Many thought the era of performance-enhancing drugs was over, but multiple players have tested positive for synthetic testosterone over the past couple of weeks. Both Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants, statistically their best hitter this year, and Bartolo Colon of the Oakland A’s, who was enjoying a bit of a career resurgence at age 39, were both hit with 50 game suspensions for using the PED’s. On top of all this, Victor Conte, famous for founding BALCO and supplying steroids to Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, said he is sure that use of PED’s is still rampant in baseball.
If the use of synthetic testosterone is as prevalent as Conte claims, baseball’s got a big problem. But why would baseball players be using this stuff? Home run totals are still down from where they were during the steroid era, so the motivation can’t be purely for strength (not to mention, Cabrera had only hit 12 home runs prior to his positive test results).
Although increased strength is a motivating factor, another major reason to take these drugs is to increase durability and stamina. The Major League Baseball season is long – 162 games – and at times, especially in the dog days of summer, the lengthy season can wear on players. So what could baseball players do to get a leg up on the competition besides taking performance-enhancing drugs? Adopt a plant-based diet, obviously!
There are more vegan and mostly vegan athletes out there than you may think, (including endurance athletes Rich Roll, Scott Jurek, and Brendan Brazier, UFC fighter Mac Danzig, boxer Timothy Bradley, snowboarder Hannah Teter, and NFL stars Tony Gonzalez and Arian Foster) and the most common benefit noted by them is reduced inflammation and shortened recovery time between workouts. These advantages come in part from consuming high antioxidant foods, which can curtail the oxidative stress athletes typically incur on their bodies. Additionally, consuming high levels of micronutrients heightens the body’s immune functions, which could help athletes deal with odd hours and long travel. With the long grind of a MLB season and all the stress put on their arms, legs, and core muscles, baseball players on plant-based diets would have more energy throughout the season, get sick less, and have to deal with less inflammation in their bodies.
Another part of the motivation to take synthetic steroids in the past (Roger Clemens anyone?) has been to lengthen a players career. In the case of Colon, the rather portly pitcher has logged a tremendous amount of innings in his career and gone through several arm surgeries. Many players have taken human growth hormone in the past to extend their playing careers, and the synthetic testosterone could have a similar effect. Again, players would be better served by eating a plant-based diet. Dr. Joel Furhman writes, “When a person eats a healthful plant-centered diet, their hormonal levels (this is true of both testosterone and estrogen) will be lower, not higher, throughout life. Then, as they get older, the percentage of decline will be less dramatic. Additionally, since the body is accustomed to lower than average levels for all those years, the hormonal receptors are increased in number, so the effects of the age-related decline in hormones are hardly noticed.” (The Myth of Anti-Aging Hormones, Dr. Furhman’s Healthy Times, July 2004) Additionally, higher testosterone levels are strongly linked with incidences of prostate cancer.
So let’s see…less wear and tear on the body, more energy, lengthened careers, and less risk of cancer later on in life? And I’m only scratching the surface of the benefits! If I were playing in the MLB (why couldn’t you just have made me 4 inches taller, Mom and Dad!), I’d tell every player to try out a plant-based diet. Matt Kemp, are you listening?