On Arian Foster's new vegan diet

Is a vegan running back going to lack power?

The image some of us carry in our heads of a prototypical, carry-the-load running back is a bruiser who eats his red meat raw, when he’s not snacking on old tires.

I suspect the Texans Arian Foster will be just fine without eating animals or animal products.

But never mind my suspicions.

I spoke with Jessica Bennett, a registered dietitian who works at Vanderbilt University’s nutrition clinic in Nashville and assists the school’s athletes.

She said the college athletes who have gone vegan that she’s worked with have generally returned to a vegetarian diet or even one that includes meat.

“The biggest challenge for them is if they get injured, getting the muscle strength back,” she said. “It’s definitely possible to get enough protein, but you have to have the resources. He probably has the resources to do it properly.”

As a vegan, Foster will have to look to tofu, beans and legumes for protein.

At his listed weight of 229 pounds from last season, Benet said as a strength and power athlete, Foster will need about 175 grams of protein a day.

Per Bennett:

  • A three-ounce piece of meat -- roughly the size of a deck of cards -- has roughly 25 grams of protein.

  • A half cup of tofu has 19 grams of protein.

  • A half cup of black beans has seven grams of protein.

Minus meat, Greek yogurt and milk, getting those 175 grams a day can be challenging she said. The staff responsible for feeding the Texans on the road will also have to work to set Foster up with what he needs.

There are protein powders that can help -- but Bennett talked of many being unregulated.

Because of the NFL’s strict banned substances list, any protein powder Foster uses will be one he’s had looked over and approved by Houston’s training staff. (He didn't quickly return a message I left him to talk of this, perhaps he still might.)

In the Twitter conversation Foster’s mention of going vegan set off, he mentioned that he and Roberta Anding, the Texans' nutritionist, follow each other’s accounts.

Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez is among athletes who have adopted a vegan diet, according to this recent ESPNW piece by Sharon Liao.

Foster is a disciplined and interesting guy. He wouldn't make this choice without researching it and knowing what he's doing. If it somehow negatively impacts him he'll change course, I'm confident.

I look forward to hearing more from him about it.