10 Plant-Based Athletes Absolutely Crushing It (And What You Can Learn From Their Success)

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It’s no secret that plant-based athletes are having a moment…

Many of the world’s top and most talked about athletes follow a plant-based diet, such as soccer stars Alex Morgan, co-captain of the US Women’s World Cup winning soccer team, and Lionel Messi, not to mention the countless plant-based athletes making their way onto the tennis courts, racetracks, football fields, and in NBA basketball arenas across the country.

Runners, bodybuilders, weight lifters, and athletes from all stripes seem to be leaning toward plants for optimal athletic performance more than ever before.

Why? Because the benefits are real.

You’ve known that. I’ve known that. And now professional athletes and the entire world are getting to know that at an incredible rate.

And with each new professional’s success story comes additional motivation and drive…

Motivation to get stronger and fitter, and drive to spread the word about what’s possible on a plant-based diet.

So today I’m sharing some of my favorite stories and athletes right now who I hope will give you the same level of motivation they’ve given me.

Athletes who are absolutely crushing it on a plant-based diet, and what you can take away or learn from their success.

#10: Natalie Matthews

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A post shared by Natalie Matthews IFBB PRO (@fitveganchef) on Jan 9, 2020 at 10:54am PST

The Athlete
Natalie, a bikini competitor in one of the divisions within the larger bodybuilding and fitness industry, turned pro in 2018 within the IFBB (International Federation of Body Builders) as one of the top bikini competitors in the world. In 2019, she competed across the country, placing as high as 4th in an Olympia-qualifying pro show at the Battle at the Falls in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, just one spot behind three-time world champion, Ashley Kaltwasser. Natalie also placed 7th at the IFBB Indy Pro in Indianapolis, Indiana in her first full season as an IFBB Pro. Her bikini division is the most popular, and therefore most competitive, of any category within the bodybuilding industry. In addition to being one of the world’s top bikini competitors, Natalie is a former professional surfer, and is a professional chef and cookbook author. If 2019 was any indication of what to expect from Natalie in the future, it’s a good bet that 2020 will be even more epic for the Puerto Rican chef turned world renowned fitness model.

Having worked and toured with Natalie, I’ve seen that her recipe for success is her passion combined with her work ethic.

When she sets a goal, she creates a plan, develops habits, and makes deliberate, daily actions that help her achieve her goals.

The Takeaway
Look inside and find what your own passion is and create action plans for daily steps that get you closer to your goal.

It could be as simple as writing a goal down that you see every single day, or waking up early to complete your workout before your day gets away from you. With Natalie, it’s all about priorities, and if it matters to her, she’ll find a way. It has served her well as a newcomer to a sport where she is already one of the best on the planet.

For more information about Natalie, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @fitveganchef or on www.fitveganchef.com.

#9: Torre Washington

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A post shared by Torre Washington IFBB Pro (@torre.washington) on Feb 10, 2020 at 11:02am PST

The Athlete
Torre is a champion bodybuilder and physique competitor at the highest level — he has been either a vegetarian or vegan nearly his entire life. He earned his IFBB professional status in 2018, and competed throughout the past year, placing as high as 3rd at the first fully drug-tested IFBB Pro show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He also finished 4th at the Muscle Contest in Los Angeles, California. Along with his top 5 finishes at the most prestigious level of professional bodybuilding, within the most competitive category of men’s physique, Torre also traveled the world promoting the plant-based athlete lifestyle from Australia to Mexico. He is a sought after personal trainer, eBook author, coach, and international public speaker. Torre is also featured in the film, From The Ground Up, and he has become one of the most influential vegan bodybuilders in the world.

Torre’s success stems from a sincere desire to help others. This is evident to anyone who has followed him online in recent years, and very clear to me, as someone who has known Torre for more than a decade.

Torre is also a true fan of the sport he competes in. He cheers on other competitors, and wants to see everyone become the best versions of themselves. In a sport that is inherently competitive, based on subjective judging, where athletes are quite literally compared to one another on stage, Torre is a fan of the process. He knows that at the end of the day, it’s him vs. him, and he has never lost sight of that. It is that approach that has made him one of the best vegan bodybuilders in the world, and certainly one of the most influential.

The Takeaway
Smile often, lift others up, and share your passion with others. Torre always seems happy, and it is likely that positive attitude that keeps him ahead of the competition in a fairly isolated sport of bodybuilding.

For more information about Torre, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @torre.washington or on www.torrewashington.com.

