"The primary purpose [of going plant-based] at first was to help solve some pain and trauma that I was going through. Over the last two years, I've had two herniated discs.... and that has led to a ton of shooting pain down my legs, its called sciatica. "I've tried to a lot of things; I've had a number of cortisone shots; I've done physical therapy for two years. And I reached a place where I was thinking 'okay maybe I can solve this with nutrition because a lot of our pain stems from inflammation.
"Within a few weeks, I started noticing a lot of alleviation so I started focusing and doubling down more on veganism..." Rabil's YouTube video - entitled 'My Vegan Diet' - also shows what the star eats in a typical week. Foods such as fruit, tofu, hummus, and plant-based meat from Beyond Meat are featured - as well as plant-milks and vegan protein powder.
Professional triathlete Madi Serpico is all about life as a vegan athlete. "I did some research and watched Forks [O]ver Knives and Earthlings and decided that I didn’t want any part of animal cruelty, not to mention putting poison in my body,” she told Viva.
What was the hardest thing about starting a vegan lifestyle?
Being an Elite athlete it was hard at first going through all the up’s and down’s in my energy level trying to figure out what to eat and what would best sustain me for my workouts everyday.
Was there any food that was particularly hard to go without at the beginning?
Surprisingly no and I thought it would be at first coming from an Italian background. I just found that plant based food was so much more enjoyable and there are always meat substitutes that have way more protein better for you.
What’s your go-to vegan meal?
I call it the “Vegan Sushi Bowl” – Brown or white rice, sweet potato, cucumber, onions, avocado, sesame seeds, nori, veganaise, GF soy sauce and hot sauce! It’s the best go to meal and super easy to make!!
Any advice for people thinking about giving veganism a try?
Try going on a plant based diet for a week and then after that slowly start to eliminate meat and dairy products. There’s no surer way to guarantee failure than to go into it with a bad attitude. Unfortunately, this is not something that’s easy for many people to do especially athletes. If you think that going vegan is going to be a punishment or that you won’t last, then it will be, and you won’t. Start with an open mind!
Barny du Plessis is the world’s first vegan bodybuilder and Mr Universe 2014, amongst other national and international titles. Du Plessis went vegan after retiring from bodybuilding in 2013 due to an ever-growing list of health concerns which included hernias and acid reflux. After adopting a vegan lifestyle, the bodybuilder saw his fitness radically improve and he returned to the stage — winning the prestigious Mr Universe title in 2014. "These days I train half as much, do half as much but get better results. Why? Only one answer, going vegan, GMO free, and organic. My body is running perfectly," du Plessis told the Metro. On getting back into competing after turning vegan with his partner, Josie — World’s Strongest Woman 2010 — du Plessis said: "We now have a point to prove and a massive incentive. We are representing the vegans of the world, all the animals and the environment. My crusade is to show the world that we can live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life without exploitation of innocent creatures."
Nicknamed “Tofu Joe,” Ironman athlete Joe Gambles was raised vegetarian and has never eaten meat. He’s now entirely vegan for ethical reasons. “I couldn’t get my head around why you would eat an animal. I can’t see the difference between a cow and my dog. I can’t see why you would eat one and call the other your best friend. I just have a lot of respect for animals and treating them well.”
While some athletes are just discovering the benefits of the plant-based diet, Romero has been vegan for 15 years. She made the switch about a year after joining the Canadian National Team in 2002 at just 15 years old, making her the youngest woman to join the team. As a teenager, she attended the Vans Warped Tour and picked up a DVD from a PETA booth. She watched it on the plane return home, and after viewing the slaughterhouse footage, she said, “I decided I would never contribute to that cruelty and suffering again.”
She continued, “You can’t un-see that kind of horror and abuse. Once I was aware of what it takes to get animal products on my plate, I just knew it wasn’t worth the suffering.”
"I’ve recently gone vegan. In the beginning, it was definitely a health thing, I did a bit of research, had some intolerance tests and cut a few things out of my diet before I went full vegan. I decided to give veganism a go and I haven't looked back since. My diet is all taken care of with meals at the club, and when I'm at home we shop specifically for a vegan diet. Some people think it's some crazy diet but the food still tastes great and I get all the nutrients I need on a day-to-day basis to help me perform well and that’s the most important thing."
Dana Glowacka holds the women's world record for the longest plank. (FYI: It's 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 55 seconds, according to Guinness World Records.) To make it even more impressive, Dana is a vegan athlete. "Vegan diets are the best to prepare for endurance and recovery—I am absolutely convinced!" she wrote on Instagram.
“I think being vegan makes me healthier," she told Great Vegan Athletes. "I certainly believe that vegetable carbs and protein along with all their nutrients build better, cleaner bodies, including muscles, without all the bad-for-you animal fats. And trying to avoid causing pain and suffering along the way is a great thing too.”
“At first, it was basically just for the health benefits,” Neshek said. “I was intrigued by the 2005 season when I cut a lot of that stuff out and got a lot better. It really changed my career.” Neshek has also remarked that he likes knowing his diet is more humane since going vegan.
As the first ever vegan bodybuilder since birth, she told Meat Free Athlete that she considers veganism a lifestyle, and not a diet. Plant-based foods like couscous, vegan chicken, and tofu help her recover from tough workouts. When asked about the advantages of being a vegan athlete, she told Plant Built: “For me, it’s breaking all the stereotypes and barriers that vegans can’t bodybuild.”