The Guinness World Records have started to pay attention to the rise of veganism among top elite professional athletes. In response to this rising trend following The Game Changers documentary, the GWR has published a blog post of 11 record-breaking athletes with plant-based diets.
What sets this list apart from other lists of vegan athletes is the fact that each of the nominated athletes has, or has had, a Guinness World Record.
The tennis sisters Serena and Venus Williams have been dominant forces in women’s tennis for over a decade. Serena holds the female records for the most Grand Slam singles titles won (an astonishing 23) and for the oldest person ranked number one (aged 35 years 124 days). For good measure, she also holds the record for the most followers on Twitter by an athlete (currently 10.9 million).
Venus meanwhile holds the records for the most singles tournaments played (73). The sisters both hold the records for most Olympic tennis gold medals won by an individual (4).
Venus Williams adopted a raw vegan diet following her diagnosis with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease, in 2001 which threatened to derail her tennis career entirely. But going raw vegan “changed everything” according to Venus. “It definitely changed my whole life. It changed the pace that I live at” she said.
The Guinness World Records states that Serena also tried a raw vegan diet at the same time, but neither of them pursues this any longer.
The blog casts into some doubt just how strict the sisters are about their diet but it is made clear that they are both “still largely plant-based when in training”.
Featured athletes in the Game Changers
Many of the athletes included in the list were in fact featured in the documentary itself, namely :
- Patrik Baboumian, the strongman from Germany. He holds the world record for the heaviest yoke carried over 10 metres (555.2 kg / 1,224 lbs). Previously he held the world record for the longest duration holding a 20kg weight with outstretched arms;
- Nate Diaz whose victory fight over Conor McGregor was featured in the documentary. Diaz actually follows a raw vegan diet while training. His world record is for the “most significant strikes landed during a UFC match”;
- Arnold Schwarzenegger who holds the Guinness World Records title for longest time between Mr Olympia titles, and the most films made by a bodybuilder (47 films between 1970 and 2017);
- Lewis Hamilton, the current Formula One world champion, who holds 12 Guinness World Records including the most consecutive Formula One Grand Prix starts, and most Formula One pole positions in his career. Hamilton is a very vocal proponent of a plant-based diet and attributes a great deal of his success to it;
- Dotsie Bausch, an eight-time U.S. national cycling champion, a two-time Pan American gold medallist, and an Olympic silver medallist. She previously held the Guinness World Record for the fastest cycling women’s team 3 km standing start with her USA teammates Sarah Hammer and Lauren Tamayo.
Other Guinness World Record athletes
Fiona Oakes from England runs Vegan Runners. An accomplished marathon runner, Oakes holds the female records for:
- the fastest aggregate time to complete a marathon on each continent and the North Pole;
- the fastest aggregate time to complete a marathon on each continent; and
- the fastest Antarctic Ice Marathon.
Dana Glowacka from Canada was featured. She holds the record for the longest time in an abdominal plank position (female). She smashed the existing record by holding the pose for a staggering 4 hours 19 minutes and 55 seconds.
Neil Robertson, the Australian snooker player became vegan in 2014, encouraged by fellow vegan snooker player Peter Ebdon. He holds the record for most century breaks in a snooker season. He accumulated 103-century breaks in 22 tournaments during the 2013–14 snooker season.
Finally, the iconic track and field athlete Carl Lewis makes the Guinness List. Carl Lewis went vegan in 1990 and went on to win the 1991 World Championships 100m final, setting a new world record. “My best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet… I had my best year as an athlete ever!”
Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals and broke multiple records for the 100m, 200m and the long jump.
His record for the long jump (farthest long jump – male -indoors), still stands today at 8.79 m (28 ft 10.06 in).