More and more professional athletes are defying the stereotype. The stereotype that you have to eat a lot of meat to excel in sports. A new type of professional athlete has emerged, one that claims they are stronger and better than their former meat-eating selves.
All of the following vegan athletes have adopted a vegan diet for different reasons, but what is most noteworthy is the fact that they are at the top of their respective sports. Curious to know who they are? Meet 10 famous vegan athletes who are convinced that plants provide all the fuel they need to dominate their sport:
1. David Carter
Sport: Football. Carter is a free agent defensive end who played football for the Arizona Cardinals. He was originally drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft. He also played football for the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, and Chicago Bears.
When he became a vegan: 2014.
Why he went vegan: He decided to become vegan after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He says his health has improved and he’s stronger now.
What he loves most about being a vegan: Carter loves educating people about why a vegan lifestyle is a healthy life choice. He also works for Vegan Outreach.
2. Mirco Bergamasco
Sport: Rugby. Mirco is a professional Italian rugby player who plays currently with Sacramento and also plays internationally with Italy. He plays primarily the center position, but occasionally plays winger or even goal kicker.
When he became a vegan: Around 2012/2013.
Why he went vegan: It took him awhile to go fully vegan. He started out by playing around with his diet, slowly eliminating fish, eggs, etc. He cites the choice is based primarily around animal ethics and the environment, but also out of respect for his body.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He claims there were no challenges, only benefits. The benefits were better sleep, which is important for a sportsman, less inflammation of the tendons and a greater attention span, especially while training.
What he loves most about being a vegan: He is able to recover much faster after hard matches or workouts.
3. Patrik Baboumian
Sport: Strongman and Bodybuilding. He holds world records in many strongman competitions. He was also named the first Vegan Athlete of the Year.
When he became a vegan: 2011.
Why he went vegan: He went vegan because he loved animals. He followed a vegetarian diet for years before he went vegan.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He enjoys using his platform to share his message about veganism to others.
What he loves most about being a vegan: He feels stronger than ever.
4. Mac Danzig
Sport: MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship)
When he became a vegan: 2004.
Why he went vegan: He became a vegan for ethical reasons.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He says his body heals and recovers much faster between workouts and his digestion is better.
What he loves most about being a vegan: Inspiring others to eat vegan.
5. Nate Diaz
Sport: MMA and UFC. He’s currently ranked #6 in the UFC under the lightweight division.
When he became a vegan: 2003.
Why he went vegan: He started the diet to improve his health.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He credits his diet for helping him win fights against Connor McGregor and others.
What he loves most about being a vegan: He says he feels stronger than ever before.
6. Pat Neshek
Sport: Major League Baseball. He made his baseball debut with the Minnesota Twins and has played for the San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.
When he became a vegan: 2005.
Why he went vegan: He became a vegan for health reasons and after reading The China Study.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He says he started performing better after switching to a vegan diet.
What he loves most about being a vegan: He likes being a vegan because he knows his diet is humane and doesn’t cause animals to suffer.
7. Robert Cheeke
Sport: Bodybuilding. It wouldn’t be a vegan athlete list without including Robert Cheeke, founder of veganbodybuilding.com.
When he became a vegan: 1995.
Why he went vegan: His sister introduced him to veganism when he was just a teenager. He embraced the lifestyle because he grew up on a farm and formed bonds with the animals.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: Cheeke says his bodybuilding performance has improved over the years thanks to eating a clean diet.
What he loves most about being a vegan: Cheeke’s really focused on promoting veganism. He is the founder and president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness and is a proud vegan activist and motivational speaker.
8. David Smith
Sport: Rowing and Cycling. He won gold at the 2009 World Rowing Championships and 2012 Summer Paralympics.
When he became a vegan: 2012.
Why he went vegan: He was sick after the 2012 games and wanted to get better.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He says he can recover faster after training and has more energy now than ever before.
What he loves most about being a vegan: His body heals faster and he can perform better even though he’s had major surgery.
9. John Joseph
Sport: Ironman. He’s competed in five Ironman triathlon competitions.
When he became a vegan: 1981.
Why he went vegan: He decided to go vegan after he became a roadie for a Rastafarian punk band named Bad Brains. He also stopped doing drugs and eating processed food.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He said he’s really benefited from being vegan since he has an enormous amount of energy and recovers much quicker after training.
What he loves most about being a vegan: He enjoys spreading the word to other people about how veganism has changed his life. He also wrote a book about his vegan lifestyle.
10. Kendrick Farris
Sport: Olympic Weightlifting. Kendrick has been to a number of Summer Olympics, where he has consistently placed in the top 10. He recently broke an American Record at the US Olympic Trials in 2016 in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Lastly, he has a gold medal in each of the past 2 Pan American Championships.
When he became a vegan: 2014.
Why he went vegan: Inspired by the birth of his son and his ancestral roots, he wanted to get back to living the purest form of life possible, which in his mind started with his diet.
The challenges/benefits of being a vegan: He claims he is lighter and his body recovers much faster than on a non-vegan diet. He also states his mind is a lot clearer and he can focus better.
What he loves most about being a vegan: His mind is extremely clear, he is less easily flustered and his attitude is totally different.
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