From reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of heart disease to more stamina, blood sugar management, and weight loss, there are many health benefits to a vegan lifestyle. But many believe that vegans don’t get enough protein and can’t be good athletes.
But many world champion athletes are proving this assumption wrong by being stronger, fitter, and faster than meat-eaters. Here we will be looking at some famous athletes who power their bodies with plants. Did you know that these athletes were vegan? We will be looking at the following sportspeople.
- Colin Kaepernick (Football)
- Venus Williams (Tennis)
- Scott Jurek (Ultramarathon)
- Tia Blanco (Surfing)
- Nate Diaz (Mixed Martial Arts)
- Kendrick Farris (Weightlifting)
- David Haye (Boxing)
- Kyrie Irving (Basketball)
- Meagan Duhamel (Ice Skating)
- Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1)
Colin Kaepernick (Football)
Kaepernick was a popular football player for the San Francisco 49ers. He was their quarterback from 2011 to 2016.
He became a household name around the world in 2016 when, instead of standing for the US national anthem, he went down on one knee in protest against police brutality and racial injustice, calling for a system change in the United States.
While he is not very outspoken about being vegan, he will sometimes tweet using vegan hashtags like #NotBadForAVegan. It is not known why he switched to a vegan diet, but his strength has clearly not suffered for it.
Venus Williams (Tennis)
It is highly unlikely that this is the first time you are hearing this name – Venus Williams is one of the most famous female tennis players in the world.
The American has won 7 Grand Slam singles and 14 Grand Slam doubles. If that wasn’t enough, she has also won 4 Olympic gold medals and 5 Wimbledon women’s singles titles. She is estimated to be worth $95 million, the second highest-earning female tennis player (her sister Serena being the highest).
After being diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome in 2011, she switched to a raw vegan diet to relieve her joint pain and fatigue. She has stated that she feels stronger, healthier, and fitter since changing, knowing she is doing the best thing for her body and her career.
Scott Jurek (Ultramarathon)
This American ultramarathon runner has won 16 ultramarathon titles and holds a record of running 165.7 miles in 24 hours – that’s just 8:42 per mile! He also ran the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes in 2015 – at the age of 41!
Scott transitioned from his “meat and potatoes” diet to being fully vegan in college after seeing the illnesses and health defects at physical therapy school and in his own home – his mother suffers from multiple sclerosis. He saw veganism as a solution to avoiding the chronic disease that ran in his family.
He also stated that he saw eating a vegan diet as a long-term decision rather than a solution to short-term gains in performance, believing that athletes need to fuel their bodies properly to have great results.
Tia Blanco (Surfing)
This Puerto Rican surfer won the 2015 and 2016 Open Women’s World Surfing Championship – all while following a vegan diet.
Tia grew up vegetarian, but due to her love for the sea, animals, the environment, and surfing, she adopted a full vegan diet in 2013. She has said that she loved the way her plant-based diet makes her feel mentally and physically.
She has also stated that most people know how important it is to follow a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet, but most do not realize how large a role their diet plays in their personal well-being and the health of the environment.
Nate Diaz (Mixed Martial Arts)
Diaz is an American professional mixed martial arts athlete who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – the world’s largest MMA organization – and believes his vegan diet is largely the reason for his success.
Nate started following a vegan diet when he was 18 years old after being inspired by Nick, his older brother. Nick is the former welterweight champion in WEC and Strikeforce who achieved all of his success being plant-based, something that Nate wanted to emulate.
He believes that you are a smarter, more intelligent fighter when following a vegan diet, stating that both him and his brother have never performed better. His belief is that other than knowing how to kick someone in their head, he wants to know how to feel great the next day – and that is with his plant-based diet.
Kendrick Farris (Weightlifting)
Farris is an American weightlifter who went to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and finished an impressive 11th in his weight class – and as the only vegan weightlifter competing!
For religious reasons, after the birth of his 2nd son, Farris decided to adopt a fully vegan diet. When talking to Men’s Fitness, Farris stated that he replaced meat with vegetables and pulses, and that he learned recipes to make the food taste amazing while enjoying the benefits to his body.
He says that his vegan diet reduces the inflammation and stress in his body and that he recovers very quickly. He doesn’t obsess about protein, stating that too much does nothing for the body anyway, and focuses more on providing his body with all of the vitamins and minerals that it needs.
David Haye (Boxing)
Haye was a British boxer who boasts world titles in not one but TWO weight categories. He is now retired, but in 2008, he won 3 of the 4 major boxing world titles at cruiserweight.
Haye is estimated to be worth $26 million, and did it all on a plant-based diet. After a serious shoulder injury that resulted in a surgery and time off, he said that he started researching the benefits of following a vegan diet when it comes to recovery time and healing rates.
He now has a nutritionist and full-time chef that makes him balanced vegan meals rich in nutrients and minerals. In an interview with The Sun, he stated that apes don’t rely on a meat-based diet and are 20 times stronger than men. They eat plants all day, and so does David!
Kyrie Irving (Basketball)
Kyrie is one of the most well-known names in the basketball world. With the Cleveland Cavaliers, his former team, he won the 2016 NBA championship.
He is a 6-time NBA All-Star and switched to a vegan diet in 2017 after watching the documentary “What The Health” on Netflix. He has stated that he dribbles as fast as he does because he is stronger on his plant-based diet.
He has also said that he feels so much more energetic since choosing plant protein over animal protein. He chooses plant proteins including soy, rice, pea, and hemp, all of which he says work even better than meat. When playing for the Boston Celtics, even his coach Brad Stevens agreed that his vegan diet was making a difference.
Meagan Duhamel (Ice Skating)
This Canadian ice skater is a world champion and gained notoriety when she won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Meagan is a 6-time Canadian national pairs champion and a 2-time Four Continents champion. She won a silver medal in the team event at the 2014 Olympic games. Plus, she has won every major national and international championship in the 2014-15 season.
She has been vegan since 2008 after reading a book about veganism in an airport lounge. That night, she read the entire book and emptied all of the animal products from her refrigerator and cupboards the next day. She now eats whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1)
Hamilton is a 5-time Formula 1 world champion, and his vegan journey as a professional athlete has been widely publicized in the past 2 years due to his success.
The British racer is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, and is worth over $285 million. He has many brand deals and endorsements, and is an outspoken advocate for eating a plant-based diet to help the body and the environment.
Lewis switched to veganism in 2017. In an interview with the BBC about his transition, he stated that as humans, we are destroying the world with global-warming gas emissions caused by animal agriculture. Additionally, he said the cruelty is terrible and he doesn’t want to support it.
As more scientific studies are conducted into plant-based diets and documentaries like “Forks Over Knives” and “The Game Changers” are released, more athletes are transitioning to vegan diets.
These are just some of the many athletes who have made the change and seen the benefits. We can’t wait to see who else takes the plunge!