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Georges Laraque

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The Montreal Canadiens hockey team got a fighter when they traded for Georges Laraque in July 2008. That year, Sports Illustrated named Laraque the game’s best enforcer: his job is to protect his teammates while roughing up the opposition. Off the ice he fights for animal rights; the 6-foot-3 athlete became a vegan in 2009,after seeing the film Earthlings.

Q What motivates you to be an activist?

A Animals cannot defend themselves—people have to do it for them. That’s why I wanted to do protests [with PETA]. Animals are dying every single day. It’s my duty to educate people.

Q How do you reconcile your image as a tough hockey player with your caring side?

A I want people to know the real me, and while fighting on the ice is my job, it’s not who I am as a person. I try to help as many people as I can. I don’t only look out for the welfare of animals; I also do charity work on the behalf of kids, like Play It Smart [a community outreach program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania]. The impact you have on kids when you’re an athlete is unreal.

Q Has your switch to a vegan diet affected your athletic performance?

A I’ve never felt better in my life. I’m less tired; my body has more energy. It’s unbelievable! When you become a vegan, you learn to put the right stuff in your body.