13 Vegan Athletes Performing at the Highest Level

Rich Roll, Health Room

Rich Roll spreading the message at DC Vegfest, by Compassion Over Killing

Many people are still under the impression that you need lots of animal protein to be a strong athlete.

That there are certain benefits of eating meat that you can’t source on a vegan diet.

That was what I thought, once upon a time…

These 13 vegan athletes are here to destroy that myth.

Each of them are living proof that you can eat a plant-based diet, and reach peak athletic performance at the same time.

Check them out, and get inspired…

1. RICH ROLL

At one point in time, Rich was in a dark place, stemming from a lifetime of poor nutrition, alcohol, drugs, and inactivity. After struggling to walk up the stairs one day, he decided it was time to make a change.

Through adopting the ‘plant-powered’ way, he transformed himself from a sedentary middle-aged man to one of the ’25 Fittest Guys in the World’, according to Men’s Fitness Magazine.

Rich is a two-time top finisher at the Ultraman World Championships, the 320 mile triathlon race. In 2010 he also completed EPIC5 – 5 Ironman triathlons on 5 Hawaiian Islands in less than a week.

I highly recommend reading his book Finding Ultra, and dropping by the Rich Roll Podcast for some wellness inspiration. It’s well worth it, I promise.

2. SCOTT JUREK

Scott has been fuelled by plant-based diet since 1999. An ultra-running legend, he won the Western States 100 Mile Footrace 7 years in a row, and was the first American to win the 153 mile Greek Spartathalon. He also holds the American record for the 24 hour distance race (165 miles). What a hero.

He was recently seen running around Snowdonia National Park here in sunny Wales, not too far from my home. Small world! I’ve recently finished his book Eat and Run, and it’s a great read.

3. BRENDAN BRAZIER

Brendan is another former professional plant-fuelled tri-athlete. He has won triathlons at Olympic distance, Half Ironman and full Ironman; and was twice Canadian 50k champion.

He is also the author of The Thrive Diet, and runs Vega, a line of plant-based food products and supplements.

4. MICHAEL ARNSTEIN

AKA ‘The Frutarian‘. Michael runs an ultra endurance race what seems like every weekend, has done so almost entirely on raw fruits and vegetables since 2008.

In the 2011 NYC Marathon he ran a 2 hour 28 minute race (an average of 5:39 per mile!). He also has the 8th fastest American time ever at the 100 mile distance, at 12 hours 57 minutes (an average of 7:46 for 100 miles!). Bananas!

5. TIMOTHY SHIEFF 

British born free running and calisthenics extraordinaire Tim ‘Livewire’ Shieff fuels his movement with plants. He’s one of the most successful free running artists in the world, winning the 2009 Barclaycard World Freerun Championship, and also competing in the American Ninja Warrior series.

Go check out his vids if you haven’t already. He’s a cool dude.

6. MAC DANZIG

Recently retired UFC lightweight fighter Mac Danzig has been a vegan since 2004. He was the winner of Season 6 of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show, and is also a former King of the Cage lightweight champion.

He’s also a really good photographer, go check him out here.

7 & 8. THE DIAZ BROTHERS

Sticking with the MMA theme, two of the sport’s finest and perhaps most infamous – Nick and Nate have both been long time vegans, and some say they eat a raw vegan diet leading up to fights.

Both Ceaser Gracie black belts and triathlon machines, the Diaz brothers are two of the baddest brothers in the fighting world.

Edit: The Diaz brothers are apparently no longer completely vegan. Aaron Simpson however, is. 

9. TIMOTHY BRADLEY

Defending his WBA welterweight title against Manny Pacquiao this weekend, undefeated boxer Timothy Bradley uses a vegan diet leading up to his fights, for increased energy and better recovery. With a 29-0 record, I wouldn’t argue with him about where he gets his protein from…

10. PATRIK BABOUMIAN

Also known as Germany’s strongest man. I saw him at London VegFest last year, and he is a pretty big vegan lad.

At Toronto’s Vegetarian Food Festival he carried an astonishing 550 kilos for over 10 meters. Crazy strong. Who said you need meat to lift like a monster?

11. VENUS WILLIAMS

It’s not all about the dudes.

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in 2011, 7 time Grand Slam winner Venus adopted a raw vegan diet. The dietary switch relieved most of her symptoms, decreasing inflammation and allowing the former world number 1 to get back to form.

12. RUTH HEIDRICH

An inspiration to many, Ruth claims that a plant-based diet played a big role in defeating breast cancer and osteoporosis. At aged 67, she has completed 6 Ironman races, run 67 marathons, and was declared “One of the Ten Fittest Women in North America”. She has also authored three books. Check them out.

13. MEAGAN DUHAMEL

Meagan is a vegan figure skater, and has performed both solo and in pairs. Vegan since 2008, in 2012 and 2013 she was a Canadian Gold medallist. In 2013 she also won gold at the ‘4 Continents’ competition, and placed third in the World Championship.


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Luke Jones

Luke Jones is a mover, blogger and wellness enthusiast. He spends his time exploring and sharing ideas in mindful movement, healthy living and adventure.

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