Veganism in Athletes



Many athletes around the world have changed their lifestyles to eating plant-based and have overall began to feel stronger.

Emma Khamo, Editor-In-Chief

The general idea of an athlete is someone who is always at practice, covered in bumps and bruises, and eats a lot, and I mean, A LOT. Most even associate athletes with the constant need for protein and the most common supply of protein comes from meat, but what many do not know, is that not all athletes need to get their main source of food from meat and animal products, but instead by going Vegan.


In 2018, a documentary was introduced at the Sundance festival highlighting the benefits of plant-based eating for athletes. This documentary took several success stories of fantastic athletes and tried to prove that even non-athletes should consider the vegan lifestyle (


The documentary is mainly based on a former UFC fighter, James Wilks, who was recovering from an injury all throughout the documentary. He found that a vegan diet helped him recover faster and stronger.


Now the big question is…what is the plant-based advantage for athletes? It was found that a lot of performance-based diets were centered around meat, and although protein from meat can be important, it was taking away from the essential carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should be an essential part of all athletic diets and it is very easy to find vegan carbs such as rice and chickpeas. These foods are very versatile and some fun ways to use them is by making rice and veggies before a big training day or making buffalo chickpea wraps after a long day of workout out.


Similarly, animal-based meals can absolutely destroy our arteries and plant-based diets are an easy way to unclog our hearts. Research showed that an animal-based meal can block up to 40% of our arteries while vegan meals are a lot more open. This will overall open up an athlete’s respiratory systems, therefore building up an athlete’s endurance.


It is the foods like lettuce, carrots, and spinach that help our blood vessels open so much. They all include the ingredient nitrate that has an important role. These healthy foods will overall help athletes be a stronger player as they will not be constantly carried down by fats found in animal products like bacon.


In addition to the healthy heart benefits, a plant-based diet has proved that it can “decrease soreness, reduce muscle damage, and support recovery”. All things that are beneficial to the performance of an athlete and can make an athletes so much stronger and more durable during the long season.


Freshman, Tyson Woods (9), who plays on the Yorba Linda High School Football team says that “although he mainly eats animal products, he and his family try and corporate vegan meals into our daily lives and I always feel better afterward.” Woods tends to feel like he can last a lot longer on the field when he has eaten plant-based meals


Overall, the use of plant-based eating in athletes can become super beneficial. It might be hard at the beginning for some, even just eating one plant-based meal before a big game or during a week where you know you have a lot of workouts scheduled, it will make you a better player.