#8: Mary Schneider

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A post shared by Mary Schneider (@greenbodymary) on Jan 30, 2020 at 7:26am PST

The Athlete
Mary is a long distance runner who qualified for the 2020 USA Olympic Trials in the marathon. With a personal best time of 2:42.01 (which is a 6:11 pace for 26.2 miles), she qualified for the USA Olympic Trials in 2019, and eyes the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games. Over the past year, Mary has been a key member of the Prado Racing Team in San Diego, CA, and she became the 2019 San Diego USATF XC Women’s Champion. With a blistering pace for the half marathon at 1:17:38, which is a 5:56 pace, she has been an Overall Female Winner in races from her native San Diego to Virginia Beach, and from Lehigh Valley to Delaware.

As a plant-based athlete since 2017, Mary has seen a significant improvement in her athletic performance, recovery after training, and has set her all-time personal records in distances from 5k to marathon. She works as a holistic nutritionist and is a USATF certified running coach, having coached beginners to those who have qualified for Olympic Trials. If that wasn’t enough, Mary is also a lawyer and a yoga instructor, and leads by example as she follows her passion to make her dreams happen.

What I find especially inspiring about Mary is that she took time away from the sport of competitive running to pursue a law degree and get her career started, but then she returned to running at the highest level and performed at her very best.

The Takeaway
A great lesson from her example is that it is never too late to do what you love. I know first hand as a former runner, turned bodybuilder, turned runner again (and eventually turned weightlifter again), that even after a long hiatus, success and joy can be found in a sport you love. So if there is a sport that tugs at your heart, but that you haven’t pursued in quite some time, today could be the perfect day to do something again for the first time.

For more information about Mary, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @greenbodymary or on www.greenbodyrunner.com.

#7: Liz Cambage

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A post shared by ????????? ??? ??????? (@ecambage) on Aug 19, 2019 at 6:06pm PDT

The Athlete
Liz is a professional basketball player in the WNBA, as an all-star center for the Las Vegas Aces. Following her exceptional 2018 season, where she set a WNBA scoring record with 53 points scored in a single game, she returned to the WNBA all-star game in 2019 and led her team to the post season playoffs. In addition to being a three-time WNBA all-star, Liz was also named to the 2019 All-WNBA Second Team, and she finished the season ranked 10th in the league in scoring, 7th in rebounding, and 6th in blocked shots.

Liz not only had another breakout basketball season, but she also had a breakout year as an international star when she graced the cover of ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue, in which famous athletes pose nude or semi-nude, showing their professional athlete bodies in tasteful ways. Liz is a part of a growing group of WNBA and NBA players who have adopted a plant-based diet. Other notable plant-based basketball stars include Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, JaVale McGee, DeAndre Jordan, and Diana Taurasi.

Excelling in sports hasn’t always come easy for Liz. In fact, she has spoken openly about her struggles with mental health. She penned an open letter to the Players Tribune where she shared her own struggles, but also with some uplifting words for readers, including, in a description of her letter, “I just want everyone to remember that we are all human, we all have our ups and downs and we should never be ashamed of our feelings. And please remember to be kind to one another, for you never know what others are going through.”

The Takeaway
There are many lessons here, including the simple fact that we all have feelings, no matter how famous we are, and fame, success, and money don’t make underlying issues go away. Liz encourages us to address our feelings, embrace them, and talk about them, before they take control over us.

For more information about Liz, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @ecambage or on Twitter.

#6: Morgan Mitchell

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A post shared by Morgan Mitchell (@morganmitch) on Dec 10, 2019 at 7:50pm PST

The Athlete
Olympic sprinter Morgan Mitchell is a star in the blockbuster film, The Game Changers, and she had an incredible 2019 season on the track. Between distances of 200 and 1600 meters, she racked up three 1st place finishes, and a whopping 13 top 3 finishes. She also won multiple relay races and had four top 3 finishes in the 4 x 400 meter team relay. In addition to her native Australia, Morgan competed around the world, taking her talents to China, Italy, Great Britain, France, Qatar, Japan, and the United States. With the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics around the corner, keep an eye out for Morgan to crush it in 2020 too.

As Morgan addresses in The Game Changers, she is looking for an edge as an elite athlete, and she discovered that edge through diet. Many of us talk about results we want to achieve someday, as simple as a New Year’s Resolution, or as lofty as qualifying for the Boston Marathon, but there is a fundamental difference between wishing and doing. Morgan knows that today’s workout impacts tomorrow, and that hundreds of days in the future, the Olympic Games take place. Having a goal, setting a target, and working every day to reach a destination that is far off in the distance is the mentality of an Olympic athlete.

