10 Vegan Athletes

Healthy Eating

10 Vegan Athletes

Think that no pro athlete could ever compete at the top on a vegan diet? Well think again. Some top names in sport have made their mark, all fuelled by a plant-based diet.

Think that no pro athlete could ever compete at the top on a vegan diet? Well think again. Some top names in sport have made their mark, all fuelled by a plant-based diet.


These 10 sportsmen and sportswomen help dispel the myth that professional athletes can only derive the protein they need in large enough quantities from animal-based foods such as meat and dairy.

1

Venus Williams - Tennis

Venus first came to adopt a raw vegan diet when diagnosed in 2011 with an autoimmune disease (Sjögren’s Syndrome) that caused her excessive fatigue. Doctors recommended the dietary change which led to huge improvements in her condition. “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,” she said.

2

David Haye - Boxing

Now retired for the second time, boxer Haye became vegan in 2014 after watching a TV documentary about how animals are farmed, killed and prepared for food. Once satisfied that he could obtain enough protein to fight he adopted a vegan lifestyle and said: “It's a myth that you need meat for strength."

3

Jermaine Defoe - Football

While his football career was still underway, Defoe made the late switch towards veganism and credited it with re-energising him and helping him maintain his football career well into his mid-thirties. Taking inspiration from his girlfriend, who is a dedicated vegan, Defoe looked at ways he could prolong his career through his diet. Although he isn’t fully vegan - still eating fish a few times a week - he has cut meat and dairy out of his diet entirely.

4

Lewis Hamilton - Motor Racing

Formula 1 driver Hamilton made the move towards veganism, first by becoming a pescatarian before finally cutting out fish from his diet to embrace veganism. He has credited a vegan diet with helping him ‘“feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life.” His vegan diet led him to take to Instagram in the search for a vegan chef to work with him so that he could fuel his body in the right way for the demands of F1.

5

Hector Bellerin - Football

Spanish defender Bellerin took a pragmatic approach to veganism, using it as a means of improving his recovery from matches.The right-back had been plagued by niggling ankle injuries and tried a vegan diet to help him. He said: “For me the most important thing is the inflammation in my body after games and the speed that my body recovers compared to before.”

6

Carl Lewis - Athletics

US track and field athlete Carl Lewis wasn't always a vegan. Making his name at his home Olympics in 1984, it wasn’t until years later that he adopted a vegan diet to prepare for the World Championships in 1991. Running a then world record of 9:86, Lewis also claimed gold in the relay, but lost out in an epic tussle with Mike Powell in the long jump. He claimed the Championships were “the greatest meet that I've ever had" especially given he achieved it at the age of 30.

7

Scott Jurek - Ultramarathon running

A passionate advocate for veganism, ultramarathoner Jurek follows a complete plant-based diet, which he credits for his endurance, recovery and long racing career. A vegetarian since 1997, and a vegan since 1999, he has claimed victories in nearly all of ultra running’s elite trail and road events and claimed the 2015 Appalachian Trail speed record, averaging nearly 50 miles a day over 46 days — all fuelled by plants!

8

Adam Zampa - Cricket

Cricketer Zampa became vegan on ethical grounds, making the move from long-term vegetarian to vegan. He has appeared in animal welfare bus adverts across Australia, asking people to “Love them. Don’t eat them.” He has even rescued several goats that he raises at his home. The spin bowler has credited vegan eating with benefitting his sporting career and helping him stay injury-free.

9

Kendrick Farris - Weightlifting

US Olympic weightlifter Farris has been vegan since 2014 and his success goes some way to proving that sportsmen and women can get enough protein to maintain strength and muscle mass on a vegan diet. After years of competing on a non-vegan diet, he made the switch on ethical grounds, and has gone on win multiple Pan American weightlifting championships as well as competing in the Rio Olympics.

10

Morgan Mitchell - Athletics

Australian 400 metres specialist Morgan has been vegan since 2014 after watching a documentary about animal cruelty which convinced her that her diet should be plant-based only. Continued progress and pb after pb provided evidence to both her and others that the vegan diet worked. She made the Australian team at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, and hopefully has her best years on the track still to come.