Vegan Athletes: How Does A Vegan Diet Enhance The Way We Play Sports?
Being able to play sports on a professional level has many requirements, however, animal products are not one of them. For decades, many athletes have strived on a vegan diet, knowing they can play their best if they still get all the important nutrients.
Through vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and many other whole foods, you will achieve groundbreaking results just as these following famous plant-powered athletes continue to prove.
Read also: “How To Gain Weight As a Vegan“
- Venus Williams – Champion Tennis Player
- Patrik Baboumian – Bodybuilder, Strongman
- Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1 Driver
- Tia Blanco – Professional Surfer
- David Haye – Heavyweight Boxer
- Scott Jurek – Long Distance Runner
- Alex Morgan – American Soccer Player
- DeAndre Jordan – Professional Basketball Player
- Meagan Duhamel – Canadian Figure Skater
- Nate Diaz – UFC Fighter
- Sarah Stewart – Paralympic Basketball Player
- Rich Roll – Ultra Endurance Athlete
Venus Williams – Champion Tennis Player
For the past decade, Venus Williams, the previous number 1 tennis star has followed a vegan diet. More specifically a raw vegan diet after being diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes extreme fatigue and joint pain. William’s doctor suggested this would be the best decision to help tackle various symptoms.
Ever since becoming vegan, Venus claims that she recovers faster now than when she consumed animal proteins and that a plant-based diet provides more energy and reduces her inflammation.
Venus Williams says that becoming vegan has been a ‘game changer’ and has transformed her health, performance, and skin. In 2020, Venus launched a vegan protein brand named ‘Happy Viking’ with a variety of protein-based products which are perfect for those who prefer healthier alternatives.
“To be able to control as much as I can, what’s happening in my body, my inflammation levels, through what I eat – is a godsend.”
Patrik Baboumian – Bodybuilder, Strongman
Known for being a world record breaker, Patrik Baboumian became a vegan in 2011 and has never looked back. Patrik has cared for animals from a very young age and wanted to match his diet to his beliefs.
Patrik became Germany’s Strongest Man the year he ditched all animal products and has been an advocate for a vegan diet ever since. He has shared his diet plan for others to follow and has shown that he gets more than enough calories to build up his strength.
Patrik was also featured in the Netflix documentary ‘Game Changers’ that follows the health and nutrition of vegan athletes.
Stating that becoming vegan was ‘the best decision I ever made’, Patrik is one of the strongest people on the planet. He often shows that you do not need to harm animals to be a bodybuilder and is determined to make a better change for the planet.
“My strength needs no victims. My strength is my compassion.”
Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1 Driver
After becoming a vegan in 2017, Lewis Hamilton has been particularly vocal about how being plant-based has improved his performance in racing and boosted energy levels. Lewis says his only regret was ‘not going vegan sooner’ and is very invested in being a voice for animals and the climate.
Achieving his seventh Formula One World Championship title in 2020, Lewis Hamilton now equals the legendary driver Michael Schumacher. He often uses his social media platform to talk about how his diet got him to such a level.
Lewis credits a vegan lifestyle and how you can still get everything you enjoy eating, but in a healthier, more ethical way. If that isn’t awesome enough, Lewis has since opened the vegan joint ‘Neat Burger’ which has several locations in London, UK, and hopes to expand globally across major cities like New York and Los Angeles.
“Yes it’s hard, nothing is ever easy but I’ve felt the best I ever have. Choose love, go vegan.”
Tia Blanco – Professional Surfer
Raised as a vegetarian for ethical reasons, world-famous Tia Blanco decided to become a vegan after watching documentaries based on animal agriculture and decided to cut out animal products completely.
After becoming vegan, Tia took first place Gold medal at the 2015 International Surfing Association and has had many more accomplishments since. She has also been ranked in the top 50 surfers in the world, by the World Surf League.
In an interview, Tia states how much this diet benefits the environment and how a vegan lifestyle aligns with all of her core values. She truly feels better physically and mentally as a vegan. Relying on soups, lentils, and other superfoods when she is in competition mode, Tia can make her diet work wherever she is in the world.
“I’ve seen people chase the vegan diet as a trend or to lose a few pounds, but a vegan diet has huge impacts on the earth and your health.”
David Haye – Heavyweight Boxer
Having promoted a vegan diet as the most effective for professional athletes, World Champion Boxer David Haye decided to eliminate all animal products in 2014. He is strongly against using animals for food and knows that you can live a healthy life while being vegan.
David states that once he cut out meat, dairy and eggs he immediately felt better and stronger than ever. He has inspired many other athletes to change their diet, after seeing how much his muscles have grown, which partially comes down to being vegan.
David Haye is one of the most successful vegan athletes of his time and feels that he won’t ever return to an animal-based diet, after all the benefits he’s felt without it.
“I’m now fitter than I’ve ever been, I punch harder than ever. I’m more determined. I’m faster. Diet’s the biggest thing because your body is a machine.”
Scott Jurek – Long Distance Runner
A complete asset to the vegan world, Scott Jurek has been vegan since 1997! A stellar example of how you don’t need to eat meat to be successful in sports, Scott has said that being vegan is the reason he’s gotten better at running.
Having won 16 prestigious ultramarathon titles and breaking, Scott began in 1994 but admits that all major victories happened after the change of diet. Encouraging everyone to make changes to their eating habits, he offers a lot of help to those who are curious.
As Scott continues to challenge himself after completing a run of 165 miles in just 24 hours, he shows anybody who is starting to run more how you can still win the race and be plant-based.
“Not only could a plant-based diet sustain me, but it could actually make me a faster, more powerful athlete.”
