Vegetarians and vegans have to fight many battles and one of the biggest is the stereotype surrounding a plant-based diet. The stereotypical depiction of a vegetarian is weedy and weak, particularly in the sports industry. Yet some of the world’s biggest and fittest athletes perform at the highest level on a vegetarian diet proving that going meat-free doesn’t equal lower performance levels.

It’s important to understand that foods affect everyone differently.  Some people will find that they can tolerate a conventional diet well, and it does not affect their sport performance.  Others will find a vegetarian or vegan diet suits their needs much better. The important thing is that you keep an open mind, in order to find what type of diet best supports your lifestyle.

Last year, Vivo Life looked at 9 lessons you can learn from the world’s best athletes regarding their diets. This year we look at three athletes who go meat-free and stay at the top of their game in highly competitive sports. We also look at how it is possible to get enough protein while leading an active lifestyle.

 

David Carter

In the Metro‘s list of 13 vegan athletes, they put NFL defensive lineman David Carter at the top spot. Weighing over 300lb Carter breaks every stereotype that is unfairly put upon vegans. The lineman is an animal rights activist and is quoted in the paper as saying “you don’t have to take a life to gain muscle.” To ensure that everybody knows his dietary beliefs Carter’s Instagram account is called ‘The 300 Pound Vegan’.

Leilani Münter

Racing car driver Leilani Münter has had to fight many battles in the male dominated sport of NASCAR. Undeterred she is also an animal activist promoting a vegan diet while demonstrating that vegans don’t fit into a one-type fits all mould. Speaking to Green Sports Blog she stated that she had been a vegetarian her whole life before becoming vegan in 2011. She went on to tell the site that “the 3 things that give me hope for the future: solar power, electric cars and veganism.”

Sergio Agüero

Football superstar and Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero is one of the highest profile athletes to follow a vegetarian diet. In an interview with the Independent Agüero admitted that he struggled to cope with the demands of the Premier League. He told the paper “I had to change a lot of things, starting with my food. I needed a healthier way of life.”

The change in diet appeared to work as in the 2014-15 season Agüero was the Premier League’s top goal scorer with 26 goals. His form continued into the next campaign with renowned football website Betfair reporting that Manchester City stayed unbeaten at home for 28 games in the Premier League last season. Agüero has been an important component in this impressive run, as he proves that an athlete can perform at the highest level on a vegetarian diet.

It is important that athletes help dispel the many myths surrounding plant-based diets, as they can influence athletes to lead a much healthier lifestyle. One of the biggest myths is that a vegetarian or vegan diet won’t provide an athlete with enough protein for the body to grow and recover. However, Health site Pritikin states that athletes on a plant-based diet can get their protein from sources such as soya beans, lentils, and tofu. With the advances in food development it is also possible to buy a vegetarian-friendly protein shake that will help muscles grow in the same way as a whey based shake.

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