Now more than ever, athletes are reaching for lentils, edamame, and chickpeas instead of biting into steak dinner, to raise their strength, fitness, and overall performance levels. Here are twenty athletes who credit switching to a vegan or plant-based diet with improving their fitness and results– through faster recovery time between workouts, quicker healing from injury, and being able to build leaner, stronger muscles. These superstars say that their diets helped them get to where they are today, such as preparing for Olympic Gold or becoming the number one tennis player in the world.
These champion players report that eating a plant-based diet increases energy levels, provides more than enough clean protein to refuel and rebuild, reduces inflammation, and improves recovery time. Eating plant-based also helps them with mental clarity, and even abates allergy symptoms like asthma during the most intense allergy season.
In the nearly one year since The Game Changers was released last September and became one of the most-watched documentaries, and showed that some of the world’s strongest and accomplished athletes don’t need meat or dairy to succeed, more and more players are limiting their animal protein intake and are going all or mostly plant-based.
1. Novak Djokovic: Number one tennis champion in the world
The number one tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, went plant-based more than twelve years ago to enhance his athletic performance and win more matches. In recent interviews, he has credited going vegan with helping him rise from third place in the world to first in the world because it helped clear his allergies. Before changing his diet, Djokovic had searched for cures to the breathing issues that cost him matches and focus which caused him to struggled during his most intense matches. The allergies used to make him feel like he couldn’t breathe and would be forced to retire from competitive matches as he did in Australia.
“Eating meat was hard on my digestion and that took a lot of essential energy that I need for my focus, for recovery, for the next training session, and for the next match,” he said. Djokovic emphasized he does not eat foods that require a lot of digestion, especially in the morning, when he needs all of his energy for training. Instead, he starts the day with hot water and lemon, then celery juice, and some superfood supplements.
2. Tia Blanco: Professional Surfer and Beyond Meat Ambassador
Tia Blanco won gold at the International Surfing Association Open in 2015 and credits her success to her vegan diet. Blanco reports that a vegan diet helps her stay strong and she enjoys eating different forms of vegan protein like nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.
The professional surfer was influenced by her mother, who is a vegetarian and grew up in a veggie-forward household, Blanco has never eaten meat in her life, which made the plant-based switch much easier. And speaking of making things…