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!

Yup, these sporting powerhouses are all about being at the top of their physical game, and with a plant based diet offering such benefits as reduced inflammation, better recovery times and overall improved health – who could blame them?

Not feeling quite so pumped? We’ll get you motivated with these ten inspiring vegan and vegetarian athletes who are smashing their competition and taking home a multitude of winning titles.

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Top 10 Athletes Who Are Making Major Plant-Powered Gains!


1. VENUS WILLIAMS

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Williams opted to follow a vegan diet in 2011 after being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, Sjogren’s syndrome. According to Williams, since her lifestyle change, not only has her health experienced great improvement but it has enhanced her athletic ability too!

Better still, after supporting her sister and knowing how a vegan diet has changed Venus’s life, Serena has also adopted a plant-based diet. Talk about a power-duo!

2. TONY GONZALEZ

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Gonzalez could be said to be one of the most well-known vegans in the NFL.
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, Pulaski exposed him to ‘The China Study; this became the catalyst for his decision to ditch meat and abandon the traditional American diet.

3. RICH ROLL

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After realising at age 40 that his health was is jeopardy because of his unhealthy diet and walking up a flight of stairs left him gasping for breath, Rich Roll decided to take charge and adopted a training regime, alongside whole-foods vegan diet.

“I have found that I am able to repair my body and recover well from workouts and am able to bounce back fresh day in and day out. Believe me, if I felt like I really needed to eat meat or dairy over the last 3 years, I would have. I just never felt like I really needed to.”

Since going vegan in 2006, Rich has gained the title of one of the ’25 Fittest Guys In The World’ by Men’s Fitness Magazine in 2009 and is smashing out top results in ultra-marathon and Ironman races!

4. RICKY WILLIAMS

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“I wouldn’t eat a chicken if it dropped dead in front of me holding up a sign that said ‘Eat Me.’”

Ricky Williams feels strongly about not eating meat, despite ridicule from other players in NFL and coaches. His vegan food is dubbed ‘Ricky Food,  as Ricky is one of the plant-based athletes within his sport. However, this doesn’t get Williams down and he even opened PROOF, a restaurant in which he strongly encourages the ‘Ricky Picks’, which ensure veg-eaters get just as good, if not better meal options than meat-eaters.

5. DAVID HAYE

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Cutting it {animal products} out made me feel immediately better and stronger than ever. I’m now fitter than I’ve ever been. I punch harder than ever. I’m more determined. I’m faster…”

Around the end of 2014, David Haye made a major dietary change and went vegan. David is a British professional boxer and now a passionate advocate for the lifestyle and promotes the lifestyle as the most effective pathway for professional athletes. He encourages everyone to try it, even if only for a day or two as he has experienced first-hand the benefits of being plant-based.

When questioned upon where he gets his protein and strength, David effectively shuts down skepticism by using the animal kingdom as an example of plant-power.

6. LAURA DENNIS

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Known by her current ring name, ‘Allie’, this Canadian professional wrestler may look cute and sweet but she is one powerhouse and very strong, muscular woman; which she credits to her wholesome, vegan diet!

Dennis has been vegan since the age of 14 and the abundance of protein, nutrient and carbohydrate-dense meals she consumes has enabled the major muscle gains she makes and nourishes plus fuels her body to a high-intensity standard!

When travelling for competitions, Allie packs protein bars, rice cakes, peanut butter, oat meals to fuel her training and ensure she eats a nourishing, wholesome diet on the go.

7. MAC DANZIG

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A vegan MMA fighter? Mac Danzig competes in a field which is abundant with high amounts of carnivorous-eaters so Danzig’s vegan diet can make him stick out like a sore thumb. Luckily we’re witnessing athletes becoming more open-minded to plant-based eating as the rewards just simply speak for themselves.

A successful clean, plant-eating machine, Mac Danzig has even featured in popular documentary, Forks Over Knivesspoken to various press agencies and media on many occasions and deeply discussed his diet during interviews.

While Danzig’s diet changes according to his training goals and requirements at different times, some of his dietary staples include tempeh, quinoa, black beans and lentils, brown rice, portobello mushrooms, seitan, nuts, and seeds.

8. FIONA OAKES

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Fiona Oakes is an elite marathon runner, Vegan Society ambassador and holds 3 world marathon titles! Not only is her personal best only 2hrs and 38minutes, Oakes has competed in more than 40 marathons!

Oakes describes veganism as a true passion in her life as she went vegan at the young age of 6, ‘for the animals’. Furthermore, Oakes is among one of only 800 female UK firefighters on reserve and she runs her own animal sanctuary which is home to 400+ animals, Tower Hill Stables. Oakes sure has the best of all worlds, saving lives through dietary choices and saving lives through her sanctuary.

“Veganism is everything to me. It touches every part of my life…my strengths as an athlete are that I am not an athlete for myself. I am doing it for the benefit of others, which makes me work much harder.”

9. STEPH DAVIS

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Steph Davis is a wonder-woman athlete who was the first woman to summit the icy peak of Torre Egger, Argentina: a mighty 2685m! She is also the only woman to have climbed a 5.11 grade mountain, free-solo. This climber, skydiver and base-jumper is world-leading and has been vegan for more than 12 years! Davis discovered that veganism does more than just improve physical performance and ability once she ventured into the depths of veganism, she found it became part of all parts of her life.

“Eating a vegan diet gives me optimum physical and mental awareness.”
Furthermore, after adopting a vegan lifestyle, Davis is certain that she has gained a better adaptive connection with her environment.

10. PATRIK BABOUMIAN

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Last but certainly not least, Baboumian won the title of German Junior Bodybuilder, 1999 at the young age of 20 and his achievements didn’t stop there. His current titles include the world record for under 105kg log-lift with a 165 lift and the German record for heavyweight log-lift, which he was won 4 times consecutively.

After being vegetarian for many year prior turning vegan in 2011, Baboumian proudly became an influence for other athletes and people to go vegan or try veganism.

“I just found myself thinking that if I would have to kill the animals I ate with my own hands I couldn’t because I was to compassionate. I felt that I was fooling myself eating meat considering my inability to kill an animal so I just thought I’d better be honest to myself and stop eating meat.”

 


Image Credits: Gizmodo | Yourperfecttrainer | Triathlete