the five fittest vegans in professional sportsAlthough it’s widely believed that meat is essential to achieving peak physical performance, these athletes have become herbivores and are still managing to smash it on a vegan diet
Professional athletes are increasingly ditching animal products to sustain their time at the top level and turning vegan. One recent convert is Sunderland and England striker Jermain Defoe, who claims to be even more prolific than before he switched to plants. It’s hard to argue with him, either. Despite being 34, he’s been prolific for bottom-of-the-table Sunderland and he recently returned to the England squad for the first time in four years.
Defoe isn’t alone when it comes to professional sports star who have waved goodbye to meat. Here’s five more athletes who put their success down to their vegan lifestyles:
- Carl Lewis
- David Haye
- Mac Danzig
- Timo Hildebrand
- Patrik Baboumian
With nine Olympic gold medals and several world records to his name, Carl Lewis is one of the most successful athletes in sports history. He puts down his greatest achievements – including personal bests of 9.86 seconds in the 100 metres and 8.87 metres in the long jump – to his consistently plant-based diet.
In a 2014 interview with The Independent, former boxing champion David Haye revealed he was abandoning animal products, after watching a documentary about meat production on TV. “I did some research to make sure I could still obtain enough protein to fight and, once satisfied that I could, I stopped. I’ll never go back,” he said.
Former mixed martial arts fighter Mac Danzig has adhered to a strict vegan diet since 2004 for ethical reasons. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a profound respect and interest in nature and animals,” said the American. “In 2004, I got to the point where I was sick of eating chicken. It started grossing me out for some reason. I was about a month out from a fight and I decided I was going to cut out all meat. I was working with a trainer who was vegan and he helped me make the switch. I won that fight and went on a 12-fight winning streak.”
Former German international Timo Hildebrand was goalkeeper when VFB Stuttgart won the Bundesliga back in 2007. He puts down his career success to his strict vegan diet. Now retired, Hildebrand campaigns on behalf of the world’s largest animal rights organisation PETA, and since March 2014 he has been a brand ambassador and partner of Veganz, a European vegan supermarket chain.
Patrik Baboumian is an Iranian-born German strongman competitor and former bodybuilder, winning the title of Germany’s Strongest Man in 2011. He also turned vegan that year, having been vegetarian since 2005. Shunning milk, meat and other animal products hasn’t affected his ability to lift weights: he bench presses at 215 kg and deadlifts at 360 kg.