23 Vegan Athletes Who Swear By Their Plant-Based Diets For Performance And Strength

These top 23 vegan athletes prove that you don’t need animal products to compete.

We spent 2 ½ days researching the greatest vegan athletes. We asked our sporty vegan friends who they like best. Of course, opinions varied. So we dug deep and drew our conclusions from the information we eventually gathered. 

Note that some athletes may be plant-based rather than living a vegan lifestyle which expands to clothing, beauty products and avoiding things like zoos. We simply don’t know the ins and outs of everyones daily lives to say for sure. 

But if an athlete is OBVIOUSLY an ethical vegan, we’ve made that clear. 

From soccer players to strongmen, NBA stars to ultra-marathoners, and one very prolific racing champion. Keep reading to discover 23 of the greatest vegan athletes and their motivations for going vegan. 

First up, we have one of the strongest men on the planet… 

Patrik Baboumian (German Strongman)

Baboumian first went vegetarian in 2005. He became vegan in 2011. 

Clearly no stranger to the iron, Patrik won the title of “Strongest Man of Germany” in the 105kg division. He held the world record log-lift as well as the German heavyweight loglift record (180kg).

While talking about going vegan, Baboumian said “I wasn’t convinced it would work. I didn’t think it was possible. I was really shocked at how easy it was.”

“It took discipline” he said. “I had to study every food package, but as an athlete, I was used to doing that.”

“I want people to understand that their decisions are more important than they think, that by trying to better yourself, you can inspire others.”

In 2017, Patrik featured in the documentary “Empathy” which promotes a more respectful way of life towards all animals. 

In 2018, he starred in the Netflix documentary “Game Changers”. The film explores nutritional science and showcases professional plant-based athletes.

Patrik has his own YouTube channel and Instagram where he posts strength and vegan-related content. 

Lewis Hamilton (British F1 star)

Seven-time world champion Hamilton went vegan in 2017. He’s the most successful driver of all time, winning more races than anyone else in history. 

Lewis has often used his 26.8m Instagram following to promote animal rights

The racing champion also co-founded vegan burger chain “Neat Burger” in 2019. Since then, it has expanded to locations all around London and beyond.

In his Instagram post about bulking up, he says “Adding weight was easy and I did this on a vegan diet.” 

Adding “I have plenty of protein in my diet and I’ve gained muscle, and I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been.”

Hamilton says his only regret is that he didn’t go plant-based sooner. 

Tia Blanco (Professional Surfer)

Ranked as one of the top 50 female surfers on the planet, Tia Blanco went vegan in 2013 when she was just 16. She was raised on a vegetarian diet. 

Blanco won the first place gold medal at the International Surfing Association (ISA) Open Women’s Championship in 2015. She then successfully defended the title by winning again in 2016. 

After watching the documentary “Glass Walls” and reading The China Study, Tia made the decision to go vegan. 

“What I found was pretty horrific and informative at the same time. I knew from that point on I was going to switch to a vegan diet.”

“Being an athlete, I think it is really important to fuel yourself with the right foods to perform at your highest level.” she says.

“I feel like a better person.”

Tia posts her recipes on her foodie Instagram, ‘Tia’s Vegan Kitchen’. 

Alex Morgan (Soccer Player)

American professional baller Alex (we couldn’t resist) has been vegan since late 2017. 

She scored 115 goals throughout 190 appearances for the US women’s national soccer team. A two-time World Cup champion and an Olympic gold medalist, Morgan is no stranger to competition. 

Fellow vegan soccer player, Toni Pressley, inspired her to go vegan. 

Alex felt like the animals she was eating were similar to her pet dog, Blue. 

Morgan says she feels ‘amazing’ eating vegan and feels like she has more energy after making the transition, especially on the field. 

She was also crowned Most Beautiful Vegan Celebrity of 2019 by PETA, along with NBA player Kyrie Irving (see below!). 

Seba Johnson (Alpine Ski Racer)

Olympian ski racer Seba was raised as an ethical vegan since birth. 

She was the first black woman to ski at the Olympics and the youngest alpine ski racer in Olympic history.

Seba got disqualified from a World Cup ski race in 1989 for refusing to wear a suit containing wool and leather. We commend her ethics. 

She also chose NOT to compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics despite qualifying. This was in protest of Norway’s decision to resume whaling. 

Seba says “I think it’s a misconception that you have to have animal flesh and animal secretions in order to be strong, healthy and muscular.”.  

John Joseph (Ironman Triathlete)

Long-time vegan, vocalist of hardcore punk band Cro-Mags and notable ironman triathlete, Joseph is a force both on and off the stage. 

John has completed 13 (to date) Ironmans. Each Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile marathon. 

On going vegan, he told GQ “It was really a decision that was firstly for the animals. 

“We’re creating a hell and torturing animals by unnecessarily thinking that they’re our food.”

“If you don’t spend [your time] taking care of yourself and eating properly, your quality of life is gonna go to hell.”

Joseph is also the author of the book “Meat Is for Pussies”. The book covers vegan nutrition, training, and a healthy lifestyle. 

