When you decided to look at switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet, you likely found there were those who didn’t want to accept your lifestyle change. Whether you have been on this diet for the greater part of your life or you are just starting your journey, you’ve probably already heard people tell you how difficult it will be to perform athletically. Contrary to these naysayers, there are actually quite a few known vegetarian and vegan athletes who prove you don’t need meat to succeed in sports.
A vegetarian by choice, Joe Namath is commonly quoted as saying, “It shows you don’t need meat to play football.” His career in the NFL was quite impressive and he is often considered to be one of the greatest of all time. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985, he certainly does show you don’t need to eat meat to play football.
Out of all the Olympic runners out there, no name garners more recognition than Carl Lewis. To say his 10 Olympic medals—nine of which were gold—are impressive would be an understatement. Of course, during his running career, he also found his vegetarian diet helped him perform. Testing the limits even more, he followed a full vegan diet in preparation of the 1991 World Championships and as a result, claims he ran his best.
Famous Ironman triathlete Dave Scott was actually the first person to be inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame, and during his time as a contestant he secured six separate first place victories. Even today he remains active, which is no doubt a result of his clean vegetarian diet.
Whereas some bodybuilders and strength trainers might accept vegetarianism, they are much less likely to agree with veganism. There are actually quite a few vegan bodybuilders out there today, some of them breaking records and showing quite well it doesn’t take meat or dairy to build strength.
Jim Morris, formerly Mr. Universe, is one excellent example of this, as even in his 70s he continues to lift and post pictures of his work. At his prime, he was well-respected and showed that vegans can really lift, and his continuous effort today shows just how much his diet could help build strong muscles.
Though it was widely publicized when Prince Fielder started his vegetarian journey, it’s important to watch out for the most up to date information. In reality, his stint as a vegetarian only lasted for a few months.