The vegan lifestyle has become increasingly popular over the last five years with a number of celebrities opting to stick to a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons. A plethora of sports stars have also followed suit, with many of them noticing a considerable upturn in performance since making the switch.
— BBC (@BBC) November 1, 2016
Benefits of Veganism in Sport
Fewer saturated fats have been credited with improving blood flow and this enables oxygen to reach the muscles much quicker. This is particularly handy for those athletes who regularly compete in endurance events. The vegan lifestyle has also been credited with faster recovery times, which can help prolong careers and keep sports stars at the top of their game for longer periods.
It also helps prevent chronic diseases which can prematurely end careers. Some sports stars turn to painkillers in order to mask such problems, however, a high intake of antioxidants is believed to help alleviate such problems. Overall body fat can also be reduced with the VO2 max being increased. This allows performers to use oxygen much more efficiently and hugely benefits the fat-burning process.
Vegan Sports Stars
Tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams were early adopters of the vegan diet. Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam champion made the switch after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011 on the advice of doctors. Cutting out meat and dairy enabled her to continue playing at the highest level, and prevented issues such as shortness of breath and fatigue, which had begun to plague the California-born star from the age of 24. Novak Djokovic is another tennis player who claims that going vegan has enabled him to remain competitive, and the Serbian superstar told reporters that the plant-based diet is a major reason behind his ability to bounce back from injuries.
— Vegan Future (@veganfuture) June 11, 2016
Many footballers have also become more aware of diet and nutrition over the last five years with Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin becoming one of the first Premier League players to promote veganism. His former team-mate Serge Gnabry has also spoken positively about the effect it has had on his well-being. The 24-year old made the switch in March 2019, and it coincided with an upturn in form, with the winger netting seven times for Bayern Munich during the second half of the campaign. He’s also found the net twice already this season whilst on International duty, and he is likely to play an integral part in helping his club secure an eighth successive title this year. Although they face stiff competition from Borussia Dortmund once again, Bayern have been priced up as the 1/4 favourites in the Bundesliga betting markets to retain their crown.
It isn’t just restricted to mainstream sports with Ireland’s Becky Lynch, a WWE regular also choosing to follow the vegan lifestyle, whilst American ultra-marathon runner Scott Jurek also made the transition many years ago.
There are many benefits to going vegan, and a number of elite performers have certainly seen their performance levels improve since overhauling their diet. Many more sports stars have since followed suit, and clubs such as Forest Green Rovers do not serve any meat or dairy to their players or fans. It is an upwardly mobile trend, showing very few signs of slowing down, and the majority of vegan athletes have spoken of a considerable difference since making the change.