The vegan diet has been at the centre of debate for quite a while now, as to whether it can provide the fuel the body needs to perform optimally. You may be surprised to hear that there are many world-famous athletes who have made the decision to turn vegan due to the benefits it provides.
It’s a given that the vegan diet isn’t for everyone, as it does limit what you can and can’t eat. So, if you’re a real foodie, you may not be keen on the idea of going vegan, regardless of the animal product-free alternatives that can be even healthier for you.
One of the main aspects people worry about when switching to a vegan diet is not getting enough protein (which is typically contained within meat). Yet, many of the world’s top athletes have made the decision to turn vegan and haven’t got any worries about getting the protein they need to be at the top of their game.
It just goes to show that if famous vegan athletes can stimulate energy from their food sources, it’s good enough for anyone.
According to a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion (2015), a plant-based diet has proven to boost health and wellbeing; which is a must for athletes who are required to have immense stamina. It has also been known to reduce the levels of depression in the body; which is also a must for sportspeople who need to keep up a level of positivity to carry out training.
A researcher from the above study, Dr. Ulka Agarwal stated: “Depression is related to inflammation in the body and low levels of serotonin. Plant-based foods naturally lower inflammation in the body because they are naturally low in fat and high in antioxidants. High vegetable intake increases the amount of B vitamins in the diet, which have been found to affect mood.”
Who are some of the most famous vegan athletes who have made the decision to turn to a plant-based diet?
1. Venus Williams
Image source: Getty images.
American tennis player Venus Williams is one of the most famous vegan celebrities. She’s the champion of seven grand-slam titles she has earned throughout her career. Not only that, but she’s also the winner of four Olympic medals and the Wimbledon’s women’s singles titles a whopping five times.
After her sister Serena Williams, Venus is the second highest-earning tennis player in the world.
She changed to a plant-based diet after she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome back in 2011 and believed that if she hadn’t thought about the foods she was consuming, she may have suffered a negative impact in her performance. Doctor’s suggested the vegan diet could dramatically improve her symptoms of joint pain and extreme fatigue.
Speaking about her condition and how she is coping with her new diet, told Health Magazine:
”I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I wanted to maintain my performance on the court. Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible. Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.”
2. Scott Jurek
Image source: Justin Bastien
American marathon runner Scott Jurek is one of the most well-known famous vegan athletes; holding an impressive personal record of running 165.7 miles in just 24 hours – now that’s something!
He previously lived in a diet of meat and potatoes during his college days but recognised that something needed to be done about his lifestyle. Jurek also has a family history of multiple sclerosis and believed that the vegan diet could delay his chances of developing symptoms due to the health benefits it can offer.
Speaking of his new diet change, Jurek said:
“It was definitely a long-term decision rather than one made for short-term performance gains.”
3. Kyrie Irving
Image source: Fox Sports
Kyrie Iriving is one of the most famous names in basketball and came as a shock to the world when he revealed that he was in fact, a vegan. In 2016, he won BA championship with his previous team, Cleveland Cavaliers.
His switch to the vegan diet was triggered by such a simple reason that is quite impressive. This famous vegan athlete simply watched a documentary on Netflix known as “What the Health” and his mind was made up.
4. Tia Blanco
Image source: Get the Gloss
Professional surfer Tia Blanco has won the Open Women’s World Surfing Championship in both 2015 and 2016. She one of many famous vegan athletes that claim the vegan diet has really improved her wellbeing in both her personal and professional life.
Speaking to Teen Vogue, Blanco said:
“I feel really great eating a plant-based diet and love the way it makes me feel physically and mentally. Many of us know the effects of diet on one’s health but fail to realize that diet plays a huge role in more than just your personal well-being.”
5. Jack Lindquist
Image source: Great Vegan Athletes
American sports cyclist Jack Lindquist has won many of the country’s most famous races on numerous occasions. He is also a public speaker and blogger. After realizing the benefits that the vegan diet can provide, he jumped on the bandwagon alongside his friends to bring about awareness for animal cruelty.
Talking to fellow blogger, Trevor Lucius about his vegan lifestyle change alongside many other famous vegan athletes, Lindquist said:
“[My friends] asked me what the difference was between the love I had for my dog, The Reverend, and any animal that was on a farm ready to be slaughtered. I didn’t have an answer, so that was that.”
Image source: BBC
Branded as “Olympian of the Century” after winning 10 Olympic medals during his extensive career, Carl Lewis is one of the most successful vegan athletes. He claimed that his best results were during the first year of the vegan diet. Lewis decided to go down this particular route to get as many nutrients as possible, without having to consume calories.
He wrote in the introduction to Jannequin Bennett’s book Very Vegetarian:
“I’ve found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete”.
7. Lionel Messi
Image source: Reuters
No doubt one of the greatest football players of all time, Lionel Messi has ranked up a grand total of 32 trophies for Barcelona throughout the duration of his career.
Back in 2014, Messi endured quite a poor season and wondered whether his diet had anything to do with his performance. As a result, he spoke to a nutritionist who gave some useful advice on the benefits of a vegan diet and on why switching to plant-based foods could be in his best interests as an athlete.
Nowadays, this vegan athlete swears by organic and plant-based foods such as the likes of fruit, vegetables and nuts to keep him at the top of his game.
8. Lewis Hamilton
Image source: Sky Sports
MBE Lewis Hamilton is considered to be one of the best racing drivers of our generation and therefore, one of the most recognisable famous vegan athletes on this list. He holds the trophy of Formula One World Champion four times over.
In an Instagram post, the athlete shared his views on veganism to try and convert his followers to convert to the vegan athlete’s diet. The caption reads: “If you can’t bear this with your eyes, don’t put them in your mouth.”
If you want to try and adapt to the vegan lifestyle in the same footsteps of the above famous vegan athletes, here are some very basic tips to get you started:
Sip water all day
Staying hydrated is a must for any active individual let alone famous vegan athletes. Therefore, you should be sure to drink a few glasses of water in the morning before you work out and also carry a drinks bottle with you throughout the day.
If you’re exercising for long periods of time, then it would be a good idea to choose a hydrating sports drink such as coconut water. This beverage is designed to replace electrolytes that are lost through sweat.
Consider the foods you’re eating
Although the vegan is mostly plant-based, you still need to consider the best foods to consume to keep your energy levels high. Vitamins and minerals are particularly high in dark leafy greens and almonds and beans, pumpkin seeds and kale.
Take a vitamin B12 supplement
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that your body can’t produce without being fed the right nutrients. it’s usually contained in meat, which means you need to source it from elsewhere upon becoming a vegan, such as in capsules.
This vitamin is essential for keeping our nerves vigorous, as well as supporting the production of red blood cells and maintaining normal blood function. As always, consult your doctor if you are interested in taking this vitamin supplement.If you’re keen on keeping fit and active or look up to famous vegan athletes as your inspiration for a healthy lifestyle, we hope you’ll make the decision to turn vegan. If you do, let us know how it’s working for you!
Did we miss any famous vegan athletes you can think of?
Share in the comments below!