Five Reasons Why Sport Is Going Vegan – Forbes

Veganism is on the rise worldwide and pop culture, retail and sports have taken notice.

Scientific evidence shows that diets high in unrefined plant foods are associated with beneficial health outcomes, including general health, immune function, cardiovascular health and lifespan. It would appear logical that plant based diets have the ability to enhance performance in a variety of areas, including sports.

LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Vegan strongman world record holder Patrik Baboumian poses for ... [+] portraits after talking about his veganism and the documentary Game Changers during Plant Powered Expo 2020 at Olympia London on February 2, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images).

Many critics have dismissed this shift in sports culture to a fad with no concrete scientific evidence to back it. And whether the merits can be substantiated or not, one thing is for sure plant based is a growing trend in the sports world with an increasing number of athletes advocating for its game changing qualities.

Here are five reasons why sports are going vegan.

Many plant-based products have more protein than meat

Traditionally athletes believed that the only way to meet their daily protein requirement was via meat consumption, but with increased awareness around nutrition, this has changed.

Many plant-based foods are actually richer in protein than meat. One ounce of meat protein contains 7 grams of protein, which is comparable to many plant based sources.

A 2019 German study, reported in the journal Nutrients found that athletes following a plant based diet with B-12 supplementation actually had marginally higher nutrient adequacy than athletes who were meat eaters.

With 15g of protein per serving, black beans for example, have more protein than a chicken drumstick and one cup of lentils has 18g of protein more than a hamburger. The need for other nutrients, such as calcium, iron, and vitamin B-12, can be met via plant based sources such as edemame which provides 27.6 per cent of the daily requirement of calcium, one cup of fortified orange juice which meets one half of the daily calcium requirement, spinach which carries more than twice the amount of iron than meat and dark chocolate which carries more than six times the amount of iron as meat. As for B-12, fortified foods and supplements can be used to ensure good health.

Sports drinks and performance enhancers are going plant based

According to research from Lumina Intelligence, 21 per cent of online bestselling protein powders in the USA are plant-based (March 2019).

A sharp increase in the availability of plant-based, performance enhancing products has made it easier and more enticing for athletes to embrace a plant-based lifestyle.

The sector is booming and is intensely competitive. Lumina reveals that there is an innovation race, as brands chase the elusive perfect plant protein with pea protein currently taking the number one spot.

Vegan sports nutrition is also coming in the form of pre-prepared meals and nutritional programs. In 2016 Tom Brady teamed up with Purple Carrot, a vegan meal delivery service to create a meatless, dairy-free TB12 performance meal plan.

Plant based gives endurance athletes an edge when it comes to heart health

In a 2019 review entitled, Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports, it was reported that the elevated cardiovascular risks faced by endurance athletes, such as atherosclerosis (plaque building up inside arteries) and myocardial damage (decreased blood flow to the heart) can be reduced by a plant based dairy free diet.

Researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have also suggested that a vegan diet can enhance athletic performance due to enhanced cardiovascular health, reduced blood pressure and cholesterol and weight loss.

Plant based diets are more conducive to recovery

Armenian-German strongest man in the world and former body builder, Patrik Baboumian credited his body building success to a vegan lifestyle. My recovery time was so much faster so I could train more, he said.

Evidence from Harvard Medical School shows that plants antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to shorten recovery times, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, lessen joint pain, and enable quicker healing from injuries. Plant based diets also improve blood viscosity, which helps to efficiently deliver oxygen around the body, promoting healing. All of these factors can also contribute to career longevity.

Pro athletes are endorsing the plant-based link to performance

The plant based shift in sports culture is evident in the Netflix documentary, The Game Changers produced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, that uses first hand testimonials from elite athletes to depict how a vegan diet improves athletic performance.

Venus Williams opted to transition to a raw, vegan diet when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Sjgrens syndrome that caused her to suffer from joint and muscle pain. In an interview with Health magazine, Williams revealed that her new diet was life changing, allowing her to return to tennis. I feel like Im doing the right thing for me," she said.

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 26: Venus Williams of the USA learns to make tanghulu (candied fruit) at ... [+] the 2019 China Open on September 26, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Pro athletes are increasingly adopting vegan or vegetarian diets, while advocating for their overall health benefits, improved performance and enhanced recovery. Footballer, Tom Brady eats a predominantly plant based diet, the Williams sisters are vegan, elite rock climber, Steph Davis is vegan Lionel Messi, Novak Djokovic, Colin Kaepernick, Lewis Hamilton The list goes on.

According to Barny du Plessis, the worlds first vegan bodybuilder and Mr Universe 2014, These days I train half as much, do half as much but get better results. Why? Only one answer, going vegan, GMO free, and organic. My body is running perfectly."

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Five Reasons Why Sport Is Going Vegan - Forbes

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