Throughout the sporting world, vegan athletes are no longer an anomaly. Check out this profile of eleven prominent pros from eight different sports who follow a vegan diet.
For many decades, the National Football League posed a seemingly insurmountable barrier to vegans, and many athletes assumed vegans couldn’t attain the muscle mass and the strength required for NFL competition. But during the 2018 season, more than a dozen members of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans went vegan. Standout wide receiver Griff Whalen includes the words “100% #vegan athlete” in his Twitter bio. Elsewhere in the league Colin Kaepernick tweeted the hashtag #NotBadForAVegan to accompany a training photograph.
Over in the NBA, Chris Paul’s performance took a big leap forward when he switched to a vegan diet. Perhaps the most impressive showings by vegan athletes are in the fields of ultra-endurance competitions, including running, cycling, and swimming. Rich Roll is a long-time vegan who could well be the most impressive ultra-endurance athlete of any era. His many feats included doing five Iron Man distance triathlons over a five day period.
Nutrition Needs for Vegan Athletes
When it comes to sports nutrition, the primary special need for athletes is to simply eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods. Additionally, weight lifters and other athletes doing heavy strength training must also boost their protein intake somewhat.
Everyone from a professional athlete to a weekend golfer stands to benefit from a well-planned vegan or vegan-leaning diet. And it’s reassuring that vegan diets can deliver the goods to anyone who wants to enhance their athletic performance. If you want to adopt a well-planned vegan diet, check out our How to Go Vegan article, as well as our Vegan Nutrition Guide.
You don’t need to become an elite vegan athlete to experience the benefits of exercise and basic fitness. Our comprehensive Vegan Fitness Guide will show you a number of easy and rewarding ways to become more physically active.
Recommended Vegan Fitness Books
The first book every serious vegan athlete should read is Plant-Based Sports Nutrition, by D. Enette Larson-Meyer and Matt Ruscigno. The book offers comprehensive nutrition advice to optimize athletic performance, yet it refrains from bogging the reader down with complicated minutiae. You’ll get all the information you need—recipes, training advice, and meal plans—to help you meet your body’s needs during training and competition.
Regardless of whether you seek to increase strength, bulk, or endurance, there’s a vegan-oriented book that will provide you with solid advice for achieving your goals. Here are some of the best recent titles:
- No Meat Athlete, by Matt Frazier
- Finding Ultra, by Rich Roll
- Eat & Run, by Scott Jurek
- Plant-Based Muscle, by Cheeke & Espinoza
Not so long ago, veganism was widely regarded as incompatible with the training requirements for a number of sports. That is happily no longer the case, and some of the world’s most accomplished athletes are proving on a daily basis that a well-planned vegan diet can indeed fuel top-level athletic performance.