High-power performance from a plant diet. It’s not only possible, for these athletes it’s proving to be the secret to playing at their very best.
With seven grand slam and 49 WTA singles titles under her belt, there’s no doubt that Venus Williams is one of the tennis greats. However, she was almost forced to retire from the sport after being diagnosed with Sjorgren’s syndrome, an auto-immune disease whose symptoms include joint pain and fatigue. The 37-year-old tennis star has returned to the top of her game and she credits her comeback with a change in diet that eliminated all animal products including dairy, meat, and fish.
For New Zealand’s rising tennis star Marcus Daniell, making the choice to become vegetarian was less about performance and more about the environment. As a farm boy who had studied environmental philosophy, it was not a decision that he took lightly. The final impetus for changing his diet to plant-based was when he discovered what he ate impacted the environment more than any transport choices he could make. The 27-year-old doubles player spoke to Venus Williams at the Australian Open to get advice on managing a vegetarian lifestyle on the tennis circuit and since then hasn’t looked back.
Australia’s golden girl of surf has paddled her way to six world championship titles on the World Surf League circuit. For Steph, listening to her body and eating fresh, clean foods are paramount to her success. While she’s not completely vegetarian, she follows a flexitarian diet which is mostly made up of plant-based foods. Young female surfers are leading the green charge, with fellow Aussie Nikki Van Dijk following a completely vegan lifestyle, which she credits as one of the key factors driving her success.
Going vegan is big news among the US basketball ranks with many big-name basketball players changing their diet to increase endurance and stamina. Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is one of the highest profile to make the switch and says, with team-mate Jaylen Brown vegetarian too. If you love your US basketball, Damien Lillard, Wilson Chandler, Al Jefferson, Garrett Temple, Enes Kanter, JaVale McGee and Jahlil Okafor are some of the other players to adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Australian cricketer Peter Siddle has had an impressive career. With 62 test matches and more than 200 test wickets under his belt, the fast bowler has been a formidable part of Australia's pace attack for many years, and is currently lending his pace to the Adelaide Strikers in the BBL. Siddle has fuelled his matches with a meat-free diet for several years now. Shifting to a totally vegan diet with his wife, Siddle's love for bananas (sometimes eating up to 15 each day!) was so notorious that his team mates nicknamed him 'banana man'. He credits his diet overhaul with improving his overall health, energy and recovery time between matches.