18 Vegan Athletes Who Swear By Their Plant-Based Diets – Women’s Health

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The previous school of thought: In order to get big and strong, you need to eat meat, and lots of it. But now, tons of vegan and plant-based athletes are proving everyone wrong. In fact, recent research from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that vegan athletes get the benefit of a higher intake of carbohydrates, fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and other micronutrients than omnivores. And all of that can contribute to prime performance, whether they're lifting weights or running miles.

So yeah, you can totally stick to that veggie-centric life and crush those PRs. Need more proof? Check out some badass vegan athletes who are showing the world that strong bodies arent only made at a steakhouse.

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1Alex Morgan

2019 FIFA Women's World Cup champ Alex Morgan fuels her soccer game with a vegan diet. "It makes me stronger and helps with fatigue and recovery, Alex told USA Today in an interview. And during the World Cup, she shared the U.S. Women's National Team chef prepared special vegan meals for the athlete.

"I never thought it was possible I could be playing at an elite level as a professional athlete with a plant-based diet," she said. "Then I realized it wasnt detrimental at all."

2Tia Blanco

This World Surfing Games champion has been riding the vegan wave for the last seven years, after having maintained a vegetarian diet from birth. On her YouTube channel, she shared that she starts her day with refreshing lemon water and a vegan smoothie made with in-season, fruits, leafy greens, and sources of healthy fats like hemp seeds.

But its not always smooth sailing. She told Great Vegan Athletes that traveling makes it particularly difficult to stick to a raw vegan diet, so she ends up opting for lots of pasta, brown rice, and bread on the road. Hey, nothing wrong with a little carbo-loading before a major event.

3Meagan Duhamel

Meat wasnt behind the metals for this two-time figure skating world champion and Olympic gold medalist. After reading a book about veganism at an airport bookstore, Meagan told CBC she immediately cleaned out her fridge of meat products and made the switch to a diet focused on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Since switching to veganism, she's noticed major boosts in her energy levels and athletic performance on the ice.

4Steph Davis

Its always been difficult for this world-class rock climber to reconcile her love of animals and simultaneously consume them. So in 2002, Steph shared on her blog that she cut out animal products to stop funding an industry that holds animals captive in wretched living conditions [while being] killed violently. The vegan athlete adds that while fighting animal cruelty is her main goal, if I climb better and feel better on top of it, all the better.

5Venus Williams

When the former Grand Slam and Olympic tennis champion was diagnosed with autoimmune disease Sjorgen syndrome in 2011, she looked to a raw vegan diet to help her get back on the court in full swing. But more recently, Venus told Insider that she's added a few non-raw items back into her diet, like rice, potatoes, and lentils to sustain her training.

6Molly Cameron

The only trans athlete to compete in the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup, Molly's success as a pro bike racer is due in part to her vegan diet. She told Viva La Vegan that she cut out meat accidentally in 1999 because she didnt like the taste. But what motivated her to adopt a stricter vegan diet were the positive effects on the environment and her improved athletic performance. Eating organic and whole food keeps my energy level and mental focus consistent," Molly told Organic Athlete. "It is the logical step when living a super active and conscious lifestyle.

7Hannah Teter

After watching the documentary Earthlings, this animal-loving Olympic-snowboarding gold champion became a vegan athlete. But after taking a closer look at how factory farms treat animals, she decided to cut out animal byproducts entirely. My plant-based diet has opened up more doors to being an athlete," Hannah said in an interview with HuffPost. "Its a whole other level that Im elevating to. I stopped eating animals about a year ago, and its a new life. I feel like a new person, a new athlete.

8Jahina Malik

Bodybuilder Jahina is known for a lot more than her impressive lineup of titles like NPC Eastern USA Bodybuiding Champion and IFBB Pro Physique Pro Card holder. As the first ever vegan bodybuilder since birth, she told Meat Free Athlete that she considers veganism a lifestyle, and not a diet. Plant-based foods like couscous, vegan chicken, and tofu help her recover from tough workouts. When asked about the advantages of being a vegan athlete, she told Plant Built: For me, its breaking all the stereotypes and barriers that vegans cant bodybuild.

