Nowadays, even more athletes are starting to go more plant-based. Whether it be vegan, vegetarian or anything in between. So come and find out why these professional athletes are making the change.
Why Are More and More Athletes Going Vegan?
If you’re looking to amp up your energy levels and eat your way towards becoming a better, healthier athlete, you might want to take a note from elite athletes like tennis star, Venus Williams, record-setting endurance runner, Scott Jurek, or Titans linebacker, Derrick Morgan. They are part of a growing trend of professional athletes adopting a vegan lifestyle.
Benefits of Going Vegan
So why are more and more athletes going vegan? While a vegan lifestyle does provide an actionable way for someone to live by their ethical and moral principles; turns out it also boasts numerous physical benefits that can contribute towards greater athletic efficiency and performance. Benefits of a vegan diet include:
There are a variety of theories for why eating more plants increases energy levels. In general, animal proteins require more time and energy to digest than plants. So consuming plant-based proteins actually frees up energy for your body to use. Plant-based foods are also nutrient-dense which means they deliver a ton of energizing vitamins and minerals without added junk like sugars, preservatives, and processed ingredients. *Note: Protein also plays a critical role in energy levels so if you don’t get enough protein on your vegan diet, your energy levels may falter.
Better Overall Health
A growing body of evidence continues to point toward major health benefits people can derive from replacing animal food sources with plant-based food sources. Lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, eating more plant-based foods has also been shown to combat lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease . Similarly, 2016 research shared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Internal Medicine) additionally found that people who eat more protein from plant sources have a lower risk of death .
Healthier Weight Loss
A recent study focusing on obese participants and plant-based eating found that those who consumed a vegan diet during a 16-week randomized trial period showed significant reductions in body weight, insulin resistance, and fat mass compared to a control group . Some endurance athletes, like marathon runners, have to be extra mindful of weight loss and consuming enough macro and micronutrients to sustain adequate fuel. These new findings could play an important role for naturally heavier athletes considering veganism like football players and bodybuilders.
Plant-based eating has long been associated with an increased consumption of nutrients like antioxidants, phytochemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids that help fight inflammation and oxidative stress. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dark leafy greens, seeds, nuts, and spices comes naturally as a vegan too. This will leave little room for unhealthy processed foods, white flours, and fried fatty dishes that contribute to inflammation.
A 2018 pilot study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism revealed significant improvements in well-being among participants who were encouraged to minimize their consumption of animal products and refined food and increase their consumption of vegetables, greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fruits . Furthermore, employees who took part in the workplace nutrition intervention program reported positive improvement in depressive symptoms, quality of life, and sleep quality.
Simple Tips for Going Vegan
If you are an athlete interested in consuming more plant-based foods, then going ‘cold turkey’ may not be your most effective method. Instead, take small, manageable steps which will help you thoughtfully transition your mind and body to a vegan diet.
Make One Day Meatless
As a cultural shift towards plant-based eating started to take place within the past decade, Meatless Monday has become a popular trend even finding its way into schools and restaurants. Join a worldwide community of people who are skipping meat altogether on Mondays. As a result, you can find interesting ideas, knowledge, and support for plant-based eating.
Follow Vegan Athletes on Social Media
You can also look to the pros for your daily dose of vegan motivation. Following successful athletes you admire who are embracing a vegan lifestyle on social media can add inspiration to your meal plans. As well as connect you with helpful training tips that complement your athletic goals.
Subscribe to a Vegan Food Blogger
Worried that you simply don’t know how to make interesting and tasty vegan meals that compare to what you are used to? Nothing beats the inspiration of receiving hand-crafted, delicious vegan meal ideas in your inbox every day from savvy bloggers. These people have already put in the work for you to uncover the best plant-based combinations and cooking practices.
Veganize One Meal a Day
Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, find one meal where you can naturally cut meat out for good. Ditching eggs and meat during breakfast, for example, still leaves you with tons of option including tofu scrambles, oatmeal with nuts and seeds, quinoa with non-dairy milk and honey, whole grain vegan cereals, and vegan granola.
Make Easy Vegan Swaps
Finally, incorporate more plant-based foods into your favorite dishes by doing things like replacing noodles and meat sauce with zucchini spirals and a red sauce with vegetables or replacing chicken in tacos with shredded and seasoned jackfruit.
Check out our blog on 8 easy ways to eat more plant-based foods.
Shop TDF Sports line of vegan supplements, ideal for athletes or everyday people making healthier choices.
 Song M, Fung TT, Hu FB, et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(10):1453–1463. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2540540
 Satija, A., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Rimm, E. B., Spiegelman, D., Chiuve, S. E., Borgi, L., Willett, W. C., Manson, J. E., Sun, Q., … Hu, F. B. (2016). Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS medicine, 13(6), e1002039. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002039 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4907448/
 Kahleova, H., Fleeman, R., Hlozkova, A., Holubkov, R., & Barnard, N. D. (2018). A plant-based diet in overweight individuals in a 16-week randomized clinical trial: metabolic benefits of plant protein. Nutrition & diabetes, 8(1), 58. doi:10.1038/s41387-018-0067-4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6221888/
 Sutliffe, J. T., Carnot, M. J., Fuhrman, J. H., Sutliffe, C. A., & Scheid, J. C. (2018). A Worksite Nutrition Intervention is Effective at Improving Employee Well-Being: A Pilot Study. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2018, 8187203. doi:10.1155/2018/8187203 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954895/