Did you know that Greg Chappell is a strict vegan? I didn't until today when I read that he has also decided the Indian national side will stay off meat for the Champions Trophy.
Is it a good idea, or is at another crackpot scheme in the Buchanan boot camp mold?
For India it makes sense if, as reported, the quality of meat cannot be trusted in hot weather. But Chappell has been a vegan for years and in a variety of conditions, would it make a difference to his game?
It seems the man himself is convinced.
In an interview he said:
"From a fitness point of view I always struggled with long-distance running and fitness work, I was always tired and usually hungry. Within 24 hours of giving up dairy products my post-nasal drip had stopped, my energy levels rose and my ability to run and to train generally increased around 100%."
I'm not expert on veggie diets myself (although I did go vegan for a couple of weeks once to see how it went) but that sounds like a great thing to me.
However, Greg's experience alone is not enough to prove vegetarianism and cricket can go together. After all, there are some reservations that go with a veggie diet:
- Nutritional shortages. Meat and dairy are great sources of protein, calcium and vitamin B12. It's harder to get these as a vegan so you are more likely to get a deficiency.
- Convenience. We live in a meat and dairy world. Being vegan makes life much less convenient.
- Expense. A veggie diet tends to be more expensive to maintain.
The latter two of these are lifestyle based, which means the only issue that is a cricketing concern is not getting enough protein, calcium or vitamin B12. A deficiency in the diet leads to a reduction in cricket performance.
This is not reason alone to forget about playing cricket as a vegetarian. You can get plenty of protein from soy, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes. Calcium can come from green, leafy vegetables and a one-a-day b12 tablet will cover your vitamin needs.
So can vegetarians play cricket? Of course they can: Many vegans are healthier than meat eaters purely because they have to plan their diets more.
Should you switch to a non-meat diet? That's a choice you have to make based on your own lifestyle, health needs, morals and budget. It won't make any difference to your cricket if you are careful about what you eat.
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