Our article ‘Some Vegan Options That May Help You’ discusses how vegan food facilitates good health. However, vegan food goes way beyond that by also being beneficial for physical activity and fitness. So let’s discuss five sports stars that have made the switch to a vegan diet and how this has helped their performance.
Yolanda Presswood is a vegan powerlifter. She went vegan in 2010 after reading a book called ‘The Ultimate pH Solution’, which talks about the acidic nature of animal products in our bodies. Being vegan helped her succeed in her powerlifting career. In October last year, she competed in the Masters 40-44, 67.5 kg category and broke the national record in squats. She was also awarded the best of all masters lifters. What made this even more impressive was that Presswood weighed 60.8, which was 6kg below the weight limit. In an interview, she said “I’ve been vegan seven years and lifting for five of those. Every ounce of muscle, every bit of strength has been built on just consuming plants.”
Mixed martial artist Nate Diaz became vegan at the age of 18, when he was inspired by his older brother and former Welterweight champion Nick Diaz. Making the switch mainly to improve performance, Diaz told Men’s Journal “I think you’re a smarter and more intelligent fighter [when you go vegan]. Me and my brother are at the top of the game and have been for a long time. We’re obviously doing something right.” Diaz is known for beating former UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor. This November, Nate Diaz will be vying for the UFC 244 BMF belt against Jorge Masvidal.
Venus Williams is one of the most celebrated tennis players in the world, winning seven Grand Slam singles titles and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. She’s also won the Wimbledon women’s singles title five times and has four Olympic gold medals. An article on ‘Successful Vegan Athletes’ by Coral, explains how Venus Williams changed her diet in response to being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Sjögren’s syndrome. Business Insider features an interview where the athlete talks about her switch to becoming a vegan: “Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.” Her first season back after being diagnosed saw Williams jump in the rankings from outside the top 100 to 24th. And she credits her new diet for helping her comeback strong.
Scott Jurek is a household name in the ultrarunning community. Jurek began his transition from ‘meat and potatoes’ to a full vegan diet during college where he studied physical therapy. Having seen what a bad diet can do to a person’s long-term health coupled with the looming family history of multiple sclerosis, Jurek decided to make the switch. Consequentially, a vegan diet helped him win numerous prestigious ultramarathons like the Hardrock Hundred, Badwater Ultramarathon and the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Understanding how a vegan diet has improved his running performance, he remarks: “If [athletes] aren’t fueled properly, they don’t have great results.”
Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris made the switch to veganism for religious reasons when his second son was born in 2014. In our article ‘Dos and Don’ts of a Vegan Diet’ we discuss the importance of not forgetting about protein. For a vegan weightlifter like Farris, this is essential. This tip worked to his success, as he became Team USA’s only male weightlifter in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He even went on to achieve his personal best of 377kg in the snatch, clean and jerk; holding the American record.