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For years, the popular paradigm surrounding athletes was that their diets must include animal-based protein for optimum performance and endurance. But what about those who have adopted a vegan diet?
‘Going vegan’ isn’t just a passing diet fad or trend. A plant-based diet is a smart way to eat, whether you’re an athlete or not. From improvements in overall health to reducing one’s environmental footprint, being a vegan is a holistic and sustainable way of living.
Many elite athletes have adopted a plant-based diet. According to BatsFinder, high profile sports people including tennis players, bodybuilders, basketball players and footballers have all proven that being vegan and an athlete is possible. And in many cases, these vegan athletes are outperforming their non-vegan competitors in the sports field.
Let’s look at some of the most high-profile vegan athletes who have proven that they perform better on a plant-based diet.
1. Novak Djokovic
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic is ranked #1 in the world, and he’s a vegan. In recent press conferences, Djokovic explained that his decision to adopt a plant-based diet, which helped him to further succeed in his game.
The tennis star explains that he needs an optimal balance between strength, power, and speed to perform his best. Here’s the interesting thing, his vegan diet hasn’t hindered any of these components while performing on the court.
Along with other high-profile vegan athletes such as Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the world number one tennis player revealed on Netflix documentary ‘Game Changer’ that he only eats dairy-free and gluten-free foods.
2. Patrik Baboumian
Strongman Patrik Baboumian proves that athletes can be strong and muscular while on a vegan diet. After winning the title of Germany’s Strongest Man back in 2011, Baboumian went vegan. ‘The Vegan Badass’ decided to go meat-free out of compassion that he felt for animals.
This decision has no way affected his ability to pull, lift, and press great weights, explaining that the switch from meat to meatless was easier than anticipated. He claims he feared his performance would suffer but found that “my sporting prowess was totally stable. The only thing that changed was that my overall sense of well-being noticeably improved.”
It’s true that a diet high in dairy and animal protein can lead to over-acidification of the body, resulting in chronic heartburn and indigestion that may hinder an athlete’s performance.
3. Alex Morgan
2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Alex Morgan explains that a vegan diet fuels her soccer game by making her stronger and helping with fatigue and recovery.
“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 wasn’t detrimental at all.”
Many people don’t realize that it’s entirely possible to get the right balance of macronutrients from meat-free alternatives. Like Morgan, many athletes tend to find a vegan plant-based diet that can lead to quicker recovery from workouts and help in injury prevention, stamina, and overall performance.
4. Colin Kaepernick
More and more professional NFL players are turning to a vegan diet for better performance on and off the field.
Former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick chooses a vegan diet for ethical reasons (he is a known advocate for the environment and animal rights) as well as to improve his performance as an athlete. Other NFL players who have opted to go plant-based include Tom Brady, who credits his high vegetable diet for his increased strength and flexibility.
Plant-based foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol improve blood viscosity and thickness, allowing more oxygen to feed the muscles. This, in turn, leads to increased flexibility, conditioning, and improved athletic performance.
Athletes such as those mentioned above prove that going vegan can actually help a person perform better in the competitive field. Vegan athletes are not merely switching to plant-based diets for environmental reasons for the evidence of vastly improved health, strength, recovery, and injury prevention.
An athlete relies on overall health and vitality to outperform opponents and win competitions. A vegan diet aids in improving a person’s health and bodily functions, ensuring optimum performance. In the end, a healthy diet will always reign supreme when it comes to getting body-strong and reaching the next level of performance.