One of the biggest misconceptions about veganism is that it only works if you live a reasonably calm life that doesn’t require much physical effort. Undoubtedly, many people seem to think that following a plant-based diet is not enough for energy and nutrition, let alone demanding athletics. Of course, science has proven that this is incorrect. As we mentioned in our article called “Going Vegan Can Improve Both Your Physical and Mental Health”, the high fiber and nutrient content of vegan and vegetarian diets includes plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. As a result, plant-based diets can lower the risk of many chronic concerns like cholesterol, unstable body weight, diabetes, cancer, and more. On top of this, veganism has been found to improve mental clarity and mental health. As such, it’s no surprise that many elite athletes have adopted veganism themselves. Proving naysayers wrong at every turn, here are some vegan athletes from some of the most diverse sports who credit veganism with helping their epic athletic prowess.
Even if you don’t follow Formula 1 updates, you’ve likely heard of record-breaking driver Lewis Hamilton. While most headlines celebrate him for his multiple World Championship titles or his hefty paychecks, the 10th highest-paid athlete in the world is also known as a very vocal vegan. Through interviews and social media, the five- time F1 champion has espoused the benefits of veganism and the way it can combat some of the environment’s biggest issues. While his straightforward takes have sometimes raised a few eyebrows, there’s no doubting his sincerity to the cause. As part of his mission to make veganism more accessible and appealing, Hamilton has even co-founded a vegan fast food chain called Neat Burger. Just this April, news
outlets revealed that even Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in Neat Burger’s US expansion. With this move, the plant-based burger chain will expand to another 14 stores aside from the eight it already has in the London.
Considered one of the greatest poker players of all time, top poker player Daniel
Negreanu has been a staple on the pro circuit since the early 2000s. Over his more than 20-year career, Negreanu has bagged many achievements that cemented his status as a poker legend. These include winning over $42 million in live tournament cashes, six World Series of Poker bracelets, and two World Poker Tour titles. Though he’s only in his 40s, Negreanu is often considered one of poker’s most effective ambassadors. To date, the Poker Hall of Famer has helped shed light and raise millions for various charity poker events. The most recent cause Negreanu has become a champion of? Veganism. After giving up dairy in 2015, Negreanu says he has been able to stay more focused, lower his inflammation, and also aid in animal welfare and sustainability. Today, Negreanu credits veganism with helping him get to what he considers the best shape of his life. On his social media, Negreanu regularly helps inspire fans to try going plant-based by sharing recipes and meals.
A 7-time Grand Slam winner and 4-time Olympic gold medalist, tennis star Venus Williams is also an advocate for veganism. Having already been plant-based for about a decade, Williams says that going fully vegan has helped her cope with her Sjörgen’s Syndrome. An autoimmune disease that she says left her in constant pain and unable to play tennis, Sjörgen’s almost cut Williams’ career short. Thankfully, after turning to veganism, Williams says her health and performance have been transformed. A believer in the power of balance, Williams says that it’s important to find a middle ground between whole foods and “comfort foods” like French fries. In this way, the five-time Wimbledon winner has found the diet sustainable and enjoyable. Williams is so invested in sharing the plant-based lifestyle that she also launched her own Vegan
protein drink called Happy Viking in 2020. At the end of the day, it’s encouraging to know that veganism isn’t just a health and moral choice for sports stars, it's also a literal game-changer. After all, research from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, states that plant-based diets (when properly
observed) can even support superior athletic performance. So, if your love of sports or athletics is the only thing stopping you from going vegan, take a page from these icons, and give plant-based a try.