12 Athletes Who Get Their Fuel From Plants
Professional athletes use their bodies in incredible ways. Whether serving as a human bulldozer or striking a ball with colossal force, their bodies require loads of fuel in order to function as powerfully and efficiently as possible. And as the athletes prove below, fuel can come in many forms, and plant-based fuel has helped many achieve great things. Read on to see what this diverse bunch has to say about running on plants.
Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 Champion
“I have plenty of protein in my diet and I’ve gained muscle, and I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been. Wish I did it sooner.” Five-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, via Instagram, discussing the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet. According to Forbes, Hamilton was the world’s 12th highest-paid athlete in 2018 and is the highest-paid Formula 1 driver. Hamilton sites his concerns for the environment around climate change and animal welfare as his motivations for switching to a plant-based diet. He is vocal across his social media platforms about the benefits of plant-based eating and encourages his fans to also reduce meat in their diets.
Venus Williams, professional tennis player
“I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I wanted to maintain my performance on the court. Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible [through raw, vegan food],” she told Health. “Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.”
Derrick Morgan, American professional football player
“Overcoming the preconceived notions is the biggest part. I was a part of it. I used to believe athletes had to eat meat to maintain play, then I educated myself,” Derrick Morgan, NFL football player to ESPN. Morgan is a 100 percent plant-based athlete who has encouraged many of his Tennessee Titans teammates to join him in eating plant-based. He and many of the Titans players have also attributed improved energy, reduced inflammation and better performance to switching to a meatless diet.
Kyrie Irving, professional basketball player for the NBA’s Boston Celtics
“I’ve been on more of a plant-based diet, getting away from all the animals [products],” Irving told ESPN’s Chauncey Billups. Irving also credits plant-based eating with giving him more energy and endurance, which helps him sustain a high performance level throughout games. “So my energy is up, my body feels amazing.”
Hannah Teter, American Olympian snowboarder
“I feel stronger than I’ve ever been, mentally, physically, and emotionally,” Teter told HuffPost. “My plant-based diet has opened up more doors to being an athlete. It’s a whole other level that I’m elevating to. I stopped eating animals about a year ago, and it’s a new life. I feel like a new person, a new athlete.”
Scott Jurek, American Ultramarathoner
“I grew up hating vegetables, eating meat and potatoes,” he told GQ. “When I was in college I started reading more about different diets and the vegetarian and vegan diets really came up quite a bit. As I worked in hospitals through physical therapy school it became clear to me that I needed to change my diet to avoid the health problems I was seeing. It was definitely a long-term decision rather than one made for short-term performance gains.”
Jermain Defoe, English professional footballer
“I think I’ve managed [to adopt veganism] successfully,” he told the Guardian. “I don’t find anything hard to give up, as such, because I know the feeling scoring goals gives me. So, while getting in an ice bath isn’t nice, I just think: ‘You know what? I’m going to do this and be rewarded.’ It’s hard but in another way it’s easy because all I want to do is play well and score goals.”
Tia Blanco, Puerto Rican professional surfer
“I feel really great eating a plant-based diet and love the way it makes me feel physically and mentally,” she said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “Many of us know the effects of diet on one’s health, but fail to realize that diet plays a huge role in more than just your personal well-being.”
Austin Aries, American professional wrestler
“I’m usually concerned with keeping my calories up to maintain my size, though I adjust my calories depending on if I need to bulk up or cut weight,” he told Men’s Journal. “I try to limit my intake of things like soy, gluten, and overly processed foods. The easiest way to do this is by making sure I’m eating a variety of different foods every day. This also ensures I am consuming all different types of plant-based protein to cover the full amino acid profile as well as my vitamins and nutrients.”
JJ Redick, American professional basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers
“During the season, my main focus is staying healthy and feeling strong, he said in an interview with Men’s Journal. “I’ve always had a leaner frame, so balancing my intake of protein, fat, and carbs is an important focus that guides my food choices. I’ve found that incorporating plant-based protein items like Beyond Meat into my diet can deliver just as much protein, if not more, than some traditional meat items, while making me feel healthy, fit, and agile.”
David Carter, American professional football player
“Football is a machismo sport, which is great, but everything can’t be machismo. On the field and at practice, yes, you can be machismo, but when it comes to diet, you need to have compassion for your body,” he told NFL.com in an interview.
Barny du Plessis, British professional body builder and Mr. Universe winner
“I am the best I’ve ever been. I feel fantastic, no aches, pains or niggles. No delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs) after heavy sessions,” du Plessis said in an interview with the Thinking Vegan.” All my workouts are on fire; endurance and energy are awesome, strength and power are as good as I want them to be. I feel really healthy, fit, and buzzing with energy. I feel lighter, and not bloated, but I’m still as heavy as I was when eating meat and animal products. Being leaner on more calories – that’s always a good thing!”