Famous Vegan Athletes
Athletes who are, were, or have been vegan or partially vegan during their playing careers.
This list contains information about athletes who are vegan, loosely ranked by fame and popularity. Several famous boxers, football players, and Olympic athletes are vegan. Some of these athletes went vegan for the health benefits, while others adopted the lifestyle for ethical reasons. One of the most successful U.S. track and field runners of all time is vegan. Eat healthy like an athlete with these popular monthly vegan subscription boxes for easy, prepped meals.
Who is the most famous athlete who is vegan? Mike Tyson tops our list. In 2013, Mike Tyson went vegan. He says, "Becoming a vegan gave me another opportunity to live a healthy life. I was so congested from all the drugs and bad cocaine, I could hardly breathe, [I had] high blood pressure, [was] almost dying [and had] arthritis. And once I became a vegan all that stuff diminished."
Carl Lewis adopted a vegan diet in 1990. He says, "My best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet." Vegan John Salley advocates for athletes to adopt a plant-based diet. He says, "I explain to athletes, you’re supposed to be a well-oiled machine. You’re supposed to be in better shape than the people watching you. You’re supposed to be an unbelievable specimen of a human being. You have to treat your body different while you’re performing."
Do you think that adopting a vegan diet has helped these athletes to succeed? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has been plant-based since 2017, when he first watched the documentary What the Health. He's credited the lifestyle for his increased energy and performance on the court, including better recovery times after games and a better overall mood. After hearing about how his new diet was sometimes lacking flavorful options, plant-based meat company Beyond Meat sent him a sample of their product, leading to Kyrie investing in the company and even becoming a brand ambassador.
- Age: 31
- Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
- Teams: Brooklyn Nets
- Photo: @venuswilliams / Instagram
Venus Williams has been a vegan for over a decade. The tennis superstar first tried out the diet after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autimmune disease that causes joint pain. She was advised to try a plant-based diet to ease inflammation and hasn't looked back, continuing to play tennis at a high level and managing her condition without any medication. She's also credited veganism for her healthy, glowing skin. In the last few years, Williams has launched her own brand of vegan protein powders and shakes called Happy Viking as well as invested in an online plant-based food store called PlantX. Though she mostly eats and advocates for clean and plant-based, Williams does very occasionally slip up, calling herself a chegan (cheating vegan) rather than a vegan.
- Age: 42
- Birthplace: Lynwood, California
- Photo: Phoenix Suns / Instagram
After averaging career lows in 2019, Chris Paul switched to a vegan diet after being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder from the Houston Rockets. He had been an executive producer for the documentary The Game Changers, a film that promoted plant-based diets for athletes, and that sparked the decision to give the plant-based diet a try. He credits the change in lifestyle with increased energy levels, mood levels, and recovery time and his stats have backed it up as he led the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals in 2021 and is in the midst of a late-career resurgence. Paul is also an investor and ambassador for Beyond Meat.
- Age: 38
- Birthplace: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States of America
- Teams: Phoenix Suns
- Photo: Visionhaus / Getty Images
Unlike many athletes on this list, US Women's National Soccer Team star Alex Morgan gave up meat in 2017 due to ethical reasons surrounding American factory farming. She started out by cutting meat before moving on to eggs and dairy. As she made the transition, she began to see the health benefits as well, including improvements in endurance and training and a massive drop in her cholesterol numbers. She prioritizes anti-inflammatory foods like berries, sweet potatoes and leafy greens and claims the diet has helped her become less injury-prone on the field.
- Age: 33
- Birthplace: Diamond Bar, California
- Teams: United States women's national soccer team, Western New York Flash, Seattle Sounders Women, Portland Thorns FC
- Photo: Morio / CC-BY-SA 4.0
Experimenting with ways to improve his energy levels and becoming more aware of his environmental impact led Lewis Hamilton to go plant-based in 2018. Like many who have switched to the diet, Hamilton claims he now feels more clear-headed, sleeps better, and recovers quicker. He transitioned to plant-based incrementally and lists his only regret as not choosing to try it sooner. The Formula One racer has also offset his carbon footprint going all the way back to 2007 by selling his private jet, not driving the super cars he owns, and asking to be picked up at the airport in electric vehicles whenever possible. Controversially, he's even put his bulldog Roscoe on a plant-based diet.
- Age: 38
- Birthplace: Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England
- Teams: Mercedes Benz, McLaren
- Photo: mirsasha / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
Novak Djokovic sits in a grey area of veganism. He is environmentally conscious and appears to eat plant-based, however he shies away from the label and his restaurants in Serbia offer meat and animal products. He even spent millions on donkey milk in order to make the world's most expensive cheese. The tennis star's turn towards plant-based started in 2010 when famed nutritionist Dr. Igor Cetojevic discovered he had a gluten intolerance and suggested he cut out gluten and dairy. Over the next few years, he removed all animal products and credits the change for his great performance and fast recovery time.
- Age: 36
- Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia
- Teams: Tennis