8 Top Athletes You (Probably) Did Not Know Were Vegan

As the Kigali Peace Marathon is coming up this weekend, I wanted to talk about athleticism and vegan-ism.

Some of the world’s most famous athletes are vegan, despite pre-conceptions.


A common misconception or myth is that a vegan diet is deficient in protein. This is completely untrue and you can get more than enough protein to fuel your workouts on a vegan diet. There have even been studies that show that a vegan diet can help with faster recovery times for athletes and that a vegan diet can improve performance.


A few famous vegan athletes are listed below:


Scott Jurek

  • https://i1.wp.com/weekender.rw/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/arnulfo_quimare_and_scott_jurek1.jpg?w=780&ssl=1Scott Jurek training with Anulfo Quimari, a member of the Rarámuri tribe of Mexico globally-renown for their long-distance running ability

Ultra-marathon runner, Scott Jurek, is a vegan. His diet has helped him win 16 ultra-marathon titles over the years. He first became vegan in college after seeing the negative effects that typical American diets have.

Venus Williams

  • https://i1.wp.com/weekender.rw/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/venus-williams.jpg?w=780&ssl=1Venus Williams, during a quarterfinal match at the 2017 Miami Open tennis tournament
    (AP Photo/Mario Houben)

Venus Williams, one of the most famous and decorated tennis players in history, follows a raw vegan diet. She first switched to this diet back in 2011 on her doctor’s recommendation due to an autoimmune disease.

Lewis Hamilton

  • https://i1.wp.com/weekender.rw/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/lewis-hamilton1.jpg?w=780&ssl=1Lewis Hamilton, who last week won the Canadian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, a world champion Formula 1 driver is vegan. He changed to a vegan diet and lifestyle after learning about the cruelty of the food system and its impacts on the environment.

Colin Kaepernick

  • https://i2.wp.com/weekender.rw/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/ck2.jpg?w=780&ssl=1Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick warms up before an NFL football game in 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Colin Kaepernick, an American football player known for his kneeling on the field to combat police brutality and racial injustice, is a vegan. Eleven members of the Tennessee Titans football team are vegan, including Derrick MorganJurrell Casey and DaQuan Jones.

Kyrie Irving

  • https://i2.wp.com/weekender.rw/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/KI.jpg?w=780&ssl=1Kyrie Irving of Boston Celtics (photo credit: AP)

Kyrie Irving, a famous, championship-winning basketball player for the Boston Celtics, became vegan after watching the documentary, “What the Health”.  

Jermain Defoe

  • https://i1.wp.com/weekender.rw/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/JD3.jpg?w=780&ssl=1Jermain Defoe is the 7th-highest scorer in Premier League history

Jermain Defoe, the 7th highest goal-scorer in Premier League history and currently a striker for Scottish Premiership club Rangers (on loan from Premier League club AFC Bournemouth, and the English national team) credited his ‘comeback’ in 2018 to his switching to a vegan diet.

Other Premier League players, Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (West Ham) and Chris Smalling (Manchester United) are also vegan.

Kendrick Farris

  • https://i1.wp.com/weekender.rw/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Kendrick-Farris.jpg?fit=780%2C373&ssl=1Kednrick Farris was the only U.S male weight-lifter to qualify for the 2016 summer Olympics (photo credit: The Post-Game)

Kendrick Farris is an Olympic weightlifter and credits his vegan diet to his quick recovery times and reducing stress and inflammation in his body.

Tia Blanco

  • https://i0.wp.com/weekender.rw/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Tia-Blanco-Teahupoo-Tahiti_photo-Reef.jpg?fit=780%2C520&ssl=1Tia Blanco, two-time World Surfing Champion

Tiarah Lue Blanco, also known as Tia Blanco is a champion surfer who became vegan in 2013 after being vegetarian for many years. The 22-year old then went on to win the World Surfing Championships in 2015 and 2016.

Vegan diets can fuel your body just as well, or even better, than a traditional omnivore diet. You get enough protein and typically more antioxidants that help your body recover by destroying free radicals and reducing inflammation.

If you’re thinking of running the Peace Marathon, maybe try a vegan diet to fuel your run and recovery! Focus on high protein foods with lots of iron and antioxidants.

Here is a sample day:

  • Breakfast: oats with plant milk, chia seeds, peanut butter and banana.
  • Snack: carrots and cucumber with hummus.
  • Lunch: beans and rice with kale/spinach/ dodo/sukuma and kachumbari; a side of pineapple/oranges.
  • Dinner: curry lentils with broccoli, carrots, aubergine, potatoes, tomato sauce.
  • Dessert: fruit salad with pumpkin seeds.

Other great references:

Six Reasons Athletes Are Running Toward a Vegan Diet

Vegan Diets For Athletes

All views and opinions expressed are the author’s.  Follow Ali for everything vegan on Instagram @vegan_in_rwanda.

[Feature image: Venus Williams, Getty Images]



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