There is a prevailing idea that combining a vegan diet and high intensity endurance training is not a good idea. Many believe that eating a high-protein diet that includes animal products is neccessary to fuel and cope with the physical demands and stress of such training.
Enter a new breed of strong, successful and empowered athletes who are fuelling their success with plants. Each of these amazing individuals have their own inspiring journey and reasons for choosing to fuel their bodies solely on plant food like vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds, eliminating all animal products from their diets. Read up and pay attention. You just might be convinced to cross over to the green side!
Nick Diaz, MMA Cage Fighter
Nick has been a vegan since he was 18 years old and is widely considered to be one of the toughest fighters in MMA, earning the respect of his fans and opponents alike for his 'no-quit, no-surrender' attitude in the cage. Known for his outstanding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission skills, the 33 year old fighter is also a regular participant of triathlons, which accounts for his unparalleled cardio vascular conditioning.
Brendan Brazier, IRONMAN triathlete and Ultra Marathoner
Having bragging rights to finishing a gruelling Ironman Triathlon race or and Ultramarathon is a rare accomplishment. Brendan, however, has done it several times over, fueled and sustained solely by a plant-based diet. From competing professionally on the IRONMAN circuit in the early 2000’s and conquering Ultramarathon distances of 50 Kilometers and beyond, Brendan has since retired from both the sports and is currently one of the world’s leading authorities on plant-based performance nutrition, having penned the bestselling series Thrive and formulated an award-winning line of plant-based nutritional products, Vega.
Griff Whalen, NFL Wide Receiver
Ohio raised and Standford University built, Griff is the only 100% plant-based athlete currently active in the National Football League. While his 5’11” and 190 pound frame does not fit the usual brawny physique of NFL players, he is praised for his productivity and dependability on the field, for always being in the right spot at the right time. In 2012, when a foot injury signalled the end of his football career, Griff overcame his own physical limitations through sheer determination and willpower by adopting a plant-based diet to enhance his body’s ability to adapt to exercise-induced stress. His efforts landed him a spot in the Indianapolis Colts’ starting lineup, continuing on to play for various teams in the NFL league.
Dominick Thompson, Multi-sport athlete
Dom, an Ironman triathlete and bodybuilder, has not eaten meat for thirteen years, propelled by the belief that humans were not physically designed to consume animal protein. This multi-hyphenate's schedule is brutal: 10-12 hour work days as a New York executive on top of several 2-hour training sessions squeezed in throughout the day, logging in over 120 hours of training per month. Exhausted thinking about it? We know we are. Yet, Dom finds the time to everything and slay while at it.
Hannah Teter, Snowboarder
This beautiful free-spirit is a six-time X Games medalist and a Winter Olympic gold-medal winning snowboarder. Hannah became a vegetarian in 2008 after viewing the documentary Earthlings. From that pivotal moment, she has been a staunch advocate for the cause, crediting her Olympic podium finishes to her plant based diet, saying that turning vegetarian made her a better athlete, one that is stronger mentally and physically.
Tia Blanco, Surfer
It may be difficult to believe, but this 19-year-old surfing phenom who is ranked in the top 50 female surfers in the world by the World Surf League has never tasted beef. Growing up in a vegetarian household, Tia was reared on a plant-based diet, eating what her parents ate simply because that was what was made available to her. The choice to stay vegan as she got older, however, was a conscious decision on her part, citing the documentary Glass Walls as instrumental in giving her much needed clarity about her reasons for adapting a vegan lifestyle.
Steph Davis, Rock Climber
Name a mountain and Steph has probably climbed it. With her bare hands. Ranked among the best women climbers worldwide, this rock maven has set the bar high for female badassery, with over two decades as a professional climber, putting up free solo and first ascents of notable peaks around the world. A vegan since 2003, her vegan diet is as stripped back and naturalistic as her way of life: whole foods, whole grains. Nothing processed, nothing pre-made, a formula for success that has fueled almost all of her successful ascents in high risk environments.
Leilani Münter, Race Car Driver
A racecar driver who is an environmental activist? An oxymoron, if ever there was one. But somehow, with someone like Leilani in the driver's seat, it all makes for one easy ride. A vegan since she was six years old, this stunning speedster is on a mission to save the planet on race at a time, generating awareness for global warming, an issue that is close to her heart, dedicating her career to making auto racing environmentally friendly.
ALSO READ: Kitchen Whiz: Make a Vegan Caesar Worth Celebrating
Photographs from Instagram.com/nickdiaz209, Instagram.com/brendanbrazier, Instagram.com/griffwhalen, Instagram.com/domzthompson, Instagram.com/highsteph, Instagram.com/tiablanco, Instagram.com/leilanimunter, Instagram.com/hannahteter
Banner photo by the author