The Takeaway
Whether you have aspirations of being one of the best in the world at what you love, or you simply want to have more energy and a better mood, take a page out of Morgan’s playbook and focus on the future by making the most of today.

For more information about Morgan, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @morganmitch or on teammathewsrunning.com.au.

#5: Hin Chun Chui

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A post shared by Hin Chun Chui (@vegan_bodybuilder_hin_chui) on Jan 4, 2020 at 8:16am PST

The Athlete
Hin Chun Chui is a vegan bodybuilder, and is quickly emerging as one of the most successful and dominant competitive bodybuilders in the industry. In 2019, Hin took 6 first place trophies, following a year of taking home gold 6 times in 2018. Competing around the world, promoting the vegan bodybuilding lifestyle, Hin has become an international star. Winning the IFBB Denmark Pro Nordic World Show in multiple divisions, as well as the IFBB Canada Ben Weider Natural Championship in physique and in bodybuilding, and the IFBB Asia Pro Qualifier Taiwan in two divisions at the end of December, capped off an outstanding year for Hin taking on the world stage. With twelve first place finishes, including multiple world championships over the past two years, while just in his early twenties, Hin has an incredibly bright future in the sport of bodybuilding and beyond.

Something I’ve learned from Hin after watching him compete in person, and from meeting him, as well as following his career for years, is that he doesn’t let anything get in his way. He literally trains six or seven days a week, allowing his body to adapt to a high workload, just like a marathon runner is able to sustain a training routine of six or seven days a week of running as a result of adaptation, and he has conditioned himself to manage a high volume of exercise to achieve his goals. He believes he can be one of the best in the world, and he enthusiastically pursues that mission because of his love for the vegan lifestyle and his desire to spread awareness of veganism as a result of his athletic success as a vegan bodybuilder.

The Takeaway
Despite his incredible success, Hin is also humble and gracious and knows that to be great at anything takes a team effort, and is quick to thank his training partners, coaches, sponsors, and fans who cheer him on along the way. That’s a lesson that all of us can get behind. Be grateful, but stay hungry.

For more information about Hin, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @vegan_bodybuilder_hin_chui or on cleanmachineonline.com.

#4: Robbie Balenger

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A post shared by Robbie Balenger (@robbiebalenger) on Feb 7, 2020 at 6:08am PST

The Athlete
Robbie is an ultra endurance athlete, best known for his 3,175-mile run across the United States over the course of 75 days from March to May of 2019. That’s a minimum of running 40 miles per day for 75 consecutive days, with an average of 42.3 miles covered daily, with no days off, which is unimaginable for most people. Not only did he run from Los Angeles to New York in two and a half months, he did it largely to raise awareness of the power of a plant-based diet. Robbie’s transcontinental run was sponsored by the Texas-based vegan ice cream company, Nada Moo, and his effort raised awareness of the dairy-free lifestyle at large. Robbie appeared on the Rich Roll Podcast at the end of 2019, reaching a vast audience, sharing his unique journey across the country.

I followed Robbie’s journey across the country, and regrettably never joined him for a few miles when he ran through my current home state of Arizona. Robbie’s accomplishment reminds me of the late Steve Prefontaine who was America’s greatest running legend in the ‘70s known for testing the limits of the human heart.

The Takeaway
Robbie had the audacity to believe he could run substantially further than a marathon every single day for 75 consecutive days, and so he did. If he can believe in himself enough to make that dream happen, imagine what potential lies in each one of us. What dreams do you feel like chasing? What goals do you want to conquer?

For more information about Robbie, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @robbiebalenger or on plantpoweredmission.com.

#3. Lewis Hamilton

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A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on Dec 1, 2019 at 10:07am PST

The Athlete
Lewis is a Formula One race car driver, considered to be one of the greatest of all-time. He is a six-time Formula One World Champion driving a Mercedes on race tracks around the world. In 2019, he seemed to be winning races around every turn. Lewis took the first place crown a record 11 times, including in four consecutive races, and six out of seven consecutive starts. He brought home the title from racetracks in Bahrain, China, Spain, Monaco, Canada, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Russia, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi. Lewis uses his platform, including his Instagram audience of more than 14 million followers, to promote a plant-based diet. As an executive producer of The Game Changers, Lewis made a big splash in 2019 among a plant-based community largely previously unaware of his accomplishments on the racetrack.

He speaks out for animals and the environment, and crosses over into various other ventures beyond the racetrack, including fashion. In 2019, Lewis set an all-time record in Formula One racing with 413 points and 17 podiums, with his sights set on a bright racing season in 2020.

