Doubtful that a vegan diet will provide sufficient nutrients, protein and energy to sustain a professional athlete? This list may just make you think again! All these athletes mentioned below are all supporting the vegan lifestyle and in doing so are performing better than ever. A plant based diet offering such benefits as reduced inflammation, better recovery times and overall improved health is what these athletes are after.
PledgeSports has compiled a list of world-class vegan athletes who are at the top of their game — and have a fully vegan lifestyle to thank for it.
Venus Williams – Tennis Player
Venus is an American tennis player who has encapsulated the world with her immense tennis ability of the last 20 years. She is a multiple Grand Slam both in singles and doubles. With 5 Wimbledon titles and 4 Olympics Golds, she is a powerhouse of an athlete. But did you know since 2011, Venus is now one of the most successful vegan athletes after following a vegan diet since she was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome. Her tennis career almost came to a grinding halt however the vegan diet has now helped her with joint pain and fatigue. She began following a raw vegan diet, which typically involves eliminating all animal products and foods cooked above 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tony Gonzalez – NFL Player
One of the most famous NFL vegan players ever is Tony Gonzalez. He is American football tight end and actor, who played 17 seasons in the National Football League and current analyst on Fox NFL’s pregame show. After an unplanned meeting with David Pulaski on a flight once, Gonzalez noticed the difference between their plates and when he enquired why this was he soon ditched the meat and diary for an all out vegan feast.
David Haye – Boxer
David Haye is a British boxer with world titles in two weight categories. In 2008, he won three of the four major boxing world titles at cruiserweight. What may surprise you is that David follows a strict vegan diet plan and is one of a few famous boxing vegan athletes. Many people say not to go vegan as you will lose out on the protein but if a professional boxer can look this good then what are you missing out on? Haye has previously announced that he has a full time chef that helps him prepare all of this vegan food each day which allows him to get all his minerals and nutrients. David Haye is one of the most successful vegan athletes of his time!
Nate Diaz – UFC Fighter
Nate Diaz is a mixed martial artist currently competing in UFC — the world’s biggest mixed martial arts organisation. If Nate can wrestle and punch in a ring for 25 minutes and show no sign of fatigue then his diet must be working. After becoming vegan at the age of 18, Nate has said that – “I think you’re a smarter and more intelligent fighter [when you go vegan]. Me and my brother are at the top of the game and have been for a long time.” Diaz is the most successful vegan athlete to ever step into the octagon.
Heather Mills – Skiier
Now known as “the fastest disabled woman on the plant,” vegan skier Heather Mills has lead an incredible life. After starting her early life as an entrepreneur, Mills has gone on to be a multiple Downhill Skiing Champion. While she has previously used a raw vegan diet, Heather now eats wholefood vegan food. As a world leader in her sport, she plans to keep going and achieve more. “My plan is to improve the world with Veganism and that includes showing that healthy Vegans can be the best in sport.”
Kendrick Farris – Weightlifter
Can you be one of the most successful vegan athletes and lift heavy objects? Kendrick Farris has proved you can. Farris is an American Olympic weightlifter and finished 11th in his weight class at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Who says a vegan cannot lift heavy weights? Farris has gone on to say “We shouldn’t get so caught up with ‘protein, protein, protein.’ Because you can get an excess of protein, and most of it just gets passed through the body.”
Scott Jurek – Long Distance Runner
Scott Jurek is an American ultramarathon runner and one of the first vegan athletes known to the public, a winner of 16 prestigious ultramarathon titles. Scott has been vegan since 1997 and practices and advocates a 100% vegan diet and claims this is crucial in supporting endurance, recovery and health. On deciding to go vegan in college, Jurek said: “It was definitely a long-term decision rather than one made for short-term performance gains.”
Jermain Defoe – Footballer
Famous for his insane goal scoring rate of over 150 Premier League Goals, Defoe is one of England’s finest assets. After his girlfriend convinced him to give veganism a try, he feels that he’s adopted the lifestyle change successfully. “I don’t find anything hard to give up, as such, because I know the feeling scoring goals gives me,” he adds.
Patrick Baboumian – Body Builder
Baboumian has been a vegetarian since 2005, and became a vegan in 2011. It’s no big secret that a lot of people still think that you can’t make gains on a vegan diet. Patrick has competed in many weight lifting and body building events and came out triumphant in each. In 2013, he broke the world record for the yoke walk by carrying 550kg (1212.54 pounds) for a distance of 10 meters only to break his own record in 2015 be carrying 560kg (1234.59 pounds).
Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1 Driver
Four-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is now a healthy eating driving machine and a relatively new member to the list of vegan athletes after adopting a vegan diet earlier in 2017. After talking to CNN, Hamilton went on to say that “It’s crazy. I’m not putting more weight on because, with this new plant-based diet, I can have more carbs which is contradictory of what you’d normally have thought diet-wise, but I’m not going to complain, I love pancakes so it’s great. Hamilton is now of the most successful vegan athletes ever.
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