HomeArticlesFamous vegetarian and vegan athletes

One of the common stereotypes about vegetarianism (and veganism in particular) is that such a diet is only suitable for physically weak people and those who do not experience physical activity due to their lifestyle. There are many conflicting studies of scientists, as well as their own impressions of people who have deprived themselves of animal products. At the very least, this indicates that the number of factors that affect a person's health and fitness is much greater than the type of food he chooses. Unfortunately, representatives of both camps often “use” this feature to their advantage: both supporters and opponents of vegetarianism.

Without attempting to claim that any vegetarian diet, combined with any features of your body and lifestyle, will make you a record holder, we will provide living evidence that excellent - the best in the world - sports results, directly related to the health of the body, physical strength and stamina, not only can be achieved, but has already been achieved by outstanding vegetarians and vegans from all corners of our planet.

Who can be found on this list?

It is not possible to estimate the total number of athletes on a vegetarian/vegan diet. This is also facilitated by such a factor that the information disseminated in the media is often insufficient or categorically incorrect: for example, in the vastness of Runet there are headlines of articles about the vegetarianism of a Russian athlete, who, in the interview cited there, says that she refused only meat, but regularly eats chicken .

Therefore, the criteria for selecting people for this list were as follows:

  1. A person has achieved outstanding results in his sport (s): the highest awards, world records, world fame.
  2. There is unequivocal evidence on the Internet about the diet that a person adheres to. To clarify them, significant sources of information issued by search engines were carefully checked.
  3. The person adhered to a vegetarian or vegan diet during his achievements. Many stars have become vegetarian either for a short time or after their successful careers.

It was not intended to select all the best tennis players or boxers - one or only a few representatives were selected for each sport, because this is enough to demonstrate the existing diversity among vegan and vegetarian record holders, as well as their outstanding abilities and sporting achievements (taking into account the specifics physical activity).

List of verified vegans and vegetarians from the world of sports

Athletes are divided into groups. For each, his / her country and year of birth, type of food, sports, key awards / achievements / records are indicated.

Running, athletics, triathlon

Carl Lewis - legendary American track and field athlete and vegetarian
  • Carl Lewis ( USA, born 1961, vegan) is an athlete, multiple Olympic champion and world champion. He became a vegan in 1990, after which he won Olympic gold three times (in 1992 and 1996: long jump, 4 × 100 meters relay) and a number of other awards. In 1999, he received the title of "Athlete of the Century" according to the results of a vote by the International Olympic Committee, is the "World Athlete of the Century" according to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and the owner of the international Prince of Asturias Award. According to Lewis, his outstanding athletic performance in 1991 was made possible by a vegan diet.
  • Edwin Moses ( USA, 1955, vegetarian) - track and field athlete, 2-time Olympic champion in the 400-meter hurdles, from 1977 to 1987 did not lose a single start in 122 races. Vegetarian and humanist who promotes the ideas of peace. In May 2009, the University of Massachusetts awarded Moses an honorary doctorate for his efforts to uphold the integrity of the Olympic Games and use of sport as a tool for positive social change.
  • Emil Voigt ( Great Britain, 1883-1973, vegetarian) - track and field athlete, the last Olympic champion in the 5-mile race (in 1908 he set a permanent world record, since such a distance did not compete again), winner of many races in Great Britain, Europe and Australia (where he migrated in 1911). He chose for ethical reasons, was a member of the local Vegetarian Cycling Club.
  • Fiona Oakes - vegan marathoner with 3 world records

    Fiona Oakes [ Great Britain, born 1968, vegan] is a marathon runner with three world records. Became a vegan at the age of 6. She lost her kneecap at the age of 17, which did not stop her from new achievements. She is known for her love for animals (she runs a shelter and a non-profit foundation) and for Russia. He is a patron of the British charitable organization Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS), established in 2008 and opposing the use of animals in entertainment (zoos, circuses, etc.).

  • Brendan Brazier (Canada, born 1975, vegan) is a triathlete. Twice winner of the 50 km ultramarathon in Canada (in 2003 and 2006). A committed vegan since 1999, Brazier has written several successful books on vegan nutrition and created a brand of plant-based foods (Vega).
  • Hillary Biscay [USA, born 1978, vegan] is a triathlete. Competed in 60 Ironman races, 2013 Ultraman World Champion and the fastest debut in Ultraman history (2010). In 2009, while reading the book "Food Revolution" (John Robbins), " was shocked to learn how much energy is required to produce products from animals and what their impact on the environment", after which she became a vegan. According to her, with the transition to food exclusively of plant origin, she became "lighter, faster and stronger."


