Why Are Professional Athletes Turning to Plant-Based Diets?

Alex Morgan, a U.S. women’s soccer player, told USA Today, “I never thought it was possible I could be playing at an elite level as a professional athlete with a plant-based diet.” Now, the soccer star is doing all kinds of kicks and leaps on her plant-based diet. 

More professional athletes are turning to a plant-based diet to support their super active, kick-ass performance lifestyles. What makes them do this? A whole bunch of reasons, so let’s dive into why these human beans diet as they do.


Athletes are always looking for the best way to beat out the competition. Plant-based diets are naturally higher in carbohydrates which are key for athletes’ diets. Vegan athletes focus on plant-based carbohydrates, fiber, and other micronutrients more than omnivores (animal meat & plant eaters). All those nutrients are helpful to maintain a highly active lifestyle.

When you are moving away from animal products, you become hyper-aware about what you eat. Most plant-based diets naturally abstain from inherently bad foods like sugary junk and fried foods. Fast-food restaurants are by-default not in their routine eating habits. 

Diets high in fatty foods can make the eater feel sluggish and tired, decreasing reaction time, according to Yingting Cao, Ph.D in Men’s Health. It’s hard to get better on the field if they’re overcoming the artificially sweetened, super-frosted sugar O’s they had that morning! 

Eating cleaner is definitely the way to go for professional athletes. Like you’ve heard us say before, it’s important to know that eating plant-based diets are not “all-or-nothing”. Everyone can integrate the level of plant-based foods that is best for their body and lifestyle. 

Conserve the Planet and Energy

Energy and planetary conservation are two major reasons why many people turn plant-based. All those cows, chickens and pigs need space to grow, food to eat, and water to drink. However, how much space and resources is considered too much?

It takes 36,000 calories of energy to produce 1000 calories of beef as Rowan Jacobson, author of American Terroir states. Another study says that meat and dairy use up 83% of our farmland, while giving us only 37% of our protein and 18% of our calories. Those facts could be jarring for any set of eyes or ears.

Some athletes have grown very aware of these facts and decided to ditch the meat altogether. Energy and resource conservation are growing concerns in our modern society, and many athletes are dedicated to giving up burgers, beef, and other animal products.

It Tastes Like the Real Stuff!

Cam Newton, the newest New England Patriots quarterback has opened up about his love for the TASTE of plant-based meats. 

He acknowledged that alternative meat products have come a long way in recent years. Restaurants are getting past the idea of simply swapping out meat 1-to-1 with tofu or some other alternative. Now, vegan cooking has a much better foundation in the culinary world.

“I still love good food," Newton said. "I think that’s a challenge to all chefs out there that notice that. It makes them earn their check. The skilled ones don’t even blink. They don’t even bat an eye. They just fix whatever they need to fix and my hat goes off to them.”

Just like Cam’s favorite chefs, we’ve dedicated ourselves to the art of plant based meats!

Fatigue Recovery

Plant-based diets can help with fatigue recovery, as many athletes note. “Diets emphasizing plant foods have also been shown to reduce indicators of inflammation”, according to Nutrients journal. Inflammation is a known inhibitor of even the greatest of athletes. A plant-based diet has the chance to help decrease inflammation and that’s a plus.

Alex Morgan says her plant-based diet makes her “stronger and helps with fatigue and recovery”. The reason why this happens is because of the nutrients found in many plant foods. James Loomis, M.D., told Runner’s World that a “diet rich in foods with nitric oxide—which is found in beets and other plant-based foods—helps improve blood flow, which helps you recover faster.” We all know faster recovery means you can get back into the game quicker.

Dotsie Bausch is an Olympic cyclist medalist who went vegan later in life and has been an advocate for many years. "You can handle more damage, more training. The more training you can do, the faster you're going to become”, she says. With that logic, the athletes’ reasons to go plant-based could intensify. Less sore muscles? Sign us up! 

Plant-Based Athletes

More athletes than ever have taken the leap into plant-based lifestyles. Each cites their own reasons they have taken the journey. Some have seen phenomenal results. Here’s a list of some folks taking the plant-based plunge:

  1. Venus Williams has won multiple championships at Wimbledon and Grand Slam, while sustaining her vegan lifestyle. 
  2. Tia Blanco is one of the top women’s surfers in the world and she has never eaten any meat ever.
  3. Meagan Duhamel and former partner Craig Buntin won eighth at the 2009 world championships. Then, Duhamel and Eric Radford, rose from seventh in 2011 to first in 2015… and this was all after she switched to veganism.
  4. Morgan Mitchell, Australian sprinter, made her country’s Olympic team on a vegan diet.
  5. Pat Neshek, MLB baseball player, switched to veganism after meeting his wife, and has noticed positive changes in his athletic performance.
  6. Patrik Baboumian… Yes, the strongest man in the world is, in fact, vegan
  7. Alex Morgan reports having increased energy during soccer games.
  8. Tom Brady, a star quarterback in the NFL, eats an “organic, local, and plant-based diet with no highly processed foods”.

These are only a few of many vegan athletes out there. They endorse the plant-based diet and have seen major results in their performance and fulfillment. Based on their advocacy and public statements, we’d say the beans might just do the trick.


Plant-based diets and elite-level athletic performance are not mutually exclusive. There have been many athletes explaining how a plant-based diet works for them. Positive changes in athletic performance can now be associated with planetary conservation, health benefits, and quicker fatigue recovery. Athletes are pushing the boundaries of healthy lifestyle and even teaching us a thing or two about how the human body can function!

Thanks for reading, fellow bean lovers! Very Good Butchers has your back. 

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