3 Incredible Vegetarian and Vegan Athletes

Vegetarian and vegan athletes from all types of sports are proving that meat isn’t a prerequisite for peak athletic performance. Veggies anyone?

There’s a local comedian I love. At some point during his shows he’ll invariably ask if there are any vegans in the audience. Sometimes I’ll out myself and risk being heckled, but if nobody fesses up his standard response is, “You’re probably too weak to raise your hand.”

It’s all in good fun, obviously, but vegans definitely aren’t the pale and skinny creatures we’ve been stereotyped as. This is especially evident in the world of sports.

Plant-based athletes have been debunking the protein myth for decades. But with more and more sports stars shifting to this way of eating, people are finally starting to sit up and take notice.

Is a vegetarian or vegan diet healthy?

It’s a hotly debated topic with heated arguments coming from both sides. Some say meat-eating is part of being human, while others point out that meat poses a cancer risk. Whatever your thoughts on the subject, you only have to look at the athletes below to see that fueling yourself on plants isn’t that far fetched. If anything, it’s probably helping their performance.

There are many more incredible vegetarian and vegan athletes than the ones mentioned here. I opted to showcase these three in particular for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to show that eating only plants can work for all sports, be it bodybuilding, running, rock climbing or whatever. Secondly, they’ve all been featured on Rich Roll’s podcast. Named one of the 25 fittest men in the world by Men’s Fitness Magazine, Rich transformed his life with plants.

He’s an amazingly talented interviewer with a knack for always getting the most out of his conversations. If you want to learn more about the athletes featured here, Rich’s podcast is the place to do that. Remember to check out his show notes for additional information.

1. Alex Honnold, free solo climber

Named Adventurer of the Year by Outside Magazine, Alex Honnold is a vegetarian force to be reckoned with. Not only did he summit the nearly-vertical El Capitan without a rope, he did so in just under four hours. People take longer than that to hike up the much easier Table Mountain.

The Free Solo star quickly became a household name. Articles about his unbelievable feat crowded the Internet. Everything from the climb itself to Alex’s hands became a topic worthy of discussion.

His vegetarian diet came under the spotlight as well. Everyone wanted to know what exactly was fueling the climber’s epic adventures. Interestingly, Alex wasn’t always a fan of vegetables. He taught himself to eat them because he recognized their nutritional value.

Type his name into Google and you’ll be inundated with information about Alex. I recommend watching “Free Solo“, reading National Geographic’s exclusive story, listening to his interview with Rich Roll and visiting Alex’s website.

2. Catra Corbett, ultra runner

At age 53, ultra runner Catra Corbett has racked up an impressive string of running accolades. She’s run over 250 ultra marathons, holds the overall record for completing the John Muir Trail twice and is one of just four people in the world to have run 100-mile races 100 times.

Catra adopted a vegan diet 24 years ago and hasn’t looked back. She credits the lifestyle for her phenomenal performance levels and keeping her young and fit. A recovering drug addict and sexual abuse survivor, Catra claims running helped her reinvent herself.

Looking at her youthful face and lean runner’s body, it’s hard to imagine that she was once in a downward spiral of addiction and abuse. But after hitting rock bottom in a prison cell, Cara committed to getting her life back on track.

Catra is almost as ubiquitous as Alex online. I recommend checking out her memoir “Reborn on the Run: My Journey from Addiction to Ultramarathons“, reading the New York Times article The Woman Who Outruns the Men, 200 Miles at a Time and listening to her interview with Rich Roll.

3. Nimai Delgado, pro bodybuilder

Raised by Hare Krishna parents who emigrated to the U.S. from Argentina when he was a tot, Nimai has been vegetarian from birth. He’s one of those rare humans who has never eaten a piece of meat, and Nimai made the switch to a 100 percent vegan diet in 2015.

Nimai’s impressive physique will stop naysayers dead in their tracks. Looking at him, there is absolutely no doubting that getting big on a vegan diet is possible. Men’s Health named him one of 15 seriously shredded vegan bodybuilders you should follow on Instagram.

Nimai is also all over the interwebs. Watch the soon-to-be release documentary “The Game Changers“, which Nimai claims heralds a new era for veganism. Follow him on Instagram, and listen to his interview on the Rich Roll podcast.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

42 comments

Shae L
Shae Lee2 months ago

thank you for sharing

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

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Lesa D
Lesa D2 months ago

thank you Angela...

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Jessica Lynch
Jessica Lynch2 months ago

what excellent success stories. #TryVegan

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

th

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

great achievement personally but how do these climbers, runners and weightlifters help anyone?

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

th

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

well done

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Teresa W
Teresa W2 months ago

Wesley, you'd be surprised, but there are still people who believe that meat is indispensable to life, not just to sports...

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Teresa W
Teresa W2 months ago

thank you

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