England fast bowler James Anderson has revealed he is considering going vegan in a bid to prolong his international career, after missing all but a few hours of this Ashes series through injury.
Anderson, 37, says he wants to keep on playing until he is 40, and is weighing up whether switching to a plant-based diet might help keep him at the top of his game.
How a vegan diet can help athletes
A report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, found several potential benefits for sportsmen taking up a vegan diet.
These include low saturated fats and cholesterol, which improves blood thickness and subsequently helps more oxygen reach the muscles, positively affecting athletic performance.
Other potential benefits were lower body fat, increased arterial flexibility – meaning better blood flow – and more antioxidants leading to faster recovery times.
Anderson would be far from the first sportsman to jump on the bandwagon, with everyone from footballers to boxers and Formula 1 drivers ditching meat and dairy in the name of hitting their physical peak. Here are other big names who have bad the switch.
Lewis Hamilton – F1
Five-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is one of sport’s most prominent vegans, having adopted the lifestyle in 2017. He is so committed to veganism that he has even helped launch a vegan fast food restaurant, Neat Burger, which will exist across the UK by next year.
Speaking to the BBC in the past about his choice, Hamilton said: “As the human race, what we are doing to the world… the pollution coming from the amount of cows that are being produced is incredible. They say it is more than what we produce with our flights and our cars, which is kind of crazy to think. The cruelty is horrible and I don’t necessarily want to support that.”
Hector Bellerin – football
Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin is one of many prominent Premier League players who have decided to go vegan. Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has also made the switch, as well as former Tottenham and Bournemouth forward Jermain Defoe, who now plays for Rangers.
Even Lionel Messi, five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, has adopted a mostly vegan diet.
Bellerin announced in a Veganuary video last year: “I realised that there were athletes out there that were not just vegetarian, but actually vegan. So I started researching and found out that a vegan diet wasn’t just suitable for me, it was actually better for my body. So I switched.”
Venus and Serena Williams – tennis
Venus Williams has been vegan since 2011, switching to purely raw foods after being diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome. Doctors told her cutting out meat and dairy could help her with some of the symptoms, which include fatigue and joint pain. In solidarity, her sister Serena, winner of 23 grand slam titles, also switched to a vegan diet.
Men’s No 1 Novak Djokovic is another adopter. “My diet hasn’t just changed my game, it’s changed my life – my wellbeing,” he told Forbes.
Tom Brady – American football
Brady has long been famous for the strict vegan diet he swears by to keep his body in prime condition – as well as the six Super Bowl titles of course.
At 42, Brady is still one of the very best quarterbacks in the NFL, and his lifestyle is catching on. Fellow quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers recently made the switch, while 15 members of the Tennessee Titans have also sent meat and dairy to the end zone.
David Haye – boxing
“Apes are 20 times stronger than humans and they don’t rely on a meat-based diet. They eat plants all day long. It’s a myth that you need meat for strength,” said former world heavyweight champion Haye when asked about his vegan diet.
Australian Mark de Mori mocked Haye for his decision to ditch meat before their 2016 fight. Haye’s response? To knock him out in the first round in front of a full crowd at the O2 arena.
Peter Siddle – cricket
Anderson has company in the world of cricket in the form of Ashes rival Peter Siddle, who claims to eat up to 20 bananas a day.
“It is working. I am feeling fit and strong. It can vary anything between 15-20 bananas a day,” he told The Telegraph in 2013. “Obviously it is a fruit-based diet and a lot of vegetables. It keeps me healthy, it keeps me strong and that is what is working at the moment.”
Barny du Plessis – bodybuilding
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2014 Mr. Universe Barny du Plessis went vegan after coping with health issues. In an exclusive PETA interview, he said,"Since becoming a vegan my training has been amazing. I wake up feeling good, I've got more energy, my recovery's really good and I've got no aches and pains. Best of all, I'm not contributing to the suffering of animals." @inkedbymruniverse #plantstrong #vegan #bodybuilding #calisthenics #plantbased #veganathlete
Barny du Plessis believes he is proof that anyone can go vegan, no matter the requirements of their sport. He won the Mr Universe title in 2014, a year after adopting a plant-based diet, and claims his body feels all the better for it.
“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,” he said.Read More