You may be surprised to hear that there are many famous vegan athletes who made the decision to pursue a vegan lifestyle due to all the benefits it comes with.
But the vegan diet has been at the center of debate for quite a while now, as to whether it can provide the fuel the body needs to perform optimally.
Personally, I have seen my son exhibit extraordinary feats of strength after being on a vegan diet since birth. I swear, he could lift a truck. (And P.S. he’s only 13 months old!)
Veganism may not be for everyone, as it does limit what you can eat (according to societal norms). So, if you’re a real foodie, expect it to be a challenge to go vegan—but worth it. You’ll find there are countless options for animal product-free alternatives that are even healthier for you.
Upon entering my vegan lifestyle, I tried many different substitutes for meat, dairy, and eggs. And, I prefer them now. Oftentimes after staying vegan, you won’t miss old favorites because of how much fresher everything tastes when plant-based.
One of the main aspects people worry about when switching to a vegan diet is not getting enough protein. They believe protein is typically only contained within meat. This is a misnomer, as there are so many beneficial vegan foods that provide plenty of protein (such as tofu, lentils, and quinoa).
Case in point: many of the world’s top athletes have made the decision to turn vegan. They 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.
Veganism and Athletic Performance
According to a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion, a plant-based diet has proven to boost health and wellbeing. Of course, this is a must for athletes who are required to have immense stamina.
A vegan diet has also been known to reduce the levels of depression in the body. This is another 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.”
Famous Vegan Athletes to Look Up To
Who are some of the most famous vegan athletes that made the decision to turn to a plant-based diet?
From tennis to running, surfing to basketball, famous vegan athletes are not as rare as you may think. Aside from achieving higher levels of performance, these successful competitors know that a vegan lifestyle is just plain better for the body as a whole.
Let’s take a look at eight famous athletes that are vegan:
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.
Venus Williams changed to a plant-based diet after she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome back in 2011. She believed that if she hadn’t thought about the foods she was consuming, she may have suffered a negative impact on her performance. Doctors 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. He holds an impressive personal record of running 165.7 miles in just 24 hours – now that’s something!
Jurek previously lived on a diet of meat and potatoes during his college days. However, he recognized that something needed to be done about his lifestyle. Because of a family history of Multiple Sclerosis, he 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 Irving 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, the 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 is 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 interest as an athlete.
Nowadays, this famous 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 recognizable 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 the vegan athlete’s diet. The caption reads: “If you can’t bear this with your eyes, don’t put them in your mouth.”
Ready 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 water bottle with you throughout the day. One of the best vacuum-insulated, wide-mouth water bottles I have found is the Hydroflask. It’s 32-oz (about 2 water bottle’s worth) and keeps things cool for a long time.
If you’re exercising for long periods of time, then it’s also a good idea to choose a hydrating sports drink such as coconut water. This beverage replaces electrolytes that are lost through sweat.
Consider the foods you’re eating
Although the vegan diet 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 foods such as:
- Dark leafy greens
- Pumpkin seeds
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.
SHOP NOW: Vegan Supplements
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 a 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!
Who else should we add to the list of famous vegan athletes?
Share in the comments below!