Veganism is becoming more popular as people are starting to see the health benefits of not eating meat. Some boxers have been experimenting with vegan diets for a while, but there are now more vegan boxers than ever before.
The Netflix documentary ‘The Game Changers’ was a big influence, but some boxers have been championing plant-based diets even before this. Below, you’ll see which big names switched from a regular boxer’s diet plan to one that was completely vegan and how it affected their performance.
David Haye was one of the first vegan boxers having gone full vegan back in 2014. He did so after watching the documentary Earthlings which shows how animals are farmed and decided to change his diet after this.
Being a heavyweight boxer, he still had to maintain his large calorie intake as he found himself losing weight fast after becoming vegan.
Haye said that it wasn’t just his athletic performance that improved, but also his skin, nails, and hair too. His diet consists of a lot of vegan protein shakes, lentils, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, lots of carbohydrates basically. Although he makes sure to stay away from bread most of the time.
You can listen to his story in this short video with the charity PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Heavyweight boxer Bryan Jennings has been vegan since 2015 and before that, he was a strict vegetarian. He featured in ‘The Game Changers’ documentary that we mentioned discussing his journey of becoming vegan and how he has felt since.
Jennings is a big advocate of a vegan diet and has amassed thousands of followers on social media. This is also what he had to say to The Guardian before his fight with Rivas:
“I was a vegetarian before that, but I became a vegan for health reasons, based on particular additives and ingredients in food,”
“I just thought healthy eating, clean eating was much better. And it really has been great for me.”
Here’s an interview with Jennings in which he discusses being vegan
See Jennings’ homemade vegan burgers recipe in the video below:
Lawrence Okolie is the most recent vegan boxer to become a boxing world champion. He beat Krzysztof Glowacki in 2021 to become the Cruiserweight World Champion.
Ever since he turned pro he has maintained a vegan diet and says that it has helped him reach the level he’s at now. He claims that it helps him maintain his weight and even gives him more energy compared to a meat diet.
Okolie even stressed to Anthony Joshua to change to a vegan diet to improve his energy levels. We’ll discuss Joshua more later in this article as he also follows a vegan diet at times.
Melanie Fraunschiel is an Austrian female vegan boxer who started on a fully plant-based diet in 2014. She made the switch from karate to boxing in 2010 and has won many medals since making the change.
Like Jennings, she was also a vegetarian before becoming fully vegan but decided to cut out dairy products too for health reasons.
She found it easier to maintain her weight which for a boxer can be hard when you’re not training for a fight. You just have to look at the shape Ricky Hatton and Tyson Fury used to get in when they were in the offseason.
Like David Haye, Fraunschiel said it isn’t just her energy levels that improved, but also the condition of her skin and hair.
Former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua doesn’t always follow a strict vegan diet, but he claims to before fights. In these periods, he says that he starts his day with a big bowl of oats for slow-release energy. Then, he eats sweet potatoes, rice, falafel, and vegetables for lunch, dinner, and other meals in the day.
He stated all this in his documentary ‘The Calm Before the Storm’ which he posted on YouTube in 2018 before his fight with Joseph Parker.
Whilst he’s not fully vegan, Joshua knows the benefits of eating a diet that doesn’t include only meat. This is why he sometimes eats this way before fights to increase his energy levels.
You can watch the documentary that we mentioned below.
Mike Tyson wasn’t a vegan during his boxing career, but since retiring he made the change for health reasons. Tyson was one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time, but he had a problem with drugs once his career was over. It was for this reason that he decided to change his diet and follow a plant-based one.
He was a vegan for 5 or 6 years but has now gone back to eating some meat, mainly focusing on wild meats not farmed animals.
Timothy Bradley who took on one of the best southpaw boxers of all time, Manny Pacquaio three times in his career was also a vegan at the time. Whilst he didn’t go fully vegan straight away he saw the benefits of it and decided to maintain it when necessary.
He focused on eating vegetables, nuts, tofu, fruits, and other vegan foods. It was this that helped his performance but also helped to clear his mind.
The former welterweight champion did eat meat before his fight with Diego Chaves in 2014 mainly to experiment to see what worked best for him. He did say that his vegan diet helped give him more energy but liked to mix things up sometimes to see how his body would react.
What does a typical vegan boxer diet look like?
As you’ve seen when mentioning these vegan boxers, there are some main foods that they all eat. The focus is on still eating a lot of calories to maintain weight so going heavy on carbohydrates is vital. Legumes, nuts, vegetables, rice, and vegan protein shakes are just some of the foods that you’ll find in a vegan boxer’s diet.