From Olympic-level soccer players to football quarterbacks, these professionals are entirely plant-powered.
If The Game Changers film taught us anything, it’s that vegans come in all shapes in sizes. Vegans can be hulking body builders, sleek yet powerful cyclists, and record-breaking endurance runners. More athletes than ever before are catching on to the vegan lifestyle for its incredible benefits in athletic performance and recovery. As any serious athlete knows, it’s not just how you train—but how you recover—that cumulates in optimum performance. Plants contain antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation and dramatically decrease the time needed to recover. When the pros flood their body with plant-based fuel, they’re getting a leg up on their competitors by decreasing their resting time and increasing their ability to train.
Here are 10 vegan professional athletes who are living proof of the benefits of a plant-based diet.
- Chris Smalling
Formerly a Manchester man, this UK soccer star earned a permanent spot on Italian team Roma after a season “on loan.” He switched to a plant-based diet following in the footsteps of his wife—model Sam Cooke—and noticed a considerable difference in his recovery and energy out on the field. With over a decade of professional soccer playing on his resume, he’s staying vegan to increase his longevity in sport and continue doing what he loves.
- Vivian Kong
This Hong Kong fencer is one to watch come the 2021 Olympics. She’s the first fencer from her region to ever to secure a World Cup title. She also competed in the 2016 Games in Rio, though she did not make it to the podium. Get excited to cheer her on this summer—she’s got her eyes on the gold.
- Lewis Hamilton
If you follow Formula One racing, you may have already known that Hamilton roots for the vegan team. He’s fairly generous with his words and funds—he’s an investor in several vegan companies and openly speaks to the benefits of a plant-based diet on human health, the planet, and the animals. One may not consider race car driving to be a particularly physical sport, but one look at Hamilton will make you reconsider. With seven Formula One world titles, it’s apparent the vegan diet is working for him.
- Petra Martic
Venus and Serena Williams are often noted for their plant-based lifestyle, but Martic is another tennis pro who’s caught on to the advantages of vegan fuel. Hailing from Croatia, she’s currently ranked number 21 in the world for women’s singles. With tournaments around the globe, her vegan diet is helping her stay strong, focused, and alert in the face of jet lag and hard training sessions.
- David Verburg
If Verburg’s name sounds familiar, you might recall a headline along the lines of “Olympic Sprinter Saves Tortoise from Oncoming Traffic.” This gold medalist appeared on Ellen a few years back after the media picked up on his heroic deed. He founded the Golden Tortoise Rescue Foundation to respond to the horrific number of tortoises in Florida who get killed every year by cars. When he’s not running sprints to save turtles, he’s fueling with plants and training for the 2021 Summer Olympics where he hopes to run in the individual 400-meter race.
- Rachael Adams
This Olympic bronze medalist is hungry for more. In lieu of joining teams overseas (as many professional volleyball athletes do during the off season), Adams has been hard at work at the Team USA volleyball training center in Orange County, CA. She first ditched animal products to help with her skin issues but kept it up once she realized how terrific it made her feel during workouts. She’s another one to watch this summer.
- Cam Newton
With Tom Brady’s departure to Tampa, Newton had some big shoes to fill. This young quarterback is relying on the power of plants to level up his game. Whether he continues to play for the Patriots or pivots to a new team, he’ll be one to keep an eye on when football season resumes this fall.
- Alex Morgan
Morgan is the coolest soccer mom. She’s an Olympic gold medalist, FIFA World Cup Champion, and mother to an adorable baby girl. Her stellar performance on the field has brought fans to their feet, and she does it all on a vegan diet. Morgan is role modeling at its finest.
- Zdeno Chara
When looking for an example of longevity in sport, all evidence points to Chara’s exceptional hockey career. He’s 43 years old and still playing with men decades younger. A plant-based diet protects athletes from the wear and tear of intense physical activity, and Chara is reaping these benefits after years spent on the ice. Formerly team captain of the Boston Bruins, he just started a new season with the Washington Capitals.
- Claressa Shields
Just try to tell Shields women can’t fight—see what happens. This vegan boxer has put in the work, and it’s resulted in two Olympic gold medals, making her the first American boxer in history to stand on the podium for two consecutive Olympic Games. Her accomplishments are unprecedented, and she continued this streak by fighting in the first women’s boxing match on pay-per-view. No doubt, this heavy-hitter needs all the recovery she can get, and her plant-based fuel enables her to keep on fighting.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete to enjoy the benefits of a vegan diet. 22 Days Nutrition makes it easy to get the fuel you need to tackle grueling workouts or hectic days. Check out our Shop page to stock up today.
Article by Tanya Flink