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5 Famous Vegan Athletes

In the minds of many people, being an athlete just inherently means being a voracious carnivore. The truth, though, is that many successful athletes have converted to vegan – or at least vegetarian diets. While some, like Mike Tyson, made the switch after retiring, others are still competing – now fueled entire by plant-based foods. Considering the impressive career of some famous vegan athletes shows the potential of this diet to support athletic performance. Here’s a few.

  • Mac Danzig – This accomplished Mix Martial Arts (MMA) fighter began competing in 2001 and became a full-fledged vegan in 2004, in spite of some pretty harsh criticism. As you can imagine, veganism is extremely unusual in the MMA community. Although he has since retired, Danzig maintains his vegan lifestyle listing brown rice, portobello mushrooms, tempeh, quinoa, black beans and lentils, seitan, nuts, and seeds as some of his staple foods. Mac was also featured in the documentary Forks Over Knives, discussing the benefits of veganism.
  • Venus Williams – Since being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011, Williams has been living and competing on a vegan diet. As one of the most successful and well-known tennis players in the sport, Venus has continued to perform well since making the switch. In fact, Williams claims her diet has led to improvements in her performance and her general health, while helping her manage her symptoms. Out of support, her sister Serena also made the change around the same time.
  • Carl Lewis – Famed track and field athletes, Carl Lewis switched to veganism in 1991 and credits the change with his most impressive achievements. During his career, Lewis took 10 Olympic medals and 10 World Championship medals – many of which were won while he was practicing veganism. Since changing his eating patterns, Carl has been extremely outspoken about the benefits of both vegetarianism and veganism – writing “I’ve found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete” in the introduction to Jannequin Bennet’s book Very Vegetarian.
  • Korin Sutton – It’s especially unusual for bodybuilders to make the decision to be vegans but, in 2011, Korin Sutton did exactly that. After learning more about the treatment of animals raised for human consumption, Sutton began to make a gradual transition that first saw his become a pescatarian for about two year before going full vegan. Contrary to what you might expect, Korin has continued to do well in competition since making the change and even claims that his strength, power, speed and muscular development have all improved greatly since becoming a vegan.
  • Timothy Bradley – An established and respected boxer – fighting in the light welterweight and welterweight classes – Bradley has been using veganism as part of his training since 2008. After using the diet to help him prepare for a fight again Junior Witter and winning the fight with a knockout in the 6th round, Timothy felt confident in the diet. Although, it should be noted that he has gone on and off veganism throughout his carrier. Still, Bradley feels faster and healthier when he is sticking to his vegan routine.

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