The Takeaway
I’ve never met Lewis, but have followed him online for many months, after I heard about his involvement with The Game Changers. Something that strikes me as particularly inspiring about Lewis is that he seems to be more authentic than many other celebrity athletes. He really appears to have a quiet confidence about him that is a strength that sets the tone for the success he achieves in sports, in business, and in life. He comes across as truly himself, whether you like it or not, and there is something highly admirable about that as viewer and fan watching from afar.

If there is one thing we can learn from Lewis, it’s that there is power in being your authentic self. If he can have a positive influence on millions of others to communicate that idea, he will have done a great service to humanity.

For more information about Lewis, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @lewishamilton or on lewishamilton.com.

#2. Novak Djokovic

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A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on Feb 2, 2020 at 5:47am PST

The Athlete
Novak is the number one ranked men’s tennis player in the world. In 2019, he won five tournaments, including the Australian Open, Madrid Open, Japan Open, Paris Masters, and the prestigious Wimbledon title in epic fashion over Roger Federer in one of the greatest championship matches in history. With a 57-11 singles record, and more than $13 million in tournament earnings in 2019, we can safely say that Novak crushed it last year. Like Lewis Hamilton, Novak is also an executive producer of The Game Changers and has used his platform to encourage others to adopt a plant-based diet. The sport of tennis is no stranger to plant-based athletes. Venus and Serena Williams have dominated the sport for decades, and for the past ten years they have followed a mostly or exclusively plant-based diet. Martina Navratilova is considered to be one of the greatest female tennis players of all-time and is a long-time vegetarian.

As the year and the decade came to a close, Novak was named the ATP’s Men’s Tennis Player of the Decade. But not to be complacent, he kicked off 2020 with a bang by winning the Australian Open for a record eighth time and is on pace to become the greatest men’s tennis player of all time.

The Takeaway
What I like about Novak is that it seems like every time I see him talking on camera, he is discussing a plant-based diet. The plant-based athlete movement is still new enough that there is a lot of ridicule out there toward those of us who live and eat this way. But Novak is living it boldly, and that will hopefully inspire other athletes, from world-class to weekend warriors, to feel comfortable saying “I am a plant-based athlete.” Maybe that inspires you to be unapologetically plant-based too.

For more information about Novak, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @djokernole or on novakdjokovic.com.

#1. Alex Morgan

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A post shared by Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) on Sep 16, 2019 at 3:02pm PDT

The Athlete
Alex is the co-captain of the US Women’s World Cup Champion soccer team, and she uplifted an entire nation with her performance in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. As arguably the most popular athlete of the year, with her summer spent in the global spotlight, this plant-based athlete World Cup champ is my 2019 Plant-Based Athlete of the Year. Alex not only let her skill on the soccer field do the talking, but she graced magazine covers, appeared on television shows, and won awards all year as the quintessential champion of champions. Alex provided inspiration to an entire gender, and entire nation, and to the world at large on the biggest stage in the world’s most popular sport.

Fueled by plants, Alex has established herself as one of the greatest of all-time in her sport and will remain a sports icon for years to come. It comes at no surprise that Alex made the TIME 100 Most Influential People list for 2019. Like Torre, Alex was also featured in the plant-based athlete documentary, From The Ground Up. With her long list of accolades and awards, perhaps her most exciting news of 2019 was announced in October when she and her husband shared the news that they are expecting a baby girl in April.

The Takeaway
The thing that inspires me about Alex is that she was already on the world stage as a famous athlete and she didn’t let that deter her from changing her diet to eat exclusively plants. Often times, the world’s greatest athletes have been discouraged from changing their approaches to nutrition or training with a fear from coaches, teammates, nutritionists, team sponsors, and team owners that their performance will be negatively impacted.

Alex shows us that it is okay to trust your gut and eat in alignment with your beliefs. And she did it while walking right into the global spotlight as the brightest star of 2019 of any athlete in any sport.

For more information about Alex, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @alexmorgan13 or on alexmorgansoccer.com.

And This is Just the Beginning…

More and more athletes are switching to a plant-based diet and excelling because of it.

And as that growth continues, so does our motivation to show the world what’s possible eating only plants.

Which plant-based athletes are your biggest inspirations?

About the Author: Robert Cheeke, best-selling author of Plant-Based Muscle, Shred It!, and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, 2-time champion bodybuilder, and founder/president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – www.veganbodybuilding.com.

The post 10 Plant-Based Athletes Absolutely Crushing It (And What You Can Learn From Their Success) appeared first on No Meat Athlete.

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