World-Class Vegan Footballers You Should Know About

Are there any vegan footballers at the World Cup? Here are the players fuelling their performance with plants.

A football on grass
Image Credit: Unsplash

From weightlifters to marathon runners, we’re seeing more and more athletes adopting plant-based diets to fuel their performance.

In the Netflix documentary The Game Changers, several famous vegan athletes cite benefits such as enhanced performance, increased energy levels and faster recovery times. No protein-deficient vegans here!

Now that the World Cup is upon us, let’s celebrate some of the vegan footballers proving that a plant-powered diet doesn’t make you weak – far from it, in fact! Although they don’t follow a fully vegan lifestyle, we love to see more athletes embracing plant-based meals.

LIONEL MESSI (Argentina)

After failing to win the World Cup with Argentina in 2014, Messi decided to change his diet to help improve his performance.

The renowned footballer recruited the help of Italian nutritionist Giuliano Poser in 2014, who according to sources, advises against excessive meat consumption. “The amount of meat normally eaten by Argentinians and Uruguayans is too much, as it is difficult to digest,” he told the Independent.

Poser prescribed Messi a diet that was abundant in water, good quality olive oil, whole grains, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. Sounds good to us!

Gareth Bale (Wales)

The Welsh player is one of the world’s most successful footballers with an impressive five Champions League titles under his belt. In an interview last year with Tottenham Hotspur’s team nutritionist, Bale mentions his go-to plant nutrition sources.

He eats a plant-powered diet rich in veggies, beans, legumes, and lentils and his favourite pre-game snack is beans on toast!

Serge Gnabry (Germany)

The Bayern Munich winger stated in 2019 that he was trying a plant-based diet. He told BILD, the German newspaper: “At the moment I’m enjoying it, I’m feeling well as well. I had conversations with friends, watched documentaries. I just want to give it a try.”

Serge Gnabry
Image Credit: Rufus46

Although he doesn’t follow a completely vegan lifestyle, it’s great to see more elite athletes being open to eating plants to fuel their performance!

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Brazil)

Back in 2021, this iconic Brazilian footballer sustained a serious injury which resulted in a lifestyle overhaul. As well as changing his training regime and sleep routine, he also switched to a plant-based diet.

Image Credit: Antoine Dellenbach

According to reports, his new diet aided his recovery and his bounce back to fitness. Studies show that a plant-based diet can have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is just one of the reasons why so many athletes are turning to this lifestyle.

İlkay Gündoğan (Germany)

We’re not sure when the Manchester City midfielder first adopted a plant-based diet or why, but we do know some of his vegan favourite dishes thanks to his chef, Jonny Marsh.

Ilkay Gundogan
Image Credit: Michael Kranewitter, Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-sa 4.0

According to Marsh, Gündoğan is a big fan of garlic and a particular vegan burger that he eats once a week. The coveted burger is made with lentils, chickpeas and rice, as well as veggies like red cabbage, garlic and carrot. If you want to eat like an elite footballer, you can recreate the burger using this recipe!

Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium)

Just like his Manchester City teammate, Kevin de Bryune also enjoys eating plant-based dishes, especially chef Jonny Marsh’s creations.

Although it’s unclear whether his plant-based lifestyle is a permanent change, we do know that his favourite dishes include his homemade spinach and ricotta cannelloni and Jonny Marsh’s infamous beetroot pizza. Yum!

If you want to discover the benefits of a plant-based diet for yourself, sign up for our free 31-day challenge. You’ll get a sports meal plan, as well as other resources and tips!

Thinking of trying vegan?

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