The world of professional sports is slowly waking up to the potential of plant-based diets. More and more athletes are smashing goals and breaking records as they ditch meat and embrace a cruelty-free lifestyle. The age-old belief that strength comes from consuming red meat is one that still pervades the sporting arena, but recent years have seen athletes debunking this myth with their vegan diets. In honor of #BlackLivesMatters, We've rounded up a bunch of world-class athletes using plants' power to give them an edge on the court, field, or in the boxing ring.
Venus Williams holds seven Grand Slam singles titles and 14 Grand Slam Women's doubles titles, showcasing how it's possible to thrive on a vegan diet. Adopting a vegan diet in 2011 after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Wiliams told Health Magazine, "Once I started, 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." Managed her disease through a Raw Vegan Diet, just one year after diagnosis she jumped from outside the top 100 to finish the year at no. 24, Who says plants can't heal? That being said, In an interview with Business Insider, she said she is no longer follows a strict raw vegan diet. "That way of eating was just hard to maintain for long periods of time," Williams said. "Sometimes, you just need something more substantial — some rice, some potatoes — after a workout."
In support of her sister, Serena joined in on her plant-based journey, and she has never looked back. In an article published on Hungry Forever, Serena Williams said: "I think it's really good to clean out your system sometimes to get rid of all the waste and things like that that are just in your system and let the earth from the plants really clean you out. So I'm a big believer in that."
Also dominating his sport is David Haye. The British boxer holds world titles in two weight categories - in 2008, he won three of the four major boxing world titles in his weight class. After a severe shoulder injury, Hayes turned to veganism to aid his recovery. He told The Sun in 2017 that "it's a myth that you need meat for strength." It's a sentiment that he proves with his physical presence.
American Olympic weightlifter gave up meat and animal products after his second son's birth, and the Olympian hasn't looked back. Finishing 11th in his weight class at the 2012 Rio Olympic Games, Farris informed Men's Fitness that veganism "can taste amazing and be better for your body - it'll help with recovery, reduce stress and inflammation in the body." If a weightlifter can dominate on a vegan diet, it's clear that meat isn't a prerequisite to incredible physical strength.
Earned a total of 10 Olympic medals over his career, Carl Lewis adopted a vegan diet to prepare for the World Championships back in 1991, Carl says, "I've found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete. My best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet. Moreover, by continuing to eat a vegan diet, my weight is under control, I like the way I look. (I know that sounds vain, but all of us want to like the way we look.) I enjoy eating more, and I feel great." He wasn't the only one who adhered to that opinion. Track & Field magazine commented, "It had become hard to argue that he is not the greatest athlete ever to set foot on track or field after seeing the results of his race." He won ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year in 1991 as a result.
Lewis is a British Formula One racing driver and four-time Formula One World Champion. In 2008, he won his first F1 world driver's championship, becoming the first black driver to earn that title. Thriving on a plant-based lifestyle for almost three years, he believed this had impacted his performance. "I feel the best I've ever felt physically and mentally," Lewis said after winning the 2017 U.S. Grand Prix.
Lewis also uses his social media platforms to raise awareness about the cruelty of farmed animals. In one of his Instagram posts, he wrote, "We all have a voice, I have this platform and so to not use it correctly would be wrong of me. Nobody is perfect, I certainly am not but this is actually happening every day to so many animals worldwide. This is why I have decided to go to a vegan plant-based diet, been over a year now. Yes, it's hard, nothings ever easy, but I've felt the best I've ever felt for the past year."
The increase of professional athletes adopting and thriving on plant-based diets is promising for the vegan movement. As it becomes clear that the world's top athletes are smashing goals on their cruelty-free diets, a massive group of vegan-curious people is likely going to take the plant-powered plunge and align themselves with veganism for life.