Boxing and other martial arts, wrestling

Vegetarian wrestler Georg Gakkenshmidt, nicknamed "Russian Lion"
  • Georg Gakkenshmidt (Hakenschmidt) [Russia-Estonia, 1877-1968, vegetarian] is one of the first professional wrestlers, who received the nickname "Russian Lion". The first world champion in freestyle wrestling, the author of several power records, the winner of the world championships in weightlifting. Gakkenshmidt paid great attention to nutrition - according to Estonian sources, he was a vegetarian.
  • Éder Jofre (Brazil, born 1936, vegetarian) is a boxer. World champion in the categories of the lightest (1961-1964) and featherweight (1973) weight. Member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF), one of the best punchers of all time according to Ring Magazine, best bantamweight boxer according to the International Boxing Research Organization. As a teenager, he visited a slaughterhouse, after which, for ethical reasons, he became a vegetarian and remained so throughout his boxing career.
  • Lenroy Thompson (Lenroy Thompson, Cam F. Awesome) [USA, born 1988, vegan] is a boxer. Multiple US amateur heavyweight boxing champion, captain of the US national team (2016). He became a vegan in 2012, after which he won a number of titles (including the US champion in 2013 and 2014) and began promoting veganism in his hometown (Uniondale, a suburb of New York). Also known for promoting public awareness of breast cancer (for this reason, Thompson often performs in pink clothes).
  • Mac Danzig [ United States, born 1980, vegan] is a mixed martial artist who won The Ultimate Fighter 6 (2007). He became a vegan in 2006 and, according to him , "was the only vegan in martial arts for a long time." From the age of 18 to 20 he worked in an animal shelter, is an animal rights advocate.
Killer Kowalski - the author of the school of wrestling and propagandist of vegetarianism
  • Claire Foreman [ Australian, vegan] - Thai boxing (Muay Thai) fighter, Australian champion in 2015. “ I became a vegetarian in response to the terrible conditions in which animals are kept on industrial farms and for reasons of environmental sustainability, but it has become really useful for sports and health as well.” Vegetarian since 2008, vegan since July 2015.
  • Walter Kowalski ( Poland-Canada, 1926-2008, vegetarian) - wrestler, multiple champion. He created his own wrestling school, where he trained a number of famous fighters. In 2007, he was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame. He became a vegetarian in the 1960s and claimed to be the only vegetarian in professional wrestling. For some time he adhered to a raw food diet. He frequently spoke at the Boston Vegetarian Society, as well as Boston vegetarian restaurants and on cable television, where he discussed wrestling and his dietary choices.


Football, hockey, basketball

  • Neil Robinson (UK, born 1957, vegan) is the first known vegan professional soccer player. Became a vegetarian at the age of 13 and a vegan at the age of 23. He was named Grimsby Town Football Club Player of the Year for the 1985–86 season, then playing in the second most important league in England.
  • Robbie Earle [ Jamaica-UK, born 1965, vegetarian] is a British club and Jamaican national footballer. He played 33 matches for the national team, including scoring all of its goals in the 1998 World Cup (including Jamaica's first goal in the final series of the World Cup). He is a vegetarian according to the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain.
  • Forest Green Rovers is a UK vegan football club.

    … and about the whole football club of vegans from Great Britain – Forest Green Rovers – we have already written in the news.

  • Michael "Mike" Zigomanis (Macedonia-Canada, born 1981, vegan) is an ice hockey player known for his performances in the NHL and AHL. He went vegan in 2011 and won the American Hockey League (AHL) Man of the Year award in 2013.
  • Bill Walton [ United States, born 1952, vegetarian] is a basketball player. he was already a vegetarian. Twice became the NBA champion (1977, 1986).
  • Ricky Williams (USA, born 1977, vegetarian) is an American football player (12 seasons in the NFL and one in the CFL). Heisman Trophy winner, two-time All-American. During his athletic career, he followed an almost strict vegetarian diet with the only exception being Greek yogurt.


Winter sports

Bode Miller is a vegetarian and the most successful American skier.
  • Bode Miller [ USA, born 1977, vegetarian] is a skier, Olympic champion and multiple world champion. He grew up a vegetarian and became the most successful American skier, as well as the oldest Olympic medalist in skiing.
  • Meagan Duhamel [ Canada, born 1985, vegan] is a pair figure skater. She became a vegan in December 2008, after which she was twice world champion (2015 and 2016), as well as the winner of several other world competitions (two golds at the Four Continents Championships, gold at the Grand Prix Final). According to her, the chosen type of nutrition helps in training, concentration and recovery after exercise.
  • Hannah Teter ( USA, born 1987, vegetarian) is a snowboarder, Olympic champion (2006, halfpipe) and 6-time World Cup winner. Became a vegetarian after watching the movie Earthlings and said the diet "took her to another level" as an athlete. She donated the funds earned from her awards (more than 100 thousand USD in total) to charity. He is the Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics organization for persons with intellectual disabilities.


