7 Times Plant-Based Athletes Triumphed In Sports In 2023

In 2023, vegans have won medals and accolades in sports ranging from jiu-jitsu to duathlon


5 Minutes Read

A group of vegan athletes posing for a photo Vegan athletes have had a successful 2023 - Media Credit: PlantBuilt

There was once a myth that vegans were weak. In recent years, however, there has been growing awareness of the huge athletic potential plant-based diets can give you (thanks largely to high profile vegan athletes and documentary The Game Changers). 

It’s now widely acknowledged that a plant-based diet can have huge benefits for sporting performance. As well as personal anecdotes and scientific research, mountains of trophies and medals are proving that veganism is a recipe for sporting success. In 2023, vegan and plant-based athletes won world championships and ultramarathons without supporting the cruelty of animal agriculture industries. Here are seven of the top achievements by vegans and plant-based eaters in sport in 2023.

Plant-based triumphs in sports in 2023

Whether running hundreds of miles or battling in brutal bare-knuckle fights, these athletes are all powered by plants. Living proof that vegans get enough protein, they are faster, stronger, and more successful on healthy plant-based diets.

Jaqueline Geihe

Vegan athlete Jaqueline Geihe won gold at the European Jiu-Jitsu Championships in October. She fought her way to the Adult blue belt Featherweight (56.5kg) category.

“I feel like it is important to see a vegan athlete winning competitions because even though there are already many amazing famous athletes and Guiness record holders on a plant-based diet, too many people still hold prejudices against individuals following this lifestyle,” Geihe told PBN.

Austin Meyer

In April, vegan ultra-runner Austin Meyer took first place at the Zion Ultra 100km (62 mile) race. This grueling ultramarathon saw athletes race around the Zion National Park in Utah, with only experienced ultra-runners eligible to compete.

After completing the course in just over 10 hours, Meyer told Plant Based News (PBN): “Eating a plant-based whole foods diet has allowed me to increase physical stress in training, and simultaneously, recover faster. This is due in part to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the food, which lead to reduced muscle damage.” 

Trishul Cherns

Vegan athlete and ultramarathon runner Trishul Cherns
Trishul Cherns Cherns in Windsor, Massachusetts earlier this year

In July, a 66-year-old vegan athlete secured first place in a 48-hour ultramarathon in Massachusetts. Trishul Cherns, who ran 142.5 miles (229 kilometers), credited his plant-based diet for his success.

Cherns has broken more than 110 Canadian ultra-running records. In an interview, he told Canadian Running: “My success definitely comes from my diet. I’m a vegan, and that’s an anti-inflammatory diet. I’m trying to prevent inflammation in my body because these are stressful events, so I’m trying to make it as easy as possible.”

Lisa Gawthorne

The year 2023 has been quite a time for vegan athlete Lisa Gawthorne. In March, she won gold at the European Duathlon Championships. Then at the end of April, she brought home another gold medal from the Duathlon World Championships in Ibiza.

Vegan for more than 20 years, Gawthorne competes with “Go Vegan” emblazoned on her clothing. After her European Championship success, Gawthorne told PBN: “It’s my 20th veganniversary so what better way to celebrate that than with a European win to prove that veganism has a very valid place for supporting peak performance in sport, fitness, and athletics.”

Po Denman

In November, vegan fighter Po Denman became Thailand’s straw-weight bare-knuckle boxing champion. Now ranked as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, she credits her plant-based diet as improving her performance and training. 

“Not only did it fuel me for the fight night, but also throughout the training regime,” she is reported as saying. “I feel light and I can train hard. I never measure the exact amount of what I eat but I make sure that in a meal, I just have a variety of food.”

Vegan Strong PlantBuilt team

Team photo of the Vegan Strong PlantBuilt team, which had a successful Mr. America 2023
Vegan Strong PlantBuilt The Vegan Strong PlantBuilt team had a successful Mr. America 2023

After last year’s success, the Vegan Strong PlantBuilt once again stole the show at the 84th Mr. America Sports Festival in Atlantic City. The plant-powered team took home 41 medals, including 32 first-place wins in Powerlifting, Strongman, CrossFit, and Kettlebell.

“Mr. America provided a great opportunity for us to prove that plants have all the protein you need to be strong and healthy and to fuel wins at the highest levels” said Giacomo Marchese, Vegan Strong PlantBuilt co-founder. “We more than doubled our wins from last year, and competitors asked how we were doing it.”

Novak Djokovic

Plant-based athlete Novak Djokovic
Allstar Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo Djokovic has credited his plant-based diet for his success

Plant-based tennis player Novak Djokovic won his 24th major singles title in September. By lifting three of the four majors in 2023 – the Australian Open, French Open and US Open – the 36-year-old equalled Margaret Court’s record.

Djokovic has said that he cut out animal products after suffering from allergies since he was a child. He was listed as an executive producer on The Game Changers.

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