The vegan movement shows no signs of slowing down so we’ve taken a look to see which players follow a vegan diet. Wimbledon starts this Monday 2nd July, so grab some strawberries and your favourite non-dairy cream to sit back and watch the action this summer!
Venus & Serena Williams
Venus Williams adopted a vegan diet on the recommendation of her doctor, after being diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a debilitating and incurable autoimmune disease, which causes excessive fatigue. Doctors encouraged her to adopt a raw vegan diet to help manage her diagnosis, and her sister and fellow tennis player Serena took on the diet to support Venus. She was told that the raw diet would help with fatigue and joint pain.
Speaking to Health magazine, Venus Williams said: “I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I wanted to maintain my performance on the court. Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fuelling your body in the best way possible [through raw, vegan food].”
When asked about any tips she had to help people change their diets, Williams said: “I always tell people that you have to enjoy what you’re eating. If you’re eating a plant based diet, or a mixture of one, make sure you’re eating something you like. Find a restaurant, recipes, or join a community – that way you can learn and enjoy your food. If you can’t enjoy your eating, I don’t know how much life would be!”
Her sister Serena is believed to follow a mostly vegan diet, for health reasons, however some article say that she relapses to non-vegan foods. In an article published on Hungry Forever, Serena Williams said: “I think it’s just really goof to clean out your system sometimes just to get rid of all the waste and things like that that are just in your system and let the earth from the plants really clean you out. So I’m a big believer in that.”
Djokovic switched to a vegan, gluten-free diet following health problems which saw him collapsing mid-match. He trialled a gluten-free diet and immediately noticed the effects, prompting him to stick to a gluten-free diet. Intolerance tests found that dairy was also a problem, and removed refined sugar too.
Speaking about his diet to Forbes, Djokovic said: “My diet hasn’t just changed my game, it’s changed my life – my wellbeing. And if I feel better, that obviously transfers to my professional life. Eating vegan makes me more aware of my body on the court… more alert. I removed toxin from my body, and with them went all the inflammation and other things that were messing with my energy levels.
“As an athlete, the most important this is to keep your energy levels consistent – especially as a tennis player, where you’re alone on the course for a best of five match. When playing for 3, 4, 5 hours straight, you need the right fuel… and for me, that right fuel is plant based.”
Djokovic practices yoga and meditation daily to have a calm state of mind, and when speaking to Amuse, he said: “Everybody has their ways to reach that state of consciousness where you’re in a good mood and you feel love towards yourself, towards people around you, towards the planet. The tennis star opened a vegan restaurant in 2016 in Monaco, called Eqvita.
Although Martina Navaratilova is retired from professional tennis, she is one of the athletes who is vegan and is an avid supporter of PETA. She is one of the greatest tennis players in history, winning 18 grand slams – including 9 Wimbledon titles. Her notable tennis career busts all the myths about sportspeople needing meat to be successful, and the dreaded question from every vegan about where your protein comes from.
Countless documentaries and studies disprove the need for meat in our diets to be successful in sport and to properly function in day to day life. The vegan community continually has to put up with people claiming that veganism isn’t a diet that humans should follow; however, the millions of healthy vegans and vegan athletes with successful sports careers put these opinions to shame.
Keep an eye out for The Game Changers, produced by James Cameron and featuring several successful athletes at the peak of their careers who follow a plant based diet.