There are any number of reasons why a person might decide to give up meat. For some men and women, adopting a vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan diet is a moral choice, a way of protesting the commercial slaughter of animals and the institution of factory farming. For others, the decision is based on health and science, with a number of recent studies pointing to the damaging effects meat can have on one’s body.
But for Cam Newton—a man most famous for hitting the dab, and, to a lesser extent, playing professional football—giving up meat is merely a test of willpower.
Appearing in the latest issue of GQ, Newton opened up about his new pescatarian lifestyle. The Carolina Panthers quarterback says he gave up red meat not because he felt any ethical obligation, but because he likes to test his own self-discipline.
He orders a green tea and a Shirley Temple, extra syrup. He orders the deviled eggs. He orders the mussels. He orders shrimp and grits, and also trout. He’s a pescatarian out of pure self-discipline. No other reason—just to prove to himself that he can. “I feel if I can control myself not to eat meat, I can control myself not to litter. If you can control yourself not to litter, then you can control your choice of words. If you control your choice of words, you can, you know, kind of go down from there.” He’s obsessed with testing himself. Obsessed with a certain level of control.
While Newton may be one of the few professional athletes to admit his love for a drink named after a 1930s child star, he’s far from the only athlete to give up certain meats.
LeBron James stopped eating pork years ago, and says the decision helped improve his performance on the basketball court. And Kendrick Farris, the only male US weightlifter to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics, is a vegan.