Athletes of all disciplines have always been strong figures of inspiration to all of us.
The example they give with their perseverance, strength of spirit, and inner drive to overcome all obstacles often makes them the shining light for people who seek a source of purpose and motivation in their everyday lives.
Society may refuse to listen to regular Joe, who looks like a weirdo for shunning meat and dairy, but it is hard to ignore a nine-time Olympic gold medalist, who is an embodiment of internal force, strength of will, and discipline, and …. Has quit meat for good. Now his lifestyle choice ought to carry some weight.
Please note some of these historical figures were vegetarian, but so were most current vegans of their generation – let us not forget that at the time they were born and lived, factory farming was not as developed, and information on the treatment of animals was not as widespread as it is today.
11 Elite Olympic Athletes Who Are Vegan And So Inspiring It Hurts!
1. Paavo Nurmi
One of the greatest distance runners in history, the ‘Flying Finn’ won nine gold medals in long-distance running events during the 1924 and 1928 Olympics, including the 1,500m and 5,000m on the same afternoon in Paris in 1924. What made this reclusive character keep going for gold when others weren’t even standing?
In 1958, when he looked back over his athletic career, he said that the one thing it had taught him was that there are “neither unbeatable records nor human limits”.
2. Murray Rose
Known as the ‘Seaweed Streak’ because of his vegan diet, Australian swimmer Rose won four Olympic gold medals in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. He was a vegan from from childhood.
3. Edwin Moses
Twice the Olympic 400m hurdles gold medallist, Moses went on one of the most incredible winning streaks in the history of sport when he won 122 successive races between 1977 and 1987, breaking four world records along the way.
He did it all on a plant-based diet!
4. Carl Lewis
Many are familiar with track and field legend Carl Lewis. Lewis’s storied career spanned multiple decades and multiple Olympic games. By the end of his career, Carl Lewis had won an astonishing 10 Olympic medals, nine of which were gold, and cemented his legacy as one of the fastest men to ever live.
Carl went vegan for health reasons as he was eager to obtain nutrients while minimising excessive calories. In the following season he improved his performances.
“I’ve found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete. In fact, my best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet. Moreover, by continuing to eat a vegan diet, my weight is under control, I like the way I look. (I know that sounds vain, but all of us want to like the way we look.) I enjoy eating more, and I feel great.”
5. Alexey Voevoda
Russian bobsledder (and professional armwrestler) Voevoda has competed in three Olympics, winning two gold medals in the Sochi games. “At first, I approached [going vegan] from a scientific standpoint. However, I then came to have some ethical views about this diet. I love happy, living animals!” he told PETA UK in 2014.
The wrestling arena is no exception when it comes to vegetarian winners. Campbell missed his chance at Olympic gold in 1980 through the US boycott of the Games – he won the world title in 1981 – but he managed to come back in 1992 to win bronze in Barcelona at the ripe old age of 37.
8. Cam Awesome
Cam is an 8 time national super heavyweight boxing champion, and captain of the USA National Boxing team.
He was inspired by a fellow boxer in his local gym who he saw grow stronger and fitter on a plant-based diet. He says he “went vegan ‘cold Tofurkey’”, and fell in love with the lifestyle after two weeks. Cam adds:
“since being plant based, I am 23-0, winning 3 International Golds and 2 National tournaments and can thank my new lifestyle.”
Cam now feels more agile and healthy with a shorter recovery time.
Like Bode Miller, British cyclist Lizzie Armistead has been vegetarian since birth. Armistead was the pride of her nation during the 2008 Olympics in London, when she won a coveted cycling medal. All without, as she puts it, “eating corpses.”
11. Hannah Teter
Hannah Teter is a vegan and also a gold and silver Olympic medalist for snowboarding.
“I feel stronger than I’ve ever been, mentally, physically, and emotionally. My plant-based diet has opened up more doors to being an athlete. It’s a whole other level that I’m elevating to. I stopped eating animals about a year ago, and it’s a new life. I feel like a new person, a new athlete.”
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