9Morgan Mitchell

Runners are notoriously focused on upping their carb intake to promote strength and endurance on the road or track, but this Olympic sprinter takes pride in finding wholesome protein-rich, plant-based foods to fuel her incredible feats of athleticism. Perhaps its no coincidence that she won her first Olympic medal two years after swearing off meat and its byproducts. I recover a lot quicker than I used to, the vegan athlete told Live Kindly. Its easier to keep my weight down and I havent been sick at all.

10Pat Neshek

Baseball isnt all hot dogs and cheese fries. For free agent pitcher Pat, its about optimizing performance as a vegan athlete, he told the Star Tribune. While his teammates have teased him for his plant-based food choices, he takes solace in knowing his game has improved since first going vegan after reading The China Study. Hey, at least sunflower seeds are vegan-approved.

11Patrik Baboumian

You might equate a vegan diet with scrawny, sinewy muscles, but strongman Patrik is anything but that at five foot seven and 256 pounds. After earning the title of Germanys Strongest Man in 2011, he went vegan shortly thereafter, according to Barbend. On his YouTube channel, he shared what a typical day of eating looks like: vegan sausage, falafel, oven fries, tofu, and smoothies, clocking in at over 5,000 calories and 400 grams of protein.

12Colin Kaepernick

Football fans know and love Colin for his boundless skill and agility as a quarterback and former San Francisco 49er, as well as his political activism advocating for racial equality in America. Its thus little surprise that Kaepernicks compassion extends towards animals as well, and he sticks to a vegan diet. [LET'S CITE WHERE THIS LINK IS GOING TO]

13Sarah Stewart

Superstar Sarah won three Australian championships, placed in the All-Star Five for five years, and won three Paralympic gamesand she credits her success to a vegan diet, which she adopted in her late teens. I think being vegan makes me healthier," she told Great Vegan Athletes. "I certainly believe that vegetable carbs and protein along with all their nutrients build better, cleaner bodies, including muscles, without all the bad-for-you animal fats. And trying to avoid causing pain and suffering along the way is a great thing too.

14Abel Trujillo

Having recently competed in the lightweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship as a mixed martial artist, Abel, also known as Killa, has a gentler side fans dont often see on camera. He told Raise Vegan that he wanted to make veganism a part of his life after taking up Kundalini yoga. Energetically, this type of yoga is a sacred science of becoming in your higher-self, so your diet must be pure and clean, he said in an interview. This is why all the holiest people on the planet [] dont eat meat. He looks to foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts to heal and purify the body.

15Madi Serpico

Professional triathlete Madi Serpico is all about life as a vegan athlete. "I did some research and watched Forks [O]ver Knives and Earthlings and decided that I didnt want any part of animal cruelty, not to mention putting poison in my body, she told Viva.

16Ruth Heidrich

After being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in her forties, Ruth switched to a vegan diet, according to her website. Two years later, she became the first vegan athlete to run the Kona Ironman Triathlon. Now, at 83 years old, she's competed in over 900 races, including five more Ironman Triathlonsproving a vegan lifestyle can fuel incredible athletic feats, at any age.

17Rocky Luedeker

Sure, age is just a number, but 63-year-old Leudeker wouldnt have been able to break 14 powerlifting world records and 33 state and national records without the help of the vegan diet she adopted 16 years ago. I eat a variety of foods with various grains, beans, vegetables, tofu and a bowl of fruit for dessert, she told Vegan Health and Fitness magazine. "The morning of a competition, I eat a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter mixed in, and a glass of grapefruit or orange juice. The only supplement that I take is turmeric. I do not use protein powder or take B12 or any other supplement.

18Dana Glowacka

Dana Glowacka holds the women's world record for the longest plank. (FYI: It's 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 55 seconds, according to Guinness World Records.) To make it even more impressive, Dana is a vegan athlete. "Vegan diets are the best to prepare for endurance and recoveryI am absolutely convinced!" she wrote on Instagram.

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18 Vegan Athletes Who Swear By Their Plant-Based Diets - Women's Health

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