The Top 7 Vegan Athletes of 2016!
Last year we wrote about the top five vegan athletes of 2015, which included superstars Serena Williams, Tim Shieff, Scott Jurek, David Carter and Patrik Baboumian. Our list for 2016 brings in some different faces–some familiar and some new, but we celebrate all of them for their impressive accomplishments in 2016!
Honorable mentions include NFL star Griff Whalen who, after becoming a vegan two-and-a-half years ago, stated that the diet provides an “extra edge” in sports, and Tyrann Mathieu of the Arizona Cardinals, who stated that he was in the process of transitioning to a vegan diet, and even created a PSA with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Without any further adieu, here is our list for the top seven vegan athletes of this year:
We start our list with United Kingdom heavyweight boxer David Haye, who made his return to the ring on January 16 after a 3+ year absence due to a shoulder injury. During his absence, the two-time world champion became a vegan, stating:
“I watched a TV documentary about how animals are farmed, killed and prepared for us to eat. I saw all those cows and pigs and realized I couldn’t be a part of it any more. It was horrible. I did some research to make sure I could still obtain enough protein to fight and, once satisfied that I could, I stopped. I’ll never go back.”
Haye’s return was a victorious one as he defeated his opponent Mark de Mori in the first round at London’s O2 Arena in just 131 seconds! Watched by over three million viewers, it was definitely a good way to start the year!
KJ Joseph, a vegan Ayurvedic practitioner in India, broke the Guinness World Record for knuckle push-ups earlier this year at the Ernakulam Town Hall.
The Karate and Kalari master completed 82 push-ups in just one minute, which averages to about 1.3 push-ups per second!
Joseph has no formal training in a gym, and has already stated that he plans to break his own record by going for 90 push-ups next time!
In March, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans were in for a treat as famed Irish fighter Conor McGregor was up against mixed martial artist Nate Diaz, who only had 11 days to prepare for the fight.
Although McGregor had a 15-fight winning streak, after just two rounds Diaz had him in a “rear naked choke” that ultimately ended the fight in Diaz’s favor.
Diaz has stated of his vegan diet: I’ve been vegan since I was 18 years old. (I’ve) been eating raw for the last year and a half, not full complete raw, but as much as I can. Pretty much year round I try to eat raw food as much as I can; there’s raw food restaurants, so it’s not just broccoli and lettuce, there’s entrées and stuff.”
On May 8, Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris broke the American lifting record in the Men’s 94kg clean-and-jerk!
Farris lifted a total of 377kg with three lifts during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting, which was not only his own personal best, but also set a new USA National Record in that category!
A vegan since December 2014, Farris had stated on Facebook: “I transitioned to a vegan diet about a month ago, an I’m happy to report my life has changed for the better I feel like a new person.”
On May 29, UFC fighter Abel Trujillo won his 15th fight by defeating his opponent Jordan Rinaldi during the UFC Fight Night 88.
After winning Trujillo stated: “I just want to say, thank you to everybody. Love is the movement. Go vegan. Do your sadhana kundalini yoga.”
When the commentator asked him how his vegan diet felt mentally and physically, Trujillo stated: “I feel good. I’ve got more clean energy and better clarity…I’ll just get better and better.”
Matthew Jones became the world’s No.3 powerlifter in his age and weight category after competing in the WDFPF World Powerlifting Championship Finals in Wrexham.
The 24-year-old is able to deadlift three times his body weight, and became a vegan last January noting that it helped him become faster and sped up his recovery time.
While initially adopting the diet for health reasons, Jones stated: “When I started power lifting, I did a lot of research and I watched a lot of documentaries which discussed the health benefits of a vegan diet. It was then that I also learnt about the ethical side to it, and realized how cruelly animals are often treated.”
Last but definitely not least in our list is vegan weightlifting champion Hulda B. Waage of Iceland who set a new record in November.
Waage lifted 205 kilos in a deadlift during the championship and stated that while she was happy, she knows that she “could have done better.”
Waage stated of her plant-based lifestyle: “You can be strong without eating meat and animal byproducts. I’ve reached the age when the body produces more swelling. I believe my diet helps with this and I recover more quickly after practices.”
And that wraps up our list for 2016! With so many different vegan athletes accomplishing so many incredible achievements, we cannot wait to see what 2017 has to offer!