Pro athletes prove that veganism can improve your health while keeping you at the top of your game.
From Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris to Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, plenty of professional athletes have declared veganism as the source of their power, fuel, and endurance, debunking the myth that a plant-based diet is inadequate for sportspeople.
Recent research shows eschewing meat or eggs doesn’t mean less protein and energy. On the contrary, a balanced vegan diet will get you enough nutrients to make you feel even more efficient when you work out. Not only that, plant-based foods lower inflammation and oxidative stress, reduce cardiovascular risk and accelerate muscle recovery.
If you’d like to know more about how veganism can help athletes achieve better sporting results, we suggest you watch The Game Changers. This revolutionary film tells the story of James Wilks — former professional mixed martial artist and vegan activist — on a quest to uncover the optimal diet for human performance and features dozens of the world’s top athletes and nutrition experts.
In the meantime, here are some of the greatest game changers out there who went vegan to get stronger.
Alex Morgan · Soccer player
Alex Morgan is an American female soccer player. As of 2018, she’s the co-captain of the U. S. women’s National soccer team. She participated in the London and Rio Olympics and was the first player ever to score a goal and an assist in a World Cup final. Morgan claims she hasn’t suffered an injury since becoming a vegan in 2017.
“I feel better all around, I feel like I have great energy, I feel like I’m sleeping really well, I feel like I’m just more clear-minded and not as reliant on caffeine as before”. —AM
Alexey Voyevoda · Olympic bobsledding gold medalist
Alexey Voyevoda is a Russian athlete who won gold at the Arm-Wrestling World Championships and secured two gold medals at the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014 in the Bobsleigh.
“I’ve noticed so many benefits since becoming vegan. First, I no longer eat the suffering and pain of defenceless animals. Secondly, my body has become lighter, so to say “clearer”. Thirdly, in my profession, flexibility and elasticity are incredibly important, and I increased both of these. And fourthly, now I almost never suffer from a cold or flu”. —AV
Carl Lewis · Former track and field athlete
Carl Lewis is one of the world’s most famous Olympians, with nine gold medals under his belt. It’s safe to say that much of his success is due to his plant-based diet: Lewis was vegetarian when he won his first four gold racing medals in 1984 and turned vegan in the 1990s.
Chris Paul · NBA player
Chris Paul is an American NBA player, representing the Phoenix Suns as a point guard. He has been on a completely vegan diet since 2019, and his performances on the pitch have been incredible. Paul said that it helped him feel more energetic and allowed his body to recover faster after gruelling practices and games. Paul is a brand ambassador for the vegan company Beyond meat.
Dotsie Bausch · Eight-Time U.S. National Cycling Champion
Dotsie Bausch is an eight-time U.S. national cycling champion, a two-time Pan American gold medalist, and an Olympic silver medalist. After concluding her prolific professional career, Bausch has become a powerful advocate for plant-based eating for athletes and non-athletes alike.
Kendrick Farris · Olympic weightlifter
Kendrick Farris is the only U.S. weightlifter to have competed in the last three Olympic Games. After transitioning to a plant-based diet in 2014, he moved up a weight class and was able to recover faster and improve his focus. Considering he can lift a total of 831 pounds, there’s no doubt that a vegan diet does provide enough protein for proper athletic nutrition.
Lewis Hamilton· Formula One champion
Lewis Hamilton is a five-time Formula One champion, considered the best driver of his generation and one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. Hamilton has been vegan since 2017 and makes the headlines for his activism almost as often as he does for winning races. He said his diet has had a positive impact on his performance in racing and boosting his energy.
Meagan Duhamel · World-champion pairs skater
Canadian athlete and figure skater Meagan Duhamel switched to veganism in 2008. The two-time world champion said that a plant-based diet helps her train, focus and recover better.
“One of my proudest accomplishments has been going vegan”. —MD
Morgan Mitchell · Two-Time Australian 400M Champion
Morgan Mitchell is an Australian Olympic sprinter who has been vegan for years. She has been challenging the age-old myth that meat is needed to be strong, fast, and successful in sport by outpacing her competitors and her old PBs.
“Being vegan has helped me immensely. I don’t feel sluggish like I did when I was eating meat, and my recovery from training really took off. It felt like an overall cleanse for my body, and I started seeing greater results on the track”. —MM
Novak Djokovic · Tennis Champion
Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players of all time and currently constitutes a part of the ‘Big Three’ in professional tennis. Apart from collecting titles, the Serbian star is also known for maintaining his fitness levels by following a strict workout and a plant-based diet.
“I do eat plant-based. I think that’s one of the reasons why I recover well. I don’t have allergies that I used to have any more”. —ND
Patrik Baboumian · World Record-Holding Strongman
Patrik Baboumian is a professional strongman with multiple world records, including the front-hold, keg lift, log lift, and super yoke. He won Germany’s Strongest Man in 2011, the year he became vegan. Patrik’s achievements prove that you don’t need dairy, eggs and meat to build strength.
Tia Blanco · World Surfing Games champion
Tia Blanco is a World Surfing Games champion. She has been vegetarian since birth but went fully vegan in 2013. Blanco focuses on consuming whole foods to get in top form and maintain the energy necessary to work the waves.
“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”. —TB
Tommaso Leoni · Snowboarder
Tommaso Leoni is an Italian Olympic snowboarder born in 1991 who has chosen to follow a 100% plant-based diet. He took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and is now training for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The snowboarder from Vicenza is proof that you can be vegan, even when practising sport at the highest level.
“My energy levels have increased and I have had an increase in muscle mass”. —TL
Venus Williams · Tennis champion
Tennis champion Venus Williams is one of the most successful players in history, holding countless titles and four Olympic gold medals. She transitioned to a vegan diet after developing an autoimmune disease known as Sjögren syndrome in 2011. She also launched Happy Viking, a plant-based protein brand.
With so many protein substitutes and nutrient-rich, plant-based foods out there today, it’s time to knock down clichés about meat, protein and strength. With the 2021 Summer Olympics starting today in Tokyo, let’s cheer for the high-level athletes who excel on a vegan diet!