Other sports

  • Alexey Voevoda [Russia, born in 1980, vegetarian] is a bobsledder, two-time Olympic champion (2014), and world champion (2011). Became a vegetarian in 2010, tried a raw food diet for 3 months. He believes that cutting out meat has helped improve both athletic performance and well-being. Before bobsledding, he was engaged in arm wrestling, becoming a 3-time world champion, and after the Olympics in Sochi, he announced that he was returning to this type of wrestling.
  • Venus and Serena Williams are legendary tennis sisters

    Venus and Serena Williams (Venus Williams, Serena Williams) [USA, born 1980 and 1981, vegan] are legendary tennis sisters. In 2011, Venus became a vegan in order to reduce inflammation (the autoimmune disease Sjögren's Syndrome), after which Serena followed her choice to support her sister. Since then, the sisters have become Olympic champions in doubles (2012), Serena won gold in singles there, and Venus won silver at the next Olympics (2016). In addition, Serena retained the status of the first racket of the world according to the WTA rating from 2013 to 2016 for 186 weeks, which is a record figure in history (repeating the result of Steffi Graf in 1987-1991).

  • Lizzie Deignan (Armitstead) (Lizzie Deignan, dev. Armitstead) [Great Britain, born 1988, vegetarian] is a track cyclist, world champion and silver medalist in the 2012 Olympic Games 140 km road group race. She became a vegetarian at the age of 10 years.
  • Johnny Weissmuller ( Hungary-USA, 1904-1984, vegetarian) - swimmer, 5-time Olympic champion. Became a vegetarian by the prescription of the American vegetarian doctor John Kellogg, after which he was able to break one of his records in swimming. He is also known as an actor who played the role of Tarzan in films of the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Ricardo Torres Nava (Mexico, born 1954, vegetarian) is the first Latin American to summit Everest. Conquered the Seven Summits of the World, received the title of "Athlete of the Year" (1989) and even "Athlete of the Century" from the Mexican government. In a 1999 interview, he talked about his vegetarianism.
  • Rustam Gelmanov [Kazakhstan-Russia, born in 1987, vegetarian] is a rock climber. Bouldering World Cup winner (2008), world ranking leader (2009 and 2011); the first Russian athlete to conquer the difficult Action Directe 9A track. Became a vegetarian in 2005.
  • Patrick Babumyan is a vegan and the strongest man in Germany

    Patrik Baboumian [ Armenia-Germany, born 1979, vegan] is a strength athlete and former bodybuilder. Became a vegetarian in 2005 and a vegan in 2011. Since 2009, he has the status of "The Strongest Man in Germany" and is the author of the world record in the log lift (log lift) in weight up to 105 kg (with a maximum weight of 165 kg). She is the face of advertising campaigns for animal rights organization PETA.

  • Olga Yaremenko [Russia, born in 1988, vegetarian] is an international master of sports in kettlebell lifting, a multiple (6-time as of 2018) world champion. She became a vegetarian on the instructions of her coach in 2011 (at the age of 23): “I have solved many health problems that have tormented me for many years. Accelerated my recovery after training. I have a lightness in my body. Vegetarianism has become one of the components of an integrated approach to my training, in which athletic performance began to grow. By the way, I set my records in kettlebell lifting already, being a vegetarian.
  • Anil Kumble [ India, born 1970, vegetarian] is a cricketer. One of the most famous cricketers in his country, in the past the captain of the national team, and now (since 2016) - its head coach. Vegetarian, apparently, is from birth. He himself comments on his choice: “Vegetarianism saves the lives of animals, and it is unsurpassed in the support of a muscular body and endurance. Vegetarian food contains all the vitamins and proteins you need to stay in top shape and free of the fat, cholesterol and toxins found in meat."


Veganism and sports? Yes!

Of course, this is not a complete list of outstanding athletes whose vegetarian diet has been confirmed, but such examples - diverse in types of activity and geography - should be enough to understand that plant-based food and outstanding physical data are not a myth, but a reality. Athletes have special nutritional requirements, often very different from those usual for "ordinary" people, but even in such cases, veganism or vegetarianism becomes the right choice to get all the necessary elements to gain strength, speed, agility, endurance ... - everything that is needed for new achievements and world records.

Not everything that suits one will give the same result for others, but the stereotypes about the lack of the necessary substances in food of plant origin and the impossibility of having a healthy ( and strong!) Body with such a diet clearly contradict simple facts, namely, the examples of people listed higher. And let the spread of such facts benefit everyone.

Vegetarianism is a modern sports trend

One of the takeaways from this list is that the number of vegetarians and vegans who achieve success in professional sports has skyrocketed in recent years. People switch to such a diet for various reasons: for better health and athletic performance, for ethical reasons, for the sake of the ecology of the planet ... One way or another, our contemporaries have more information about all these factors and data on the experience of past generations, so they are more willing to make such a choice .

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Dmitry Shurupov Dmitry Shurupov

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