Athletes Turn to Plant-Based Diets to Improve Performance

Written by Katie Vann

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Can you imagine a day when vegans and vegetarians are no longer asked “where do you get your protein?” — but rather, the initial knee-jerk response to finding out that someone still eats meat is: “But, how do you get enough nutrients in your diet?”

This day might be closer than we think thanks to vegan athletes like triathlete Brendan Brazier, ultra runners Rich Roll and Scott Jurek and NFL guard Deuce Lutui making headlines, winning events and showing off toned, muscular physiques.

Given all the health research behind the benefits of a vegan diet, it  makes sense that eliminating animal product intake would enhance athletic performance.

A recent news feature on ABC-7 in Los Angeles showcased Jacksonville Jaguars NFL player Montell Owen, mixed-martial-arts fighter Mac Danzig, and triathlete Brendan Brazier. All three have seen their athletic performances improve after adopting a vegan diet, and they were excited to share their experiences.

Montell Owen decided to go vegan after seeing his own family and friends experiencing health challenges. Realizing many of these health complications his family–and Americans in general–are facing are preventable through diet, Montell decided, “Culturally there needs to be a change, and why not start with myself?”

Another recent news story illustrates that vegan athletes no longer exist on the fringes of mainstream athletics. Although, this story does happen to originate from the edge of the earth, so to speak–on the North Pole. A few weeks ago, vegan athlete Fiona Oakes won the women’s portion of the North Pole Marathon. Think running 26.2 miles is hard? Try running 26.2 miles in -28°C weather. Fiona not only won the race, she also broke the course record by 44 minutes, despite what’s reported as the worst conditions in the race’s history.

Talk about tough. Fiona is also one of only a handful of competitors to complete the Marathon des Sables, a race that involves competitors running seven marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert in Morocco. And because that’s apparently not challenging enough, the runners need to carry all of their own supplies for the entire week.

Across the world, 101-year-old vegan marathoner Fauja Singh, ran his last competitive race in Hong Kong in February. Singh made headlines in 2011 when he became the oldest man to complete a marathon at the age of 100. Singh attributes his longevity and good health to his plant-based diet.

Learn more about how eating vegan can improve your health. Visit TryVeg.com for more info.