- Many professional athletes follow strict diets to sustain their physical durability and performance.
- Numerous athletes now follow vegetarian and vegan diets.
- NBA stars Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving are just a few athletes who have turned to plant-based diets.
Plant-based diets are growing in the pro sports world, as many star athletes have ditched meat and dairy to gain a competitive edge and maintain longevity in their careers.
Basketball player Chris Paul switched to a vegan diet in 2019 at the age of 34 when he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the switch helped him return to the NBA All-Star game for the first time in four seasons, he told Men's Health.
Paul returned to the All-Star game again the next season and even helped lead the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals.
Venus Williams is also a strict vegan.
The 41-year-old women's tennis icon adopted a raw vegan diet after she was diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome in 2011 and doctors advised the diet could relieve some of her symptoms, such as extreme fatigue and joint pain, she said in an interview with Health.com,
Williams said she made the switch to help maintain her elite performance on the tennis court, but eventually just fell in love with the diet, not only for her career, but also her overall wellbeing.
NFL rookie quarterback Justin Fields has identified as a vegetarian since trying the diet during the spring of 2020.
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic started, Fields told Insider that he and his family tried a vegetarian 28-day detox. Fields, who was still in college at Ohio State at the time, stuck with the diet after the detox was over and carried his new lifestyle into his professional career as the Chicago Bears quarterback. He even said he hopes to someday open a plant-based pizza shop in Chicago.
Kyrie Irving switched to a strict vegan lifestyle in 2017 when he was with the Boston Celtics after watching the Netflix documentary "What The Health," according to Bleacher Report.
Irving said the switch led to him feeling more energetic both during games and everyday life, and led to improvements to his mood.
US Women's National Soccer Team star Alex Morgan gave up meat and dairy back in 2017 to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle.
The 32-year-old striker said the diet helps her recover faster from intense training sessions and feel less fatigued. She's become leaner and fitter than ever, she told The Beet.
Morgan also told Insider's Gabby Landsverk that she prioritizes anti-inflammatory foods like berries, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens.
Nate Diaz was one the UFC's first fighters to embrace a plant-based lifestyle.
The 32-year-old welterweight fighter said he cut all meat out of his diet when he was 18 years old, and while he eats fish during his off time, when he is training for fights he exclusively eats vegan, he told Men's Journal.
Diaz believes that eating meat would slow him down and believes he is at an advantage over other fighters that don't follow plant-based eating.
DeAndre Jordan went vegan in 2018, and said he did it to help save the environment, according to Veg News.
Jordan even hosted his own vegan cooking show called "Cooking Clean," which debuted in June on the athlete-owned network PlayersTV.
Three-time NBA champion Javale McGee switched to a vegan diet in 2016. The 33-year-old former center said he initially did it as a short-term weight-loss method. He then began to do it on and off when he wanted to lose weight, before adopting the lifestyle as his new normal, he told GQ.
Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan switched to a vegan diet in 2017. Morgan was able to adopt a plant-based diet when his wife, chef Charity Morgan, began preparing vegan meals for him and some of his teammates.
Morgan turned 15 of his teammates vegan during the Titans' 2017 season, which helped the team win a playoff game for the first time in 13 years, according to ESPN. However, those other 15 players only went vegan for the season.