5 Incredible Athletes Powered By Plants

December 12, 2023

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The myth that athletes need to eat protein from animal products to gain muscle and strength is repeatedly being shattered. Every day vegan athletes around the world prove the power of plants helps them stay healthy, participate in demanding competitions, and remain at the top of their game. Plant-based athletes are now competing in almost every discipline and sport fuelled entirely by plants. 

This has played out in films such as The Game Changers, a film about meat, protein, and strength; and the new Netflix series, You Are What You Eat, that includes interviews with top plant-based trainers and coaches.

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The Plant Based Treaty has a playbook that aims to normalize plant-based eating within sports and athletics because athletes are powerful role models for health and fitness. The playbook supports athletes, teams, sports organizations, gyms, and educational institutions in adopting plant-based diets for health, performance, and environmental sustainability.

Keep reading to be inspired by five athletes powered entirely by plants and leading by example, all the way to the finish line.

1. Dotsie Bausch

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American Olympic Silver Medalist and Plant Based Treaty endorser Dotsie Bausch is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she a passionate animal lover, renowned speaker, eight-time US National Cycling Champion, and World Record Holder, she is also the founder of Switch4Good.org. This non-profit organization’s mission is to wean the world off dairy using an evidence based approach and encouraging everyone to ditch dairy for their health and to protect the planet and its inhabitants, specifically dairy cows. Their website offers food tips, a podcast, and helpful resources on how a vegan diet can improve athletic performance.

In 2012 Bausch made it onto the Olympic podium as the oldest athlete in history in her cycling discipline. Now retired from competing, she helps others change their lives for the better.

“If I can win an Olympic medal on a plant-based diet, I feel certain you can thrive on plants too. Together, we can win for all of humanity.”  Dotsie Bausch

2. Sandeep Kumar

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Another endorser of the Plant Based Treaty is elite runner Sandeep Kumar. There is no stopping this vegan runner and in 2018 he became the fastest Indian of all time at the famous Comrades Ultra Marathon. Kumar is a National record holder, international competitor, and leading Indian ultramarathon runner. He was raised vegetarian from birth and became vegan in 2015 for his health, to help the environment, and save animals. After removing dairy from his diet his running speed increased within two months and he dropped 15 minutes off his last marathon time before even starting to train for it. When Kumar is not running marathons or training, he helps others as a certified sports nutritionist, exercise physiologist, and is the founder of Grand Indian Trails, a race and trail running camp in Himalayas and the Western Ghats.

3. Lisa Gawthorne

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Vegan athlete Lisa Gawthorne is an inspiring British vegan duaathlete competing as a runner and a biker. Born in Liverpool, she has won many medals in triathlons and gold at the World Championships in the sprint duathlon race, which made her the new World Age Group Champion. Gawthorne has been vegan for over two decades after making the switch from being vegetarian, when at the age of six made the connection between animals and meat from a PETA flier. After becoming plant-based, she notes that her running and cycling improved in addition to feeling more energetic and having better sleep. Gawthorne is also an author and entrepreneur and runs Bravura Foods, a marketing and distribution service for vegan and vegetarian products. Her book, Gone in 60 Minutes is about workouts, diet, supplements, and state of mind, and it appears from her Instagram account, she’s also a cat lover.

4. Lewis Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton is a vegan racing champion extraordinaire with millions of devoted fans around the world. Hamilton is a seven-time World Champion with the most wins, pole positions, and podium finishes in Formula One history. In addition to being a force for global change when it comes to combating racism and diversity in motorsports, Hamilton is an environmentalist, activist, fashion designer, and musician. Born in England, Lewis has regularly spoken out about veganism and animal rights, including the leather industry, whale hunting, eating animals, and has a healthy (and quite popular) vegan bulldog named Roscoe (learn more about vegan dogs here). In 2019 Hamilton invested in Neat Burger, a vegan fast food restaurant chain in the UK with a location in New York City.

They have recently evolved into a new version called Neat and are now also serving superfood salads and healthier dishes with fresh ingredients while remaining fully vegan.

“Every bit of meat, chicken, or fish you eat, every bit of leather or fur you wear, has come from an animal that has been tortured, pulled away from their families and brutally killed.” – Lewis Hamilton, Instagram

5. Jason Fonger

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Jason Fonger, another endorser of the Plant Based Treaty, is a Canadian triathlete and public speaker that focuses on empowering others about plant-based eating. Fonger won in his age group at Ironman 70.3 Bangsaen, which included swimming, biking, and running, and secured his spot at the world championships. He spread the vegan message on his athletic gear at the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam triathlon and again when he was on the podium wearing his ‘vegan champion’ shirt. As a passionate public speaker, Fonger specializes in empowering high school and post-secondary students with crucial information about following a healthy plant-based lifestyle. He is a four-time triathlon champion and can be found on TikTok encouraging his followers to eat more plants, be active, and have a positive attitude.

“When you choose plant based foods and support initiatives like Plant Based Treaty, you are helping to create a better world.” – Jason Fonger

Written by Miriam Porter:]

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Further Resources

The sports and athletics playbook, written by Fonger, includes key recommendations such as the importance of implementing educational sessions on plant-based nutrition for athletes. It’s organized by informative chapters and explains the impact of nutrition on athletic performance, how athletes can take action and lead by example, engage in community events, and support plant-based initiatives such as endorsing or partnering with plant-based food brands. The playbook is also a helpful resource for sports centers and schools that want to make a positive change for their members and students.

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