Here are a few prominent athletes who have made headlines because of their plant-based diets:
Michaela Copenhaver: Lightweight rower Copenhaver finished first in 2015 in the quad and doubles competitions at USRowing’s national championships, and she took second place in the world championship trials. (She didn’t get one of the two spots available in her division for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.) Vegan since 2012, Copenhaver claims she now has to sacrifice less to keep her weight in proper range, saying in a 2015 interview, “The sheer volume that I eat compared to other lightweight rowers is fabulous.”
Meagan Duhamel: Canadian figure skater Duhamel, an Olympic silver medalist, adopted a vegan diet in 2008. In a 2016 interview with CBC Sports, she said she felt her diet had improved her training, focus and recovery. Her stats, working with skating partner Eric Radford, have improved as well, as the pair has risen from finishing seventh in the 2010 world championships to first in 2015.
Kendrick Farris: A three-time Olympian in weightlifting who competed for the United States in the 2016 Games in Rio, Farris became a vegan in 2014. He set an American record in his weight class in May, lifting a combined 831 pounds. He finished 11th in Rio.
Scott Jurek: Crediting his plant-based diet for his stamina, ultrarunner Jurek recorded the fastest time to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2015, traveling 2,189 miles in 46 days. After becoming vegan in 1999, Jurek won the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run on his first attempt, going on to win it again for the next six years.
Carl Lewis: One of the best track and field athletes of all time, 10-time Olympic medalist Lewis, now 55, told Oprah Winfrey in 2012 that he set several of his personal bests after changing to a vegetarian and vegan diet in his late 20s. Although he had set a world record of 9.92 seconds in the 100-meter race in the 1988 Olympics, as a vegan he ran what he called “the best race of my life” in 1991 at the Tokyo World Championships, setting a record at 9.86 seconds.