Vegan Athletes: How Good is a Plant-Based Diet [Reality-Check]

Benefits of Vegan Diet for Athletes

Vegan Athletes: How Good is a Plant-Based Diet [Reality-Check]

“Veganism has garnered a lot of attention lately and is a lifestyle in and of itself. More interesting, though, is the pace at which a vegan lifestyle is becoming mainstream for athletes. This does pose the question – are there any substantial benefits of vegan diet for athletes, after all?”

I am here to make my country proud, the words of every athlete.

No doubt, being an athlete demands great physical strength, speed, and endurance.

This obviously puts them in a position to follow a diet that’s cut out to meet their biological needs.

Well, going vegan is an emerging trend among these champs.

Some of the Vegan Athletes Include:

  • Venus Williams — Tennis Lewis Hamilton — Formula 1
  • Colin Kaepernick — Football
  • Kyrie Irving — Basketball
  • Scott Jurek — Ultramarathon
  • David Haye — Boxing

Some athletes may choose to follow a vegan diet for ethical, environmental, or health reasons.

Many other celebrities too are becoming vegan these days and they feel healthy.

Benefits of a Vegan Diet for Athletes show it to be filled with superfoods actually. Veganism is thriving in the sports community.

From current sporting success back to ancient times, it is evident that vegans can win races up to professional levels and even break records.

Is that true?

Why More Athletes are Going Vegan, and is a vegan diet plan enough for an athlete’s nutritional needs?

Today, we explore this subject through a series of most asked Q&As.

So, let’s get down to business and explore if there are real benefits of vegan diet for athletes.


#1. Why are So Many Athletes Going Vegan?

Athletes believe plant-based diets to have the ability to increase performance in a variety of areas, including sports.

Here are some of the key reasons why a Plant Based Diet for Strength Athletes is favored now more than ever.

Sports Drinks and Supplements are Becoming Plant-Based

The Lumina Intelligence report shows Sweden, France, Germany, and the USA in the lead in terms of plant-based protein powder uptake.

There is an increase in the availability of plant-based, performance-enhancing supplements that have made it easier and more appealing for athletes to follow a plant-based lifestyle.

The sector is growing and is fiercely competitive.

Vegan sports nutrition is also available in the form of pre-prepared meals and nutritional programs.

Tom Brady and Purple Carrot in 2016 initiated a vegan meal delivery service to create a meatless, dairy-free TB12 performance meal plan. 

This justifies the increasing gap between Vegan Athletes vs Meat Eating Athletes

Popular Names Advocate for a Vegan Diet

Plant-based diets have so far shown to be superb for athletes. A number of popular athletes back the benefits of vegan diet for athletes with their personal progress.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, an actor, politician, and former bodybuilder produced the Netflix documentary “The Game Changers” in which athletes give knowledge about ‘how a vegan diet improves athletic performance’.

Venus Williams diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder causing joint and muscle pain, advised to consume a plant-based diet.

Williams acknowledges that her new diet was life-changing, allowing her to return to tennis.

“I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me,” she said.

Such athletes are progressively adopting a plant-based diet for overall health benefits, including improved performance and enhanced recovery.

Many more athletes are going vegan. The list goes on.

Barny du Plessis, the world’s first vegan bodybuilder and Mr. Universe 2014, commented:

“These days I train half as much, do half as much but get better results. Why? Only one answer, going vegan, GMO-free, and organic. My body is running perfectly.”


#2. Is a Vegan Diet Good for Athletes?

One of the Most Highlighted Benefits of Vegan Diet for Athletes – Going Vegan is Good for the Heart

A review on ‘Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports,’ reveals a vegan diet can reduce the cardiovascular risks faced by athletes, such as atherosclerosis (plaque building up inside arteries) and myocardial damage (decreased blood flow to the heart).

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (P.C.R.M) has also indicated that a vegan diet can boost athletic performance due to enhanced cardiovascular health, reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight loss.

Moreover, plant-based diets are more helpful for recovery as well.

Plant’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to shorten recovery times, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, lessen joint pain, and enable faster healing from injuries.

Patrik Baboumian, “one of the strongest men in the world” and former bodybuilder, credited his bodybuilding and fitness to a vegan diet.

“My recovery time was so much faster I could train more,” he said in a statement.

Plant-based diets also improve blood viscosity, which helps to efficiently deliver oxygen around the body, promoting healing.

All of these factors lead to a valuable career. With these arguments in place, the benefits of vegan diet for athletes become indisputable almost.


#3. Do Vegans Have More Stamina?

Flesh eaters, pay attention!

Studies and research throughout the world reveal that a plant-based diet is more powerful and offers more stamina than an animal-based diet!

Danish Study

Researchers in 1986 analyzed a group of men on a variety of diets. They used a stationary bicycle to measure their strength and performance.

The men ate a mixed diet of meat and vegetables for a while, and then they were tested on the bicycle.

They averaged 114 minutes of pedaling before muscle failure.

After that, they ate a diet high in meat, milk, and eggs for a similar length of time. Post that, there was a re-test on the bicycles.

The results showed their pedaling time before muscle failure to have dropped to an average of 57 minutes.

Now, here’s the juicy part…

Later, these men shifted to a strictly vegetarian diet with only grains, vegetables, and fruits after which they were again tested on the bicycle.

The results were the best in all the groups. They peddled for an average of 167 minutes.

Avoiding animal products also improved their performance. Surprised?

Well, this shows a Vegan Diet and Endurance often go hand in hand.

Many earlier studies and researches also found positive results for plant-eaters.

In other words, a number of benefits of vegan diet for athletes are substantiated by science.


