5 Elite Sport Stars Who Are Vegan

vegan athletes - Thrive Nutrition and Health Magazine

Making the switch to a vegan diet carries many health benefits, ranging from weight loss to seeing a drop in blood pressure. This is why vegan GP Josh Cullimore recommends adopting the diet. He explains that contrary to popular belief, a wholefood plant-based diet is more than enough to get necessary nutrients such as B12, protein and iron.

Additionally, there are numerous sports stars who perform at the highest level while adhering to the diet. The list below shows just a few of examples of athletes from the UK and around the world who have either turned vegan or have followed the diet their entire lives.

Jermaine Defoe

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Despite being 36-years-old, the Rangers striker has maintained his edge and even played a role in England’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Men’s Health states that he has credited this to his vegan diet, mentioning that the choice was an easy one. “I don’t find anything hard to give up, as such, because I know the feeling scoring goals gives me,” the player said. “In terms of fitness and fatigue towards the end of games, I still feel good.” Since being convinced by his girlfriend to make the lifestyle change, Defoe has managed to extend his career well past the time that most players retire.


Lewis Hamilton

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F1 racing is a physically demanding sport and its athletes have to be at the peak of fitness all year round. One of the world’s most-well known vegan superstars is none other than five-time Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. Coral’s post on successful vegan athletes documents how Hamilton turned vegan in 2017 at the age of 33. Hamilton showed how it is possible to bulk up on a vegan diet after the weight rules for F1 drivers changed and “he went from a maintaining weight of 68kg to weighing 75kg”. Since he made the switch, Hamilton won his fifth world title, even setting a new record for the most points scored in a season (408). A good example of how a vegan diet can improve an athlete’s performance.


Venus Williams

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On top of improving their fitness, some athletes have actually gone vegan as a response to an illness. This is the case with Venus Williams, who was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome and had to withdraw from the 2011 US Open.

Williams has since elected to live off a plant-based diet, which she credits to helping her get back to tennis. She even went on to win gold at the 2012 Olympics and still manages to compete today. “There’s something about when you’re eating healthy food,” Williams said when discussing the switch. “It makes you feel proud and it makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing.”


Kyrie Irving

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The NBA superstar feels that by going vegan it has improved his game, mentioning in an interview as far back as October 2017 that he was moving to a plant-based diet after doing extensive research on it. “I had to get away from that,” Irving told analysts, in reference to the amount of meat that made up his previous diet. “So my energy is up. My body feels amazing.”

Specifically, Irving mentions that he’s noticed a boost in his performance during back-to-back contests. This was something he struggled with earlier in his career, with his shooting suffering a 10% decrease between games with no rest days. A vegan diet has allowed him to recover much faster.


Fiona Oakes

vegan athletes

Speaking in an interview with Plant Based News, the Chesterfield-born long-distance runner revealed that she has been a vegan since she was young, thanks to her parents who adhered to the diet. “My diet is my life, the reason I live and it’s not up for debate,” she stated.

Oakes has had some great success in her career, including winning both the Antarctic Ice Marathon and the North Pole Marathon in 2013. She even holds the record for becoming the fastest female in aggregate time to win a marathon on each continent.

Read a full interview with Runner Fiona Oakes here >>

This feature post is contributed by Jayden Sykes

Read more about considerations to have when adopting a vegan diet or check out our full range of Thrive vegan recipes.