The January 2006 issue of natürlich vegetarisch, Germany’s leading vegetarian magazine, published by the Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands e.V. (VEBU), features interviews with Alexander Dargatz, a twenty-eight-year-old world champion body-builder and physician and Elena Walendzik, a twenty-one-year-old featherweight boxer, who are heralded as “vegetarian stars of Germany.” And what makes these athletes stars in the vegetarian world is that they achieved their titles without consuming a single ounce of meat.
The 2005 World Champion Body-builder is a vegetarian
In December 2005, Alexander Dargatz won the World Champion Body-builder title, and headlines in Germany read, “German Vegan is Named Body-building World Champion in 2005!” The article went on to point out that Mr. Dargatz, of Frankfurt, competed against eleven other body-builders and went on to win a complete victory in the fitness class!
In a recent interview, Mr. Dargatz was asked about the success of combining a vegan diet with the rigors of his body-building regime and he replied that he has been a vegetarian for over five years, having become one “overnight” in the year 2000 after realizing the numerous ways in which animals and nature are abused through meat eating. He added, “It made me cry. There simply is no need for us to consume animal products, and we cause a lot of harm by doing so; that is the definition of crime. I couldn’t be anything else but vegan after understanding that.″
Mr. Dargatz also noted that his health has improved since becoming a vegetarian and that he almost never becomes ill anymore. Moreoever, Mr. Dargatz’s approach to body-building is very positively focused. When asked what he thought was the most important aspect of training, he said, “Patience. Patience and perseverance. Body-building takes time; you cannot force your muscles to grow. It takes time, persistence, dedication and love of what you’re doing.″ This practical approach to athletics can be applied to many other areas of life as well, including spiritual practice!
The boxer who relies on “tofu power” to win!
The second vegetarian sports champion featured in natürlich vegetatrisch is Elena Walendzik of Hanover, Germany. A student of dental medicine, Ms. Walendzik won the title of German featherweight boxing champion in 2005. Vegetarian since the age of ten, Ms. Walendzik is as practiced at not eating meat as she is at boxing. In an interview, Ms. Walendzik said that growing up on a farm taught her at an early age about what happens to cows when they fail to produce sufficient milk. From that point on, she could no longer consume meat.
However, this change has obviously not affected her motivation or performance level in the ring, and Germany’s press is as positive about Ms. Walendzik’s vegetarian status as her sports achievements, with newspaper headlines reading “Tofu Power for the Boxing Queen of Hanover!”
It may not be surprising to know that vegetarian societies were first formed over a hundred years ago in Germany, Great Britain and the United States. Of course, other countries such as India were more naturally vegetarian at that time, but in the Western world vegetarianism was considered a radical movement. In Germany, the first Vegetarian Society was founded in 1868 by Eduard Baltzer, who stated on behalf of its members, “Animal murder is not permitted for ethical reasons. The animal has its own right to life and requires protection by man.”
Since that time, vegetarianism has continued to rise in popularity, especially in recent decades, and Alexander Dargatz and Elena Walendzik provide excellent examples of this positive evolution in human awareness. These inspiring athletes are also outstanding representatives of compassion and of the great nutritional and health benefits of the vegetarian diet. Their actions and statements speak volumes on behalf of our animal friends and for other human beings who have deep respect for the sanctity of all life. Thus they may also be called “real heroes.”
http://www.vegetarierbund.de/nv/nv_2006_1__Inhalt.htm#Dargartz (in German)
http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/article/724 (in English)
http://www.ivu.org/history/europe19b/baltzer.html (in German and English)