave Scott, the only man to ever win the Ironman Triathlon six times (no one else has ever won more than twice). However, he’s not doing as well as he used to. Now well into his forties, he only took second place in the last competition (chuckle). Hank Aaron, baseball’s all-time home run hitting champ, is also a pure vegetarian.

Through my research, I discovered that many of the great athletes of our time are on a strict vegetarian diet. Famous actress and stuntwoman Spice Williams is absolutely beautiful. She’s got a sculptured build, not big and bulky like most female bodybuilders, and again, she’s a pure vegetarian.

As these bodybuilders were growing up, they were taught like you and I that you have to eat meat for protein to build muscle. Most of them had to change because of disease, drug addiction, or because they realized that steroids were killing them. They turned their lives around completely, went on a vegetarian diet, and remained champions.

You can, in fact, perform better by not eating animal protein. One of the problems with meat in recent years is that it’s full of steroids, chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics. Many say we need lots of protein to build muscle mass. But when Arnold Schwarzenegger was Mr. Universe, he reported that only about 9% of his food intake was protein and the only animal protein he ate was tuna fish. He later said that he was probably taking in too much protein to get to his level of development.

Infants needs a lot more protein (percentage wise) than you or I do because they grow at a much faster rate. You would think they would take in 20-30%. But mother’s milk, which is what they’re designed to grow on, only has 1.5-3% protein. So you and I certainly don’t need more than that. And professional bodybuilders don’t either.

If you’re eating fruits and vegetables, you’re getting the 1.5-3%. Grains are a little higher and nuts are higher still. But if you’re still worried that you’re not getting enough protein, throw a couple of handfuls of nuts into your diet every day and you’ll have far more than you need.

Animal protein is highly acidic and causes you to develop calcium deficiency. When you put acid into your body, it has to be neutralized. Our bodies do this with calcium. Acids are free radicals that run through your body eating your calcium like Pac-man. The more animal protein you put into your body, the more calcium you’re using to neutralize it. Eventually your calcium stores are used up and your bones become very brittle. In many cases, this is the cause of osteoporosis.

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