Of course not! This myth comes from people who confuse nutrients with items of food. Yes, we need protein but there are plant sources; and of course we need iron but … you guessed it, we can get it from plants. A vegan diet suits athletes across all disciplines, and many world class competitors credit their achievements to their plant-based diet.
Top class footballers Jermain Defoe and Russell Martin are vegan, as is heavyweight boxer David Haye. World champion tennis player Novak Djokovic is so taken with plant-based foods that he opened his own vegan restaurant, while champions Serena and Venus Williams also eat plant-based.
As for runners, you’d be hard-pressed to keep pace with Scott Jurek, Rich Roll and Fiona Oakes. Scott has won the Western States 100-mile endurance race no less than seven times. He won the Millwok 100k three times, the 246k Spartathon race twice, the Leona Divide 50-mile race four times. He has set ten ultramarathon records. Rich competes in the world’s top tier of Iron Man events and pushed his body beyond extremes when he completed five ironman-distance triathlons in under a week. His story is made all the more astonishing as he only started to train at the age of 40, when he also adopted a plant-based diet. Fiona is a marathon runner who holds three world records, has come in the top 10 in several international marathons and in the top 20 in both the major races of London and Berlin. And all this while she runs an animal sanctuary. Oh, and remember Carl Lewis? Yep – he was vegan too.
Professional American footballers, Griff Whalen and David Carter are vegan. David is known as the 300-lb vegan and eats 10,000 calories a day to maintain his extraordinary fitness regime. If you think eating vegan will make you weak, think again. Patrick Baboumian is an Iranian-born German strongman (Germany’s Strongest Man) who has set four world records in various strength disciplines and can bench press 463 lbs and deadlift 794 lbs. He says: ‘My strength needs no victims.’ And he’s not alone. There are many more strength athletes who are vegan, including Olympian weightlifter Kendrick Farris.
Do you like a little more contact in your sport but worry that going vegan will somehow make you soft? I dare you to put that proposition to mixed martial art champion Mac Danzig, European Jiu Jitsu champion Emilia Tuukkanen and Austrian champion boxer Melanie Fraunschiel. All 100% vegan; all 100% badass.
World Champion figure skater Meagan Duhamel, international rugby player and cyclist Johanna Jahnke and England footballer Jermain Defoe are vegan, too, showing that no matter what your sport is, you can thrive, take titles and smash records on a vegan diet.