Professional athletes are often looked upon as superheroes, especially those who reach star caliber in their sport. As such, they have the power to project a profound influence on those who follow them.
Maintaining their star quality takes a lot of work; the very livelihood of these elite athletes depends on their consistent performance. So when we see a number of these world class sports figures embracing plant-based diets, they’re serving to validate this lifestyle. Happily, this trend seems to be building as athletes from all walks and ideological backgrounds are proudly, and publicly, adopting a plant-powered diet.
Rob Roll, dubbed one of the fittest men on the planet and author of Finding Ultra, has been quoted as saying, “…I don’t excel athletically despite my plant-based diet but because of it.”
Though many athletes still cling to the meat-based protein approach to performance training, there are plenty of examples of how plant-based nutrition is fueling world class athletes to extraordinary success.
Venus Williams, with seven grand slams and 49 WTA singles titles, faced a daunting set back when diagnosed with an auto-immune condition that threatened to end her career. Instead she made a life-changing decision to adopt a raw, plant-based diet and, at the age of 37 in 2017, had one of the best years of her career, roaring back onto the Wimbledon stage to compete in the finals. Granted there are many factors contributing to her overall success, but it’s hard to argue with the direct impact her change of diet has had in enabling her to compete at this level.
Major League Baseball (MLB) player Carsten Charles “CC” Sabathia, also 37, recently adopted a plant-based diet as a way to stay competitive with younger players. The 6’ 6” 300-pound pitcher for the New York Yankees, is looking to plant-based nutrition as a way of preventing injury and increasing recovery time — which ultimately keeps him on the field and in the game.
NBA Champion and five-time All-Star, Kyrie Irving, moved to a plant-based diet just after his request to be traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers. His reasons? In an interview with ESPN’s Chauncey Billups, Irving says that by, “…getting away from all the animals and all that…my energy is up, my body feels amazing. Just understanding what the diet is like for me and what’s beneficial for me for having the highest energy out here and being able to sustain it at a very high level.”
More and more, elite athletes both young and, well, older are discovering the performance enhancing — and healing — benefits of going plant-based (vegan). There is no doubt that the world is watching. Athletes are great role models. Their choices and actions are directly influencing not only other athletes but also the millions of followers who witness the obvious benefits.
The plant-based (vegan) food movement is taking hold like never before and we expect to continue seeing this reflected throughout the world of sports.
NBA players explain why they are going vegan and vegetarian, Krisitan Winfield, SB Nation
New York Yankees Pitcher CC Sabathia Goes Vegan, Anna Starostinetskaya, VegNews
Plant-Powered Athletes and What They Eat, Alexandra Caspero, Food Network
Can vegans be top sports stars?, Aine Carlin, The Guardian
How Venus Williams roared back at 37: diet, brains and bloody mindedness, Ian McMahan, The Guardian