Top 10 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Vegan

September 16, 2019

Top 10 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Vegan

A vegan or vegetarian diet, which prioritizes grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, provides a high carbohydrate content in balance with the protein and fat that the body needs to train and compete even at high levels of sports demand. Meet with us 10 athletes that you didn't know were vegan.

Number 10: Griff Whalen

National Football League [NFL] Ravens wide receiver Griff Whalen has attributed his improved performance to a plant-based diet. The American football player has reported smoother joints and quicker recovery times after forgoing animal products altogether.

A vegan for four years now, the NFL player has first started eating a plant-based diet for a 28-day program but has since stuck with it. Whalen mainly focuses on eating unprocessed foods, with little to no added oils and sugars, according to Men's Fitness.

For breakfast, the 27-year-old sportsman has overnight oatmeal with cashew milk, topped with nuts and seeds. He later snacks on a banana, berry, and greens smoothie after a workout, followed by a large portion of grains with lots of veggies for lunch. Dinner is big spinach or kale salad with veggies.

Number 9: Jermain Defoe

When Defoe announced his transition to a vegan diet in 2017, he received widespread mainstream coverage. During this time he didn’t shy away from talking about how it helped him remain at the peak of his fitness into his mid-thirties. He even stated that he was promoting the diet to his younger teammates. 

The proof is of course in the (vegan) pudding, and the fact that he has proven an athlete can excel on this diet beyond the expected years of a top-flight footballer is a powerful ambassador for veganism in itself. Defoe is one of a number of plant-based soccer stars now 

Number 8: Morgan Mitchell

Morgan Mitchell is living proof that plant-based eating can power you to the highest peak of fitness. Unbeaten in the women’s 400-meter race during the 2016 season – winning all 12 races to take the national title – this talented sprinter from Melbourne has secured her spot at the Olympics in Rio.

“I have been vegan for a year and a half. That’s really helped with everything: energy, health, the environment. I am one of those people who actually care. It’s what I chose to do.” She says, “I’ll wake up, I’ll have two pieces of banana with maple syrup, peanut butter on rye bread and then a smoothie, which will have every vegetable and fruit that you can imagine. Then, for a snack, I will have a chia pod and some dates. I’ll have a tofu burger and some rice for lunch. And I’ll make something up for dinner: a vegan pizza with vegan cheese or noodles. When you learn to love it, it comes easy.”

Number 7: Austin Aries

Aries is an outspoken vegan having transitioned from vegetarianism in 2011. He’s appeared in PETA videos to encourage others to adopt a plant-based lifestyle and, even more impressively, penned a memoir dedicated to the benefits of a vegan diet.

Number 6: Scott Jurek

And for almost two decades now, Jurek has been a vegan. He eased into it starting in college, cutting out meat, then eschewing fish and becoming a firmly ovo-lacto vegetarian, then finally eschewing all animal products completely. The decision was precipitated by his family history of chronic disease, including his mother’s multiple sclerosis. “I grew up hating vegetables, eating meat and potatoes,” he says.

 “When I was in college I started reading more about different diets and vegetarian and vegan diets really came up quite a bit. As I worked in hospitals through physical therapy school it became clear to me that I needed to change my diet to avoid the health problems I was seeing. It was definitely a long-term decision rather than one made for short-term performance gains.”

Number 5: Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving may have occasional beef with his Boston Celtics teammates, but he's sworn it out of his diet.

The Boston Celtics guard is starring in a new ad campaign for Beyond Meat, a health food company that produces plant-based meat substitutes. The company's investors include several notable currents and former athletes, including Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Paul, DeAndre Hopkins, Victor Oladipo, Lindsey Vonn, DeAndre Jordan and Harrison Barnes.

Number 4: Barny du Plessis

The vegan bodybuilder has competed in 55 shows over 20 years and won Mr. Universe 2014. He said his meat-free diet made him stronger than ever.

Barny joined locals in Norwich town centre to help promote the 2016 Face Off campaign.

He finds mass farming methods are disgusting, shameful, inhumane and barbaric. He believes that these animals have to endure a life of misery, suffering and torture from the very minute they are born until their brutal death. Mass farming is heartbreaking and wrong on every level.

Number 3: Tia Blanco 

U.S. professional surfer Tia Blanco has spoken out about how a plant-based had benefited her career. A vegetarian since childhood, and a vegan for five years, Blanco also said that she believes plant meat burger brand Beyond Meat 'will change the world'.

She says: "Veganism has benefited me in many ways, including my energy and clarity."

Number 2: Carl Lewis

World famous track star Carl Lewis wasn't always a vegetarian. But he eventually went even further: he adopted a vegan diet to prepare for the World Championships in 1991, where he says he ran the best race of his life. 

Number 1: Venus Williams

Venus Williams adopted a vegan diet on the recommendation of her doctor, after being diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a debilitating and incurable autoimmune disease, which causes excessive fatigue. Doctors encouraged her to adopt a raw vegan diet to help manage her diagnosis, and her sister and fellow tennis player Serena took on the diet to support Venus. She was told that the raw diet would help with fatigue and joint pain.

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