The sudden conversion of an NFL quarterback to the vegan lifestyle prompts a pork producer’s young daughter to post an emotional video rebuttal. Now, here’s the rest of the story.
I don’t often use this column to plug my colleagues’ work. The reporting and writing you’ll find on Drover’s CattleNetwork’s sister sites speak for themselves.
Literally, if you include the video clips and podcasts.
But there is an intriguing story and video segment on Pork Network by Associate Editor Angela Bowman that is worth a look and a listen (click here to check it out).
It features second grader Taylor Rohrig holding a baby pig, and you can probably stop right there. A cute little girl and her piglet is pretty tough to top, especially when the recipient of Taylor’s message, and the focal point of the story, is star-crossed 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
As most football fans know, Kaepernick was a golden boy just a few years ago. From out of nowhere, he took over the starting quarterback job in 2012 and improbably led San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII at the New Orleans Superdome, where the 49ers battled the Baltimore Ravens in a classic contest before falling just short 34-31.
In subsequent seasons, Kaepernick put up gaudy numbers, both passing and rushing, but not only did the other NFL teams catch on to his penchant for running out of the pocket, the 49ers as a team started a serious slide in the standings. By the end of 2014, former coach Jim Harbaugh had departed to coach the University of Michigan, Kaepernick had lost his starting job, and the team finished the 2015 season in last place in their division with a miserable 5-11 record.
Fast forward to this past offseason, when Kaepernick made news by his girlfriend Tweeting out that he had become a vegan, which is what prompted Taylor’s video rebuttal.
“Hey Colin,” Taylor said on her video. “I’ve been a 49er fan since I’ve been born. I can’t believe you’re a vegan now. That hurts my livestock-producing family.”
I appreciate Taylor’s “lifelong” loyalty, but leaving aside the fact that babies aren’t fans of anything other than eating, sleeping and clean diapers, she makes a great point: Vegans rarely consider the impact of their decisions on people. For most of them, it’s all about the animals. Period.
The real reason to go vegan
Now, for a brief lesson in reality for young Taylor and her family.
First of all, being a passionate sports fan inevitably brings frustration and heartbreak, along with celebrating the come-from-behind victories, the successful seasons or — if you’re really lucky — a once-in-a-lifetime championship.
Get used to being disappointed, Taylor, because the pain of losing comes with the territory.
But the most painful experience a sports fan has to endue is when their heroes betray their trust, either by jumping ship for more money elsewhere, or by turning out to be an unrequited lout.
In Kaepernick’s case, all indications are that he’s a decent guy, albeit someone with an inappropriately inflated ego. But understand the motives behind his recent vegan conversion — assuming it sticks — and even diehard Niners fans will find it a little easier to cut him some slack.
Start by answering this question: Why do a lot of guys become vegetarians, or switch political parties, or decide to go antiquing on weekends? The answer in all cases is the same: Because their girlfriend insisted.
In Kap’s case, his girlfriend is MTV personality Nessa Diab, who of course only goes by Nessa. No last name needed or wanted. She does celebrity interviews and hosts a video segment called “Girl Code,” which I’ve never seen and never will.
It was her idea to rope young Colin into the vegan lifestyle that is practically obligatory if you’re a hip, trendy TV personality looking to boost her career. And like a million guys before him, he agreed, and although Taylor doesn’t get it, we adults know the real reason why he made the switch.
Plus, Kaepernick’s career was in the tank. Now that San Francisco has a new coach and a new offensive system, why not make some big changes, in attitude as well as diet, and try to reclaim his starting spot?
Here’s one other factor to consider: He’s a multi-, multi-millionaire. Before the 2015 season, he signed a 6 year, $114-million-dollar contract, with $61 million guaranteed, that also included a $12.32 million signing bonus paid upfront.
Like so many other veggie celebrities enjoying seven-and eight-figure incomes, he isn’t going to be pushing a shopping cart through the aisles at his local SuperValu store, trying to find something for that night’s dinner that doesn’t contain any meat, poultry or dairy ingredients.
He can afford a personal shopper, a personal chef, and the luxury of eating meals that are undoubtedly tasty and nutritious but that would bust the food budget of 99% of American families.
Hopefully, Kaepernick gets his career, if not his diet, back on track. For the better part of three seasons, he was a great foil for us Seahawk fans, and watching him get picked off in the end zone on the final play of the NFC championship game in 2014 that sent Seattle to the Super Bowl was the exact opposite emotion of what poor Taylor is experiencing now.
She’ll get over her disappointment, and I’m here to predict that at some point down the road, Kaepernick will get over his vegan conversion, too.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.