By Yasmin Fahr

The words "professional athlete" bring to mind toned bodies, strength, endurance ... and incredibly large appetites. The average fan would naturally assume that the diets of athletes like Olympian Carl Lewis and slugger Hank Aaron include a lot of meat as a source of protein and bulk for their strong-bodied machines.

But that's not necessarily true. In fact, more current and former professional athletes than you would think have given up animal proteins and turned to a variety of alternative veggie-based diets instead.

Who, you ask? Carmelo Anthony, New York's most recent sports star, turns to vegetables when he's on a diet. Legendary boxer now turned TV host and pigeon-owner Mike Tyson is a recently converted vegan (yes, it's true!).

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Slideshow: 10 Vegetarian Athletes

Former NBA star Robert Parish chose to chow down on vegetables before slam dunking for the Celtics while two of the greatest female tennis players in history (Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova) are also both veg-heads. But the list does not end there, and includes multiple hall-of-famers and rising stars alike.

For those of you who are looking for inspiration to follow a meat-free diet and want a famous role model, or for those of you who just want to see who else is on this list, see The Daily Meal's list of more vegetable-loving athletes.

The list:

Ricky Williams

Tony Gonzalez

Prince Fielder

Carl Lewis

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By Maryse Chevriere

Sometimes even die-hard baseball fans miss out on getting tickets to a big game. Can't make it to Phoenix for the All-Star game, for example? Not to worry -- there is still a place where decked-out-in-gear enthusiasts can congregate to cheer on the players representing their beloved team. That place, of course, is the sports bar.

But not just any kind of sports bar. We're talking about the places for the I-live-for-the-[insert baseball team name here] fan. Those watering holes where memorabilia cakes the walls, team jerseys are like an unspoken dress code requirement, and big screen(s) are always front and center. Places like the famous Yankee Tavern in New York City -- just steps from the stadium -- which always packs in pinstripe-clad crowd on game day. Or divey Dallas favorite, Milo Butterfingers, which can always be counted on for at least two things: Cheap drinks and TVs screening the Rangers game.

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From New York and Boston to Chicago and Los Angeles, check out The Daily Meal’s top spots for local fans to take in the ballgame.

The list:

All-Star Game in Phoenix & Diamondbacks fans

Yankees fans

Red Sox fans

Cubs fans

Phillies fans

Dodgers fans

Cardinals fans

Slideshow: The best places to watch baseball

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By Kelly Alexander

Most of us never have to worry about how to put more calories into our bodies; there's always another carnitas taco or crème brûlée right around the corner. But if you're a professional athlete who measures more than seven feet tall -- like, say, Yao Ming -- your frame still looks lanky even when you're packing 310 pounds, and you've got to keep up appearances. The need for copious nourishment -- along with the fact that brutal travel schedules give NBA players like LeBron James and Kevin Garnett the chance to sample lots of restaurant meals on the road -- has turned many of these sports stars into amateur food experts … of a sort, at least.

What do NBA players like Gilbert Arenas, Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker look for in a restaurant? These dudes aren't Yelp-ing locavores sniffing out some hot new under-the-radar Indian-Vietnamese-barbecue fusion joint serving five-dollar shrimp tikka-smoked pork skin summer rolls. Of course, if a local restaurant is trendy or newsy enough, a food-interested NBA player has likely heard of it.

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Slideshow: Where NBA players eat

A player's age also dictates what he likes: Veterans are likely to be the more adventuresome bunch as opposed to rookies, the majority of whom still opt for fast food. Some of the league favorites right now are: Sotto Sotto in Toronto; 220 in Detroit; Prime 112 in Miami Beach; Katana in West Hollywood (Tony Battie loves the chicken meatball yakitori); Crustacean in Beverly Hills; Phillippe Chow in New York; 10 Arts in the Philadelphia Ritz Carlton; and Murray's in Minneapolis.

In general, though, NBAers tend to stick to the tried-and-true upscale chains, the places where they already know what they like (hint: it's usually steak) and where they can rely on the food to be, if not exactly inspired, then consistently tasty. Why chains? We asked Henry Abbott, founder and editor of, ESPN's NBA blog. "One," he says, "the portions are huge; two, these places have alcohol and this is the first stop in a night out clubbing. Also, places like this count socially as going out to a nice restaurant without making anyone in a player's entourage uncomfortable, unlike, say, the French restaurant du jour … and there's plenty of room for their long legs.”

Just in time for the NBA playoffs, here are the places where some of your favorite hoops stars eat.

The list:

Kobe Bryant

Gilbert Arenas

LeBron James

Kevin Garnett

Dwyane Wade

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Joseph Doyle watches the most exciting two minutes in sports from the rooftop of Churchill Downs. He stands high above the track, high above the fancy hats and cheering masses. He's more than a fan, but he's no gambler.

"I don't pick horses, just the food," he says.

Chef Jo-Jo, as Doyle is known, has been the executive chef at Churchill Downs for three years now. The only peace he gets from feeding the masses who come for the Kentucky Derby is the two minutes everyone else is in a frenzy for.

"I always take time for that. You have to see 150,000 people singing 'My Old Kentucky Home' with their mint julep in their hand watching those horses walk the track," Doyle says. "I get chill bumps."

He and the team from Levy restaurants, who are charged with the catering of Churchill Downs, have been hard at work ordering, prepping and cooking staggering quantities of food for the big weekend, which includes the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Roughly a quarter of a million people will come to the races. And they come hungry.

This week Doyle has flown in a team of 44 chefs who direct 3,000 support workers to handle the massive kitchen load. Here's just a sampling: 32,400 jumbo shrimp; 142,000 hot dogs; 300,000 strawberries; and more than a ton of mint for the official Derby drink, the Mint Julep. But as incomprehensible as those numbers seem, they aren’t what shocks Chef Jo-Jo the most.

"The turkey," he says. "I'm ordering 14,000 pounds of turkey this week alone."

To put that in perspective, imagine a turkey the size of an adult male elephant.

Doyle has added a new menu item do the Derby this year, the Superfecta burger. It has four types of meat, including a patty made of beef and chorizo. It's then topped with shredded pork shoulder and bacon. The behemoth is finished off with bbq sauce, cole slaw and pepperjack cheese.
"It's all about the wow," he says. "We want people to see it and say, 'Wow, where did you get that!?'"

It's sold in the general concession stand, so it's available to everyone from the nosebleeds to millionaire's row. And don't think the celebs pass on meals.

"A couple years ago, Wade, Jordan, Barkley and the fellas were up there enjoying the race," Doyle says. "They were dressed to the nines and really into it."

Chef Jo-Jo is more of an MMA fan himself, but he does follow the Heat. He started with Levy Restaurants at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami and has a championship ring from his time there.

"I never really thought this is where I'd land. I'm the chef of Churchill Downs," he says. "How many people can say that?"

Just one, but there is no rest for the weary. Doyle says he began preparing for next year’s Derby two weeks ago. At least he'll get his two minute break on Saturday.

Visit the Daily Meal for the ultimate food guide to the Kentucky Derby.

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