Celebrity spokespeople have been around for generations, but once in a while, you learn of one who is actually authoritative on the topic being promoted and can have a meaningful influence.

When Canadian meat and poultry company Maple Leaf Foods released the “Protein Builds” video with five-time Olympic medalist Hayley Wickenheiser promoting the benefits of meat and poultry, it caught my attention. Not only is Wickenheiser a world class athlete, but she also mentors youth by hosting an international tournament for young female hockey teams. Most significantly, she just happens to be pursuing a master’s degree in medical sciences and says she is “very passionate about the relationship between high energy sports and nutrition.”

Wickenheiser, in the video, specifically identifies meat, poultry, eggs and dairy as ideal ways for a body to get its needed protein.

“Where possible, I think it is important that kids get their protein from meat and alternatives, not supplements,” she said. She specifically identified lean turkey sandwiches or chicken strips as good examples.

To me, this is a very welcome message from a credible source.

Not long ago, I would watch my hungry teenage son pour a bowl of cereal while overlooking the leftover pork chops or chicken pieces in the refrigerator. Then he would go out and spend his own money on some protein powder other kids in school were using with permission from the track coach and weightlifting instructor.

I would ask: “Why are you wasting your money on that stuff when you can get plenty of protein from the meat already in the fridge?” Of course, parents don’t know anything, but coaches and athletes apparently do.

Kidding aside, having a role model star athlete explaining the benefits of a diet that includes meat and poultry is really a good idea. Young student-athletes may not make the grocery shopping decisions in most households, but what they choose to consume does play a heavy factor in what their parents buy. If more young people were better aware of the benefits of animal protein, more chicken, turkey and pork would be bought and sold. That’s good for everyone in the industry.