16 Olympians Who Are Vegetarian or Vegan
As the Olympic Games in Rio draw to a close, we take a look at the Olympians who have inspired everyone with their dedicated exercise regimens and their unmatched physical abilities. Even more inspiring is the fact that all of these athletes are vegetarian or vegan, competing (and winning!) through plant power alone!
Here are some of the most famous vegetarian and vegan Olympians from around the world.
Kendrick Farris has the distinction of being the only male U.S. weightlifter competing at the Rio Olympics. He’s also been completely vegan since 2014. Cutting out meat from his diet hasn’t been a hindrance, however, as he can still lift as much as 800 pounds, and has won a few Pan American championships.
Venus Williams/Serena Williams
Tennis powerhouses Venus and Serena Williams have proven themselves forces to be reckoned with both on and off the court, and are both vegan. They already have several championship titles under their belt, including a few Olympic medals.
Armitstead decided to become a vegetarian at just 10 years of age, and went on to win a silver medal in cycling during the 2012 London Olympics. The British cyclist is a firm believer that meat is absolutely not required for athletic prowess.
The American volleyball player won a silver medal at the London Olympics, and has returned for the Rio games this year. Though she’s only been vegetarian since 2015, she feels stronger than before and has once again found herself on the winner's podium in Rio.
Like his teammate Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt is a vegetarian wrestler for the Indian team. He was a bronze medalist at the London Olympics and has competed again in Rio.
The young Australian sprinter has been vegan since 2014 and believes the change in diet has helped her reach a new high in fitness levels. Having taken the national title in the women’s 400 meter race this year, she was a natural choice to represent her country in Rio.
Perhaps one of the greatest Olympians of all time, and certainly one of the most famous, Carl Lewis dominated the track and field events in the 80’s and 90’s, racking up an impressive 9 gold medals (out of an overall 10). After going completely vegan in 1990, he believed his athletic performance had only improved.
Back in the 50’s, the idea of being a vegetarian, let alone a vegetarian athlete, would have been considered very unorthodox. Yet not only was Australian swimmer Murray Rose a vegan, he was also a 6-time Olympic medalist and the holder of multiple world records in swimming.
Another legendary track and field athlete, Edwin Moses was at the top of his game during the 1976 and 1984 Olympics. He even set the world record in his event 4 times! Aside from being vegetarian, Moses is a well known humanitarian and advocate for peace.
This young Indian wrestler has medaled at the Olympics and also has a few World Championship victories under his belt. He is a lifelong vegetarian, following a traditional Indian wrestling discipline that is based on a vegetarian diet, though involving large quantities of dairy.
Debbi Lawrence has competed in the Olympic racewalking events, and holds the record for the 5K walking event, a feat that she credits to a vegetarian diet. She advocates the use of herbal supplements when necessary, but the focus is always on proper nutrition.
A tennis tour de force and one of the world’s best known female vegetarian athletes, Martina Navratilova only participated in the Olympics once, in 2004. At 47 years of age, she still put in an impressive performance, all thanks to a plant-based diet.
Canada’s most prominent marathoner, Dylan Wykes is a vegetarian for ethical reasons. He’s very conscious about the impact vegetarianism might have on his performance, however, and makes sure to supplement his diet with plenty of alternative protein sources like lentils and quinoa.
Miller is an American skier with multiple medals at the Winter Olympics in several different skiing events. He is a lifelong vegetarian who believes in sustainable farming practices and even has his own organic farm where he grows his own produce.
Alexey is a celebrated Russian bob sledder who has competed at the Turin and Sochi Winter Olypmics and medaled at both events. He is also an avid arm wrestler, and sticks to a purely vegetarian diet.Sumati Menda
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