Alex Morgan – American Soccer Player
Many aspects go into being a world-class soccer player, including the food you put into your body. Women’s World Cup Champion, Alex Morgan, often expresses how much being vegan has benefitted her lifestyle.
After turning vegan in 2017, Alex has said that she can recover faster from intense training sessions, she also feels fitter and healthier than ever. From an ethical point of view, she learned she didn’t want to contribute to the harming of animals, but then also saw improvements in her health.
Alex Morgan is an accomplished woman who also motivates others to go vegan, because of all the great things it can do for the human body. She has many tips and shares what she eats across the internet, which is a great encouragement for anyone who’s thought about a diet change.
“I never thought it was possible I could be playing at an elite level as a professional athlete with a plant-based diet, Then I realized it wasn’t detrimental at all.”
DeAndre Jordan – Professional Basketball Player
With all his accomplishments from being an NBA star, DeAndre carries a lot of compassion too. His decision to go vegan came from wanting to help save the planet, leading him to make the change overnight.
Now being vegan for 3 years, DeAndre makes it known that he and his body are loving the plant-based diet and that it has become a huge part of his life, on and off the basketball court. Regularly talking about the kinds of food he enjoys, his wide audience is shown that you can eat deliciously and cruelty-free at the same time.
Along with being a foodie, DeAndre now has his own vegan cooking show which he hopes will inspire others. ‘Cooking Clean’ is for the public to see that you can create simple, animal-free magic in your kitchen and feel incredible afterward.
“A plant-based lifestyle isn’t always an easy adjustment, but it damn sure is worth it! Haven’t looked back since the day I started.”
Meagan Duhamel – Canadian Figure Skater
Think you need to eat meat to be a winner? I’ll give you a hint, you absolutely do not!
Meagan Duhamel earned a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and has won many other medals along the way.
She often credits her vegan diet for helping her successes, stating that more and more athletes thrive on a vegan diet, but also recover quicker from training and any injuries. Since not having any animal ingredients since 2008, it has become clear to Meagan that it is easier than ever now that we should, and can make changes.
Those who work with Meagan say she is full of energy and will find her suitcase packed with (vegan) food. A wonderful example of someone who regularly displays the advantages of a more ethical lifestyle.
“The vegan diet is healthy and leads to a compassionate lifestyle. I’ve gotten so many benefits. One of my proudest accomplishments has been going vegan.”
Nate Diaz – UFC Fighter
Mixed martial artist and UFC fighter Nate Diaz is a clear reminder that we don’t need to consume animal products to get to the top. Win after win, Nate wears his vegan lifestyle proudly, demonstrating that his diet has never held him back, especially when he beat UFC World Champion, Connor McGregor.
It’s generally overlooked that you can be plant-based and still be an exceptional fighter, but it is so very possible. Nate ensures he gets enough protein and keeps himself full of vitamins and nutrients for his performance in the ring.
Back in 2008 when he first went vegan, Nate claims it was mainly for health and muscle recovery. He believes his muscle recovery times are faster than those who eat meat and other non-plant protein. His plant-powered punches are still going strong!
“I like to promote the vegan industry. I feel stronger than ever and my endurance is only getting better”
Sarah Stewart – Paralympic Basketball Player
The inspiration is Sarah Stewart, who has been vegan for many years out of her love for animals. She couldn’t quite comprehend the idea of eating them and found that swapping her diet for a meat-free one, made changes to her health.
Sarah has won three Australian championships, placed in the All-Star Five for five years, and won three Paralympic games. She openly explains that her food choices are what keeps her so healthy.
She is a strong believer that vegetable carbs and protein along with all their nutrients build better, cleaner bodies including muscles, and actively promotes her vegan choices online. With all her achievements she makes the vegan community super proud.
“I think being vegan makes me healthier, and trying to avoid causing pain and suffering along the way is a great thing too.”
Rich Roll – Ultra Endurance Athlete
There are just a few reasons why Rich Roll had to make this list, the top one being that he continues to speak up about the vegan movement and how he has not looked back. He frequently debunks the myth that being plant-based is more time consuming or expensive and offers further help in his cookbook ‘The Plantpower Way: Italia’
In less than a week, Rich Roll completed five Ironman-distance triathlons on five islands of Hawaii, something that hasn’t ever been done before. Putting his incredible abilities all down to his diet change, he feels that being vegan will benefit you physically in many ways.
Ultimately, Rich Roll is a super athlete who paves the way for anyone who is into fitness and is considering a plant-based diet. He continues to leave a mark not only in the athlete world but also the vegan one too. Find out about what he eats in a day here.
“There is nothing that’s not improved or impacted positively and significantly by living a plant-based life.”
The list goes on of other famous vegan athletes who have had groundbreaking results in their time, but for now, I’ll leave you with some honorable mentions. Although the following celebrities aren’t known so much for sports, they do incorporate a vegan diet most of the time and have found it to hugely improve their fitness:
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Not strictly vegan but retired bodybuilder Arnold, believes a plant-based diet maintains his health the best and is ideal for climate change.
Ellie Goulding – Despite incorporating animal products into her diet recently, singer Ellie Goulding stood by a vegan diet as being the best choice during her half-marathon days.
Serena Williams – To support her sister, Venus Williams, Tennis star Serena is mostly vegan and relies on the diet throughout training and competing.
Beyonce – Global superstar Beyonce may not be vegan all year round, when preparing for festivals such as Coachella, she opts for a plant-based diet to help her prepare physically.
For any curious souls who are reading, what keeps you from trying a plant-based diet? Exercising and playing sports must be met with a good diet, full of nutrients and healthy foods to keep you in good form. A vegan diet, as shown, can provide you with everything required to strive. What’s stopping you?
Read our article: “How To Go Vegan“