By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
Plant-based athletes at a professional level are finding new levels of strength for the body and mind after turning to veganism to enhance their physiques — and they’re seeing incredible results. Most non-vegan athletes I meet are confused at first, and perhaps uneducated about where vegans get their protein. However, increasingly more and more people are now leaning the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle for sportspeople. You can build muscle and strength with a plant-based lifestyle — and many high profile athletes are now using the diet to enhance their sports abilities.
Contrary to popular belief, muscle growth and veganism go hand in hand. Reduced muscle soreness, fatigue and recovery time are commonly reported, along with a decreased rate of inflammation and injury occurrence after just months of plant-based eating.
A plant-based diet also incorporates a greater amount of healing antioxidants, proteins, as well as essential vitamins and minerals that help the body’s process of muscle synthesis and help shorten recovery after exercise.
Protein sources are varied and rich across a plant based diet, and quinoa, as well as buckwheat, oats, and pumpkin seeds contain all of the essential amino acids required by the body for optimum muscle metabolism.
In the US, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the most prominent athlete to embrace veganism and I had the pleasure of welcoming him and his family to my vegan café here in Doha. Tom credits his plant-based diet for allowing him to play at the level he does today, in his 40s an age bracket when many athletes retire. Tennis star Venus Williams adopted a vegan diet in 2011 after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and she told media recently that she feels stronger than ever. Similarly, Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic decided to go plant-based and he’s currently at the top of his game.
For the mind, high vegetable intake increases the amount of B vitamins in the diet, which have been found to affect mood. Studies have also shown that a vegan nutrition programme can improve health-related quality of life and work productivity.
* The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health.
Instagram handle: @Ghanim92