Can people eat a vegan diet and be athletes? Is it safe to train while following a vegan diet? Will my muscles stop working if I don’t eat meat? These are some of the questions you’ll hear people raise when talking about a plant-based diet and athletics. Okay, maybe we made that last one up, but we wouldn’t be all that shocked if people started asking that question, as well. When it comes to being active on a plant-based diet, people seem to lose their wits a bit. Despite the fact that following a plant-based diet has been shown to lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and according to research, can literally lengthen your lifespan, people seem to think that eating plants somehow doesn’t translate to strength. Well, if there was anyone who could prove this theory wrong it’s Kendrick Farris, the only USA male weightlifter to qualify for the Olympics this year, who also just so happens to be vegan.
That’s right, folks. Arguably the strongest man in America follows a vegan diet. The Olympic athlete went vegan in 2014 after the birth of his son, telling KTBS, “I really don’t know what happened to me. My son was born almost two years ago, he was born in September 2014 and something happened where I was like I’m just seeing the whole thing. So I’m like I need to do something different. Like how do you get back to what is the most purest form of our life, our being and it started with the food.” Before transitioning to a vegan diet, the athlete competed in the 2012 Olympics. Since opting for the plant-based life, Farris has moved up a weight class, and even set a record and beat a personal best by lifting 800 pounds at the 2016 Olympic Trials in Salt Lake City. Then, in May 2016, he broke the American lifting record for clean-and-jerk with three lifts totaling 377 kilograms.
At first, it can be tempting to see these stats and consider the fact that Farris is vegan and be totally mind blown. But the reality of the matter is that Farris is hardly the only person to follow a vegan diet and accomplish physical feats. Vegans have climbed Mount Everest, have been dubbed the strongest in their country and have become professional athletes. These stats are not “impressive for vegans,” they’re just… impressive!
As more people become aware of the power of a plant-based diet, we predict that eventually, it won’t be all that surprising when an athlete announces that they are vegan, or eat mostly plant-based. After all, fuel is fuel, and plant-based food can be just as impressive as meat, nutritionally. In fact, considering it doesn’t have all that other stuff, like antibiotics or hormones, some would argue that it’s better. Yup, turns out vegan may not just be the future of food, but the future of athletics. Who woulda thought?
If you’re looking to learn more about eating plant-based as an athlete, click here.