Vegan Power Crushes the British Grand Prix AND Wimbledon

Posted on by Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

Last week, the power of plant-based nutrition was clear at two major sporting events. At the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton took the checkered flag, expanding his lead in the Formula One championship. Five-time world champion, Hamilton has been an outspoken advocate of vegan diets, not only for their performance advantages, but also for compassionate and environmental reasons. “People say ‘Oh, I need my protein and that's why I could never go vegan,'" Hamilton said in May. “I have plenty of protein in my diet and I've gained muscle, and I'm healthier and happier than I've ever been. Wish I did it sooner.” A few hours after Hamilton's victory, the world’s No. 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic, raised Wimbledon’s gold trophy, defeating Roger Federer in a grueling 5-hour match. Djokovic credits a plant-based diet with his ability to recover quickly. Although he prefers not to affix a label to his own diet, he acknowledges having avoided animal products for many years, and even started a vegan restaurant. After his victory, Djokovic followed his now-familiar tradition of kneeling down and jokingly plucking grass from the Wimbledon court and eating it, smiling to the crowd. A week earlier, the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the Women’s World Cup thanks to the leadership of Alex Morgan, who co-captains the U.S. women’s national soccer team and follows a vegan diet. Earlier this year, my colleagues and I released a scientific report explaining the vegan edge in athletics. Plant-based foods promote a leaner body composition, foster glycogen storage for endurance, improve blood flow and tissue oxygenation, and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation for faster recovery. “It’s no wonder that more and more athletes are racing to a vegan diet,” says James Loomis, M.D., M.B.A., medical director for the Barnard Medical Center, who co-authored the report. “Whether you’re training for a couch-to-5K or an Ironman Triathlon, a plant-based diet is a powerful tool for improving athletic performance and recovery.” Dr. Loomis, who is currently training for an Ironman Triathlon, is also featured in The Game Changers, a documentary on vegan athletes, which will be released in theaters across the country on September 16. Learn more about the six reasons athletes are running toward a vegan diet. Photo from here, with thanks.