Plant-based diets have been hogging the spotlight recently, as more people learn about the health, environmental, and ethical benefits of ditching animal products.
Driving some of the growing interest in herbivorous diets is the success of some world-class athletes, who are performing at the highest levels of their discipline – while eschewing animal foods.
Here we have picked just five – though many, many others are showing that it’s possible to thrive on plant-power.
1. Lewis Hamilton
As a six-time Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton is considered by many to be one of the greatest drivers of all time – with some saying he is the greatest.
Hamilton, who adopted a plant-based diet back in September 2017, has often spoken out about how good he feels on the regime, previously describing his decision to ditch animal products as one of the best he’s made.
“I feel the best I’ve ever felt physically and mentally,” he said after going vegan. All year I’ve felt very strong mentally, but I think physically I’m now taking also a big step and that’s really the decision I made to change my diet.”
2. Venus Williams
Venus Williams is one of the all-time tennis greats – with seven Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam doubles titles, and four Olympic gold medals under her belt.
This incredible athlete swapped to a raw plant-based diet in 2011 in a bid to control Sjögren’s syndrome – a condition that causes extreme fatigue and joint pain, among other symptoms.
She has described the diet as the ‘right thing for me’, saying: “Once I started [the diet], I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible. Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.”
3. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic confirmed his plant-based status during this year’s Wimbledon tournament – which he won after a grueling five-set match against Roger Federer.
Speaking at a post-match conference during the event, he crediting the diet his faster recovery times – and also explained why he doesn’t like to be called vegan.
“I don’t like the labels, to be honest,” he said. “I do eat plant-based (food), for quite a few years already,” he said. “But because of the misinterpretations of labels and misuse of labels, I just don’t like that kind of name.
“I do eat plant-based. I think that’s one of the reasons why I recover well. I don’t have allergies that I used to have any more. And I like it.”
4. Tia Blanco
Surfer Tia Blanco went vegan in 2013, inspired by a love for animals and the environment.
Since then, she has performed at the highest level, scooping the Open Women’s World Surfing Championship in 2015 and 2016. She has also won first place Gold medal at the International Surfing Association (ISA)
In a 2017 interview with Men’s Journal, Blanco revealed she relies largely on whole foods to get in top shape for competition.
“I feel healthier on a clean, whole foods diet that is very simple – especially during competition,” she said. “And since a plant-based diet is less calorically dense than other diets, I need to make sure I’m eating enough food, so I up my portions a lot.
“I think of veggies as nutrition and water, not a food where I can get energy, so I don’t even count veggies when I’m counting calories and nutrition. For energy, I go to potatoes, whole grains, and starchy veggies. I’m obsessed with carrots and sweet potatoes.”
5. Massimo Brunaccioni
Italian natural bodybuilder Massimo Brunaccioni recently scooped a major bodybuilding title – proving that it is possible to build muscle on a plant-based diet.
The personal trainer and nutritional coach was crowned Men’s Physique World Champion WNBF 2019 at the recent Natural World Bodybuilding Championship in New York.
Speaking to Plant Based News about the victory, Brunaccioni said he was ‘proud and honored’ to have shown people that it is possible to perform at the highest level, on a plant-based diet in a discipline where people often believe eating animal products is necessary.
“All those who have decided to stop eating animals can, from today, do it with even more serenity and security and with the certainty that their path of peace and non-violence is truly possible and desirable, for their own health, for animals, and of all humanity,” he added.