Eco-Olympian of the Week: Carl Lewis

July 19, 2012

Legendary Olympic track and field athlete Carl Lewis embraces veganism and gives back to the planetEco News Network presents our favorite eco-celeb of the week. We love seeing what celebrities are up to, and that doesn’t mean when it comes to movies, television or music albums, but with how they’re giving back to the planet. This week, Carl Lewis caught our eye. See how the legendary Olympian contributes greatly to the environment through veganism and many other eco-friendly ways.

Olympic track and field athlete Carl Lewis may no longer be competing, but with the 2012 games quickly approaching it’s nice to recognize those that have made an impact in sport and environmental history.

The highly decorated athlete has nine Olympic gold medals, in addition to many, many more achievements. Now, this may or may not have anything to do with his athletic accomplishments, but did you know Carl maintains a vegan diet?

Carl revealed in Jannequin Bennett’s book “Very Vegetarian” how he got started on the meat-free track, “In the spring of 1991 – eight months after beginning to eat vegan…I was drinking 24 to 32 ounces of juice a day. I ate no dairy products. And I had my best year as an athlete ever! You have total control over what you put in your body. No one can force you to eat what you don’t want to eat.

“I know that many people think that eating a vegetarian diet – and especially a vegan diet – will require sacrifice and denial. Jannequin Bennett demonstrates…that eating vegan does not have to be tasteless and boring. As she says, ‘vegan eating is a truly indulgent way of life, as vegans regularly partake of the very best foods that nature has to offer.’ Your body is your temple. If you nourish it properly, it will be good to you and you will increase its longevity.”

Some people think athletes need all the protein – from meat – that they can get, but Carl and several others have proved them wrong.

In addition to his diet, Carl helps the planet in other ways. For example, in 2011 he visited Haiti to check out reforestation efforts and lend a helping hand to protect the country from flash floods and mudslides. As a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this should come as no surprise.

While visiting Haiti, Carl also checked out the country’s aftermath since the devastating earthquake. He visited a Fruit Trees for Haiti school project that focuses on reforesting and repairing watersheds; and checked out a tree nursery where children provide the planting materials and plant each tree themselves.

“Starting with educating kids is a very important step in stopping the cycle of environmental degradation which is now one of the most serious problems facing Haiti. What FAO is doing is tremendous and it makes me optimistic to see that Haitians are realizing they have to take care of their land. Trees are at the epicenter of Haiti’s renaissance,” Carl said.

An Olympic champion and supporter of Mother Earth; way to go Carl!

-Allyson Koerner

Photo Credit: Flickr/Doha Stadium Plus Qatar