Meagan Duhamel (Pair Skater)

This two-time world champion pair skater has been vegan since 2008. 

Meagan was an Olympic gold medalist in the 2018 team event, a two-time Four Continents Champion and a seven-time Canadian national champion (2012-2018). 

At the 2018 Winter Olympics, she became one of the oldest Olympic champions in figure skating. 

Her switch to veganism was a quick one after reading the diet book ‘Skinny Bitch’ while at the airport. She went vegan overnight. 

Duhamel says “It was essentially done for health purposes and diet purposes. But as time went on, I became a lot more compassionate and interested in animal rights.” 

“I’ve noticed nothing but positive benefits – my energy is higher, I sleep better at night, my skin is better, I feel like my body is in better condition at all times.” 

The skater has also supported animal rights organization Mercy for Animals Canada. 

Austin Aries (Professional Wrestler)

A three-time Impact World Champion, six-time Impact X Division Champion and first multi-time Ring of Honor World Champion. 

Austin has been vegan since 2011 after the documentary ‘Forks Over Knives’ helped him drop any remaining dairy and eggs from his vegetarian diet. 

Aries says “I’ve not shriveled up and died yet of protein deficiency, I’m good, I’m still here feeling good”

“If you really think about all of the protein we get from animals, well, they get it from plants. All of our original protein sources come from plants.” 

The pro wrestler has written a book called “Food Fight” that details his plant-powered journey. He has also appeared in PETA videos, encouraging a vegan lifestyle. 

Hector Bellerin (Professional Footballer)

Bellerin has won 3 FA Cup winners medals. He started his club football career at Barcelona before moving to Arsenal. 

The footballer went plant-based in 2016. It all started when Hector watched the Netflix documentary ‘What The Health’ and started researching veganism. 

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

Adding that “Health is not the only reason I’m vegan. It was the ground zero, but now there are other reasons that push me to do it. The sustainability of the environment and animal cruelty now motivate me just as much as health. The way I feel physically and mentally, knowing I’m doing the right things, makes me really happy to be vegan.”

Hector has since invested in Forest Green Rovers – the world’s first vegan football club. 

Rich Roll (Ultra-endurance athlete) 

Author of books ‘Finding Ultra’ and ‘The Plantpower Way’, Rich Roll is an inspiration for many. 

He was awarded the title of one of the ‘25 Fittest Guys in the World’ in 2009 by Men’s Fitness Magazine. He went vegan in 2006. 

Rich participated in the Ultraman World Championships, which involves a 6.2 mile swim, 171.4 mile cycle and 52.4 mile double-marathon over 3 days. 

On going vegan, Rich says “Within 7-10 days of making that switch, I felt like an entirely different person.” 

The ultra-athlete has various vegan-related videos on his YouTube Channel.  In one video titled “VEGAN ON $25”,  he dispels the common myth that being vegan is expensive. 

Rich’s whole family is now vegan. Impressive! 

Scott Jurek (Ultramarathoner)

Named as one of the greatest runners of all time, Jurek has been vegan since 1999. 

Scott has too many feats to list here, but to give you an idea: He won the Leona Divide 50 Mile Run four times, set the speed record for completing the Appalachian Trial (approx. 2,220 miles), and set a new US record for distance running in 24 hours with 165.7 miles. 

Talking about his journey into veganism, the runner says “I grew up in Northern Minnesota hunting and fishing, and I would have been the last person to become plant-based because of my background.” 

“The biggest benefit [of eating plant-based] as an endurance athlete is the recovery time.”

Jurek is a great example of how your background doesn’t need to define your future actions. 

Kyrie Irving (NBA)

Seven-time NBA All-Star and a three-time member of the All-NBA Team, Kyrie has been one of the top point guards throughout the last decade. 

Irving switched to veganism in 2017 after watching the Netflix documentary ‘What The Health’. 

Before going vegan, Kyrie said “I was noticing that I wasn’t able to recover as fast after games and workouts” 

When asked about his plant-based diet, Irving responded “Last 9 games, haven’t changed any diet, I don’t plan on changing anything in my diet, so it’s been working out for me great so far.” 

Adding “My energy is up, my body feels amazing.”

DeAndre Jordan (NBA)

Jordan holds the NBA record for best career field goal percentage at 0.675 (as of January 2022).

He’s been vegan since 2018. 

On making the switch, he says “Growing up in Texas, it’s a huge barbeque, meat diet really. There was a lot of eyebrows raised and a lot of questions that people had – and that I had as well.” 

“I enjoy the way that it’s made me feel. I’ve been on this journey for like 3 years now, and it’s been great”

See what DeAndre eats in a day in this video with Men’s Health.

Morgan Mitchell (Olympic Sprinter)

Mitchell went vegan in 2014. 

In 2016, she ran her personal best in the 400 meters with a time of 51.25 seconds. She runs 60-70km a week. 

As an ethical vegan, Morgan says “I guess it just came down to the fact that I didn’t want to put my career before anyone’s life. It just doesn’t make sense to me.” We agree completely. 

