Elite vegan athletes – what made them change their lifestyle

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There is no doubt about it, veganism is huge in the modern world.

Meat-imitating vegan products have infiltrated almost all major supermarkets across the globe and have changed the way people lead their lives.

Elite athletes aren’t immune from the trend, despite prevailing wisdom suggesting much of the protein sports starts need to stay in peak physical condition should come from animal products.

Here, we look at 10 superstars who have adopted a plant-based diet and why they made the significant change to their lifestyles.

Lewis Hamilton - Formula 1

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is one of the sport’s most prominent vegans, having adopted the lifestyle in 2017.

He is so committed to veganism that he even helped launch a vegan fast food restaurant, Neat Burger, which will exist across the UK next year.

Speaking to BBC earlier this year regarding his decision to go vegan, Hamilton said, per inews.co.uk: “As the human race, what we are doing to the world...the pollution coming from the amount of cows that are being produced is incredible.

“They say it is more than what we produce with our flights and our cars, which is kind of crazy to think.

“The cruelty is horrible and I don’t want to support that.”

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

Venus Williams - Tennis

Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams has been vegan since 2011, switching to purely raw foods after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome.

Doctors told her cutting out meat and dairy could help her with some of the symptoms, which include fatigue and joint pain.

Serena Williams - Tennis

Sisterly love knows no bounds. In solidarity with Venus, her younger sister Serena adopted the same diet.

Now, Serena has eclipsed her sister’s accomplishments and has won a staggering 23 Grand Slam events, putting her just one title away from equaling the all-time record set by Margaret Court.

Tom Brady - NFL

The New England Patriots GOAT has long been famous for the strict vegan diet he swears by to keep his body in prime condition.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots

At 42, Brady is still one of the very best quarterbacks in the NFL, and his lifestyle is catching on amongst other superstars in the league. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) and Derrick Morgan (Tennessee Titans) have recently converted after seeing the prolonged success of Brady….and of course his six Super Bowl rings.

David Haye - Boxing

If there’s one person to dispel the myth that vegans are weak and weedy, it’s 102kg former heavyweight champion boxer David Haye.

When asked about his vegan diet, Haye responded, per inews.co.uk: “Apes are 20 times stronger than humans and they don’t rely on a meat-based diet.

“They eat plants all day long, it’s a myth that you need meat for strength.”

Hector Bellerin - Football

Inspired by Haye, Spanish international and Arsenal wing-back Hector Bellerin made the switch in 2017.

The 24-year-old announced in a Veganuary video last year, per inews.co.uk: “I realised that there were athletes out there that were not just vegetarian, but actually vegan.

Arsenal FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League

“So I started researching and found out that a vegan diet wasn’t just suitable for me, it was actually better for my body. So I switched.”

Nick Diaz - UFC

The Diaz brothers are UFC royalty, and are also both vegan. Nick made the change as a teenager and eventually got his younger brother Nate to join him.

“I try to eat raw vegan. I’ve been doing that since I was 15, 16 years old, so I’m used to it. It definitely helps me not feel like s***, you know, and I got to train all week long,” Nick said, per euronews.com

Nate Diaz - UFC

Nate, who has been vegan since he was 18, says that the plant-based diet has a lot to do with his UFC success.

“People are jumping on slowly but surely, but I think it’s cool. I think you’re a smarter and more intelligent fighter.

“Me and my brother are at the top of the game and have been for a long time. We’re obviously doing something right.

UFC 241 Cormier v Miocic 2

“Besides knowing how to kick somebody in the head, you should know how to feel good tomorrow,” Nate said.

Peter Siddle - Cricket

Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle is one of many cricketing superstars to go vegan, and claims to eat up to 20 bananas per day.

“It is working. I am feeling fit and strong. It can vary anything between 15-20 bananas a day,” he told The Telegraph.

“Obviously it is a fruit-based diet and a lot of vegetables. It keeps me healthy, it keeps me strong and that is what is working at the moment.”

Barny du Plessis - Bodybuilder

Former Mr. Universe winner Barny du Plessis went vegan after coping with a number of health issues.

In an interview with PETA, he said: “Since becoming a vegan my training has been amazing. I wake up feeling good, I’ve got more energy, my recovery’s really good and I’ve got no aches and pains.

“Best of all, I’m not contributing to the suffering of animals.”

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