#4. What Vegan Athletes Eat in a Day?

Veganism is, very often, linked to being boring and tasteless.

Vegan athletes don’t consume meat, eggs, and dairy products. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t enjoying their eatables. 

In fact, many vegans are quite creative with their meal preparations.

This is how vegan athletes meet their nutrition needs each day:

Fruits and Vegetables

All kinds of fruits and vegetables are allowed for vegans.

More than consuming traditional fruits like apples and bananas, vegan athletes are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables like kale, collard greens, goji berries, pomegranate, mulberries, and other superfoods.

Meat Substitutes

There are so many meat substitutes that taste like or even better than the real thing!

Lots of brands work for different people. For many athletes, it’s a matter of trying them out until they find the one that they like the best.

With more people steering towards veganism, substitutes for popular meats like chicken are easily available.

Plant eaters can easily find meatless meatballs, fish, turkey slices, and sausages.

Tofu, Seitan and Tempeh

A mouth-watering recipe for lunch or dinner options is tofu, seitan, and tempeh.

Tofu is made from soybeans and seitan comes from wheat gluten. Whereas, tempeh is derived from fermented soy.

You can choose to cook it plain or marinate it in a sauce to add the flavor and texture of your choice.

Moreover, these can also be added to stir fry, salads, and many other meals.

Beans and Lentils

Beans and lentils are very useful and beneficial for health.

Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and green lentils are very popular among athletes living a vegan lifestyle.


Some grains like whole wheat, rye, oats, brown rice, millet, and quinoa are tremendously popular among vegans.

Quinoa is a high source of protein and contains all nine of the essential amino acids that are necessary for human functions.

Fresh juice and Smoothies

Need refreshment with a power-packed dose of health benefits?

Yes, vegan athletes have more than one option in this department!

Adding vegan protein powder to a juice or smoothie is a great way to get the daily dose of energy.


#5. Do Vegan Athletes Get Enough Protein?

Vegan Diet

There was a time when athletes believed that the only way to meet their daily protein requirement was via meat consumption.

But with increased awareness around nutrition, this has changed.

Many plant-based diets are protein-rich.

Game-Changing Data
According to a study in 2019, delivered in the journal Nutrients, athletes following a Vegan diet with added B-12 supplementation have marginally higher nutrient adequacy than athletes who were meat-eaters.

15g of protein per serving, black beans, for example, has more protein than a chicken drumstick. One cup of lentils has 18g more protein than a hamburger.

The need for other nutrients, such as calcium, iron, and vitamin B-12, can be met via plant-based sources. Edamame provides 27.6 percent of the daily requirement of calcium.

One cup of fortified orange juice meets one half of the daily calcium requirement. Spinach carries more than twice the amount of iron than meat.

As for B-12, athletes often go for fortified foods to ensure good health and avoid deficiency.


#6. What Do Vegan Athletes Eat for Protein?

A variety of foods, such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and soy products are rich vegan sources of protein.

Plants based supplements are also available for protein. Here are some of the popular food choices as a part of the Vegan Workout Diet for athletes:

  • Legumes (beans, peas), ½ cup – 7 grams of protein
  • Tofu, 1 cup – 20 grams of protein
  • Edamame, ½ cup – 8 grams of protein
  • Tempeh, ½ cup – 15 grams of protein
  • Rice, ½ cup  – 2-3 grams of protein
  • Quinoa, ½ cup – 4 grams of protein
  • Most nut butter, 2 TBSP – 8 grams of protein
  • Hemp seeds, 2 TBSP – 7 grams of protein
  • Steel-cut oats, ½ cup – 4 grams of protein
  • Nuts, 2 TBSP – 7 grams of protein


#7. How Do Vegans Get B12?

The only decent vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with the vitamin.

These may include some plant milk, soy products, and breakfast cereals. Plus, B12 supplements are also readily in use.

Vitamin B12, whether in supplements, fortified foods, or animal products, comes from microorganisms.

The Institute of Medicine, US recommended that vegans using adequate amounts of fortified foods or B12 supplements are much less likely to suffer from B12 deficiency than the typical meat eater.


#8. How Do Vegans Gain Muscle?

Generally, a diet that is rich in protein helps in gaining muscle.

Vegans take it easy as they have many ingredients to nourish their muscles.

Foods such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and soy products are rich sources of protein and help in gaining muscle.

Many other plant-based protein supplements are available to help nourish muscles.

Having said that, going to the gym also determines muscle development from a vegan diet for athletes.


Conclusive Roundup

Studies and research credit a number of health benefits for the popularity of a vegan diet. Pro-athletes are adopting a vegan diet to keep themselves fit.

So, at this time, we cannot really discard the numerous Vegan Diet Benefits for Athletes.

In comparison to flesh-eaters, it’s highly remarkable how athletes have succeeded in maintaining great health and endurance.

Henceforth, the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet seem uncountable.

Plus, vegan athletes themselves feel enthusiastic about being vegan. According to them, it offers more health benefits and a competitive edge to them than any other diet they’ve ever tried.

Going by the studies, we couldn’t disagree as to the benefits of vegan diet for athletes. However, if you’re a meat-eater wanting to make the switch, consider that we all are different.

Making gradual changes towards veganism would be far better than making sudden lifestyle modifications.

Many sports personalities are adopting vegan diets and inspiring their surroundings towards a more holistic way of living. At the end of the day, if it works for you, then it’s what you should be doing.

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At Horizon Clinics, we help you decode the solutions to your micro-health battles. Our in-depth and practical guides cover everything from diet plans, weight loss, workouts, and bodybuilding to issues of mental health.

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