Adding “A lot of people had issues with me being vegan and an athlete. I decided to educate those that were against the plant-based diet. And I just had to reassure them that I’m definitely getting enough protein and iron required to achieve my goals.”

Fiona Oakes (Marathon Runner)

Quadruple marathon world record holder Fiona has been vegan since she was 6 years old. She’s the fastest woman to run a marathon on both every continent and the north pole. 

“I went vegan at 6 years old, it wasn’t a decision at that age, it was more of a reaction against violence towards those I considered my friends. I didn’t want any part of that. So it was an easy thing for me to do.”

“Mentally, I feel very focused, very able, very motivated.”  

“The longevity, the sustainability, the recovery – it’s all there.” 

Fiona co-founded the ‘Vegan Runners’ club in 2004 which has grown to over 3,100 members as of January 2022. 

She also runs Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary and is an ambassador for The Vegan Society. 

Nick Squires (Powerlifter) 

A 4 time state record holder in powerlifting, Nick has been an ethical vegan since 2014. 

Squires says “There was this one moment when I realized I’m spending my whole day to rescue these dogs. And then I’m going home and I’m eating this animal. What is the actual difference? Not to me as a person, but the difference to that animal?” 

Nick finds that fellow powerlifters are often surprised to find out he’s vegan when they follow him on social media. 

Check out some of his lifts on his Instagram.

Kendrick Farris (Olympic weightlifter)

In 2016, Kendrick broke the U.S record during the Olympic Trials by lifting a total of 831 pounds. That’s 370 pounds for the snatch and 461 pounds for the clean and jerk.  Wow! 

Farris made the decision to go vegan in late 2014, saying that “I don’t think dairy’s part of an Olympic diet.”

“Dealing with cows milk man, that’s for a cow. That’s for a baby cow. Come on man, get to plant milk, it’s easy.”

Adding that “Going for gold shouldn’t leave others behind.”  

We agree 100%. 

Mac Danzig (UFC) 

Winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 6, Danzig has been vegan since 2004. 

He switched to veganism due to his ethical concerns with the treatment of animals. 

“Everyone tells you, if you’re an athlete you need chicken and fish in your diet for protein. That’s just one of the myths that has been perpetuated for a while.” 

“I feel like I have more energy now that I don’t eat the meat products, and I also feel that I recover better between my workouts.” 

Mac appears in the 2011 documentary ‘Forks Over Knives’. 

Chris Smalling (Professional Footballer) 

Smalling played for Manchester United for 10 years. 

He made over 300 appearances for the club, winning 2 Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup, a UEFA Europa League, and a further two Community Shields. 

In 2017, he went vegan after being inspired by his wife. Chris credits veganism for improving his health and reducing his recovery time. 

“I realized how brutal it is to animals, how unnecessary it is to us and how damaging it is to the environment.”

“There’s so many sources for protein – there’s lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh – there’s so many options to be able to switch it up throughout the week that I’m never stuck for choice.” 

Smalling has helped promote animal rights through advertisements with PETA.

Colin Kaepernick (NFL)

This NFL quarterback played six seasons for the San Franciso 49ers. In his first full season as a starter, Kaepernick helped his team reach the NFC Championship Game. 

In 2015, Colin’s girlfriend suggested they switch to a plant-based diet to help his injuries and body recover better. 

From the looks of this tweet 3 years later, it seems like he’s stuck with it. 

He also collaborated with Ben & Jerry’s to launch an exclusive vegan ice cream flavor, appropriately titled ‘Change the Whirled’. 

Heather Mitts (Soccer Defender)

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Heather has been vegan since 2017. 

She played in four matches in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where the U.S. national team finished second. 

On her journey into veganism, Heather says “I went vegan overnight after watching @wthfilm 😳 I was paleo at the time and was so convinced by the portion that covered that way of eating, I woke up unable to stomach meat or dairy. I admit the first week was hard as I didn’t have a plan.”

Adding that “It’s kind of exciting and fun too because you get to try different foods. And it’s not hurting any animals at the same time. I think that’s the most important thing.” 

Brian Turner (Bodybuilder)

This prolific influencer has been vegan since 2015. 

Brian has a vegan food and fitness YouTube channel with over 380k subscribers. He’s the author of ‘Eat Vegan or Die Trying’ and ‘The Vegan Blueprint’ ebooks. 

Turner’s inital reason for going vegan was to cure his acne. It worked, so Brian stuck with it.

He then learnt about the ethical reasons behind veganism and has been vegan ever since.  

Frank Medrano (Calisthenics Expert)

Frank is extremely explosive and has mastered advanced bodyweight exercises like the full front lever and the one-arm pullup. 

In 2011, Medrano made the decision to go vegan. His plant-based diet keeps him strong, lean, and healthy. 

“That’s a question I usually get asked – ‘where do you get your protein’? My answer is always from plants. Spinach, broccoli, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, whole grains.”

He has a YouTube channel with over a million subscribers where he posts fitness videos and what he eats in a day. 

What’s next? 

If plant-powered athletes have inspired you to go vegan, check out our new Vegan Starter Guide. It reveals the single most powerful tip you can use to make the switch almost effortless.

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