Professional football player David Carter wanted to do something special for his wife to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
But what started out as a romantic gift for his wife, Paige, has now evolved into a complete lifestyle change for Carter.
In a show of solidarity and dedication to his vegan wife, Carter swore off meat and dairy.
“I became a vegan on Valentine’s Day as a gift to my wife,” he said. “But it turned out to be a gift to myself.”
As a football player on the biggest stage, Carter worried at first if he would be able to maintain his workout regimens without meat protein, but after enough research he found that he could maintain his physical prowess without the traditional meat-laden meals.
“When you’re a vegan, a lot of people think you’re weak,” he said. “They wonder where you get your protein from.
“I started thinking, where do gorillas get their protein? They don’t eat meat. They get their protein from plants.”
Carter, a defensive lineman who played at UCLA before spending seasons with the Cardinals and Cowboys, said his weight lifting didn’t suffer after going green and his agility and quickness went through the roof.
He also noticed nagging injuries like tendinitis in his joints and nerve damage in his fingers started to heal.
“The injuries just went away,” he said. “The nerve damage, the tendinitis was gone. All this time I had been eating meat and dairy and it was counter-productive.
“I watched this documentary, ‘Forks over Knives,’ and it changed my life.”
Armed with the tools and knowledge needed to be a vegan and elite athlete, Carter dove further into the vegan lifestyle.
“I love animals, but the vegan thing started out as a health thing.” Carter said. “But quickly after that, the humanity and ethics part started to sink in. After you do the research, after being a vegan, you start to look at the way the animals are treated and the process in which they go through. A lot of the stuff is unnecessary.”
And with that in mind, Carter has started speaking publicly about his transition and new approach to health and exercise.
His next stop will be as a guest speaker at today’s Music in the Meadow event hosted by Animal Place.
“They are great people,” Carter said of the Animal Place staff. “I admire what they are doing. It’s cool, sad and eye-opening.”
Animal Place, a local sanctuary for farmed animals, is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the Music in the Meadow event, which will feature Carter, several bands and tours of the facility.
“It’s a lovely day at the venue where you can enjoy some music and good vegan food,” executive director Kim Sturla said. “The goal is to introduce people to Animal Place and have a great time.”
The event is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Animal Place, located at 17314 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley.
“He’s humongous,” Sturla said of Carter. “The guy is huge. And he was so overwhelmed with gratitude for Animal Place. It was heartwarming.”
Carter took a tour of Animal Place on Monday and said he was moved by the efforts of the staff.
Joining Carter as celebrity guests will be Jellybean and Mr. G, who have recently become YouTube sensations, garnering more than 5 million hits in just a few days. To view the video, visit http://animalplace.org.
Tickets for Music in the Meadow are available at the event for $35 for adults, $15 for kids, $75 for VIP and kids 2 years and younger get in free. All funds raised by Music in the Meadow help sustain Animal Place.
“Hopefully, we can raise some money and it will go straight into the animals’ mouths,” Sturla said.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.