Georges Laraque, vegan ice hockey player
Life is tough on the ice
At 6'3" and 116kg Georges is an imposing figure on the ice. After playing in lower leagues George started playing in the Canadian National Hockey league in the 1997-8 season, for Edmonton. During that time he gained a reputation as an aggressive player, and was unanimously named "Best Fighter" by Hockey News in 2003. In 2008 he signed for Montreal Canadiens.
Georges played in the 'Enforcer' position, which is considered one of the hardest roles to play in any sport. A BBC article (which you can read here) asks 'Are ice hockey 'enforcers' the toughest guys in sport?' and describes Georges as "a monstrous tough guy whose highly successful NHL career included stints with the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens."
Many people speculated that his aggression was instigated by his early experiences as a black player in a predominantly white sport. George suffered verbal abuse, spitting and assaults to the extent that at 12 his father stopped him from playing. Georges has also been recognised for his skill and Sports Illustrated named him as the top Enforcer nationally in 2008. Although playing as an enforcer, he has also scored regularly.
He was also famous for the "Laraque Leap" which involved a body slam into the glass in celebrating a goal. George retired in June 2010 as he was unable to overcome the two herniated disks in his back. Immediately he turned to charity work to assist the people of Haiti, the country where both his parents were born.
Georges became vegan in 2009. "I decided to become vegan after I saw the movie called "EARTHLINGS, which shows in details the cruelty animals go through to end up on your plate" he explains on his website. "Vegetarians save hundreds of animals a year and vegans save thousands from a life filled with suffering and the most painful death imaginable. Not only is vegetarianism good for animals, but it is also good for our health and environment. Even though it's quite a change in terms of nutrition, I have never felt better or so healthy in my life. Considering that I'm a professional athlete, that's quite important."
Georges continues to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. He runs and trains in yoga, skating and in the gym among others. He is also active with Canada's Green Party and has been appointed Deputy Leader.
"If you want to try to be a vegetarian, but are under the impression that you will not get enough protein or that you will look skinny, rest assured that there is tons of protein in vegetarian products that are much better for your health because vegetarian products aren't filled with the cholesterol that animal protein is filled with. Some of the greatest athletes in the world are vegetarians."