Happy New Year ICG! During the holidays I stumbled upon this great article written by The Vegan Strong Team, so I decided to share this article for my first blog
I went home to Oregon with my laptop and iPad, and over the course of 9 days, I never took them out of my backpack. That stretch of 9 days is likely the longest I have gone without turning on my computer in two decades. It sounds strange to say that, and looks weird to write it, but I think it's true. I didn't even send a single email from my phone during that time, nor did I make a single social media post. I stopped shipping Vegan Strong clothing items on Christmas Eve, stopped promoting products, and completely unplugged from my usual computer and technology-centric world of sales, promotions, and fulfilling orders. Instead, I was present with my family and friends, and embraced a new direction I'm heading in that doesn't involve the regular sales, promos, and shipping packages. It's amazing how much time it has freed up, though I already miss aspects of the routine I had been in for so many years. As many of you read from my last newsletter, I made a big announcement just before going offline. A bunch of you replied, which I appreciate, but I was scrambling to fulfill orders before the holidays, and then went absent from my computer for a week and a half, and I'm just now slowly getting back in front of my laptop to reply to your messages. I'll catch up soon, but today I want to share this article I wrote for No Meat Athlete, which I am previewing here. I'm sure it still needs some finishing touches before they decide whether to publish it or not, but this is my list of ten plant-based athletes who left their mark on 2019. I hope you enjoy it. 10 Plant-Based Athletes Who Crushed It in 2019 Written by Robert Cheeke It’s no secret that 2019 was the year of the plant-based athlete. After all, it was the year that the highly anticipated plant-based athlete documentary, The Game Changers, was finally released to rave reviews from audiences that had been chomping at the bit for years. It was also in 2019 when we learned that some of the world’s greatest athletes follow a plant-based diet, as well as many of the world’s most famous athletes, such as Alex Morgan, co-captain of the US Women’s World Cup winning soccer team. As it turns out, arguably the world’s best and most famous male soccer player, Lionel Messi, also follows a plant-based diet. Plant-based athletes stretch far beyond the soccer field though, and make their way onto the tennis courts, racetracks, football fields, and in NBA basketball arenas across the country. Runners, bodybuilders, weight lifters, and athletes from all stripes seem to be leaning toward plants for optimal athletic performance more than ever before. Even if they don’t go all the way to becoming fully vegan, such as the plant-centered diet Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady follows, the benefits and results appear to be evident. The fact that there are TV commercials promoting plant-based products and plant-based diets, during the most watched sporting events, such as Beyond Meat’s Carl’s Jr. Super Bowl commercial of 2019, Kyrie Irving’s Nike/plant-based diet commercial during the 2019 college football national championship game, and the Impossible Burger commercial for Burger King played during pretty much every NBA basketball game I watch, set the stage to make the past year one to remember as a turning point, perhaps leading to a future tipping point. This past year was not just the year that we discovered a whole bunch of world class athletes who had (in some cases) been quietly/secretly following a plant-based diet for athletic performance benefits, trying to out-strategize their omnivorous counterparts, but also the year that many world class athletes were inspired to adopt a plant-based diet. That means 2020 will be full of brand new elite plant-based athletes from myriad sports in all corners of the world. Some big-name retired athletes have recently gone plant-based like former Tour de France champion, Chris Froome, and Iron Addicts legend, C.T. Fletcher, but retired athletes have long been drawn to a plant-based diet for improved health, so that’s not much of a surprise. The impact, as I see it, often comes from those who are currently competing at a high level in sports who go plant-based and can demonstrate measurable changes in their athletic performance. We’ve seen that for years in mixed martial arts, running, bodybuilding, weightlifting, tennis, football, and basketball, and with many athletes, especially those in the NBA, opting for plant-based fuel for their sports endeavors, 2020 should be another year for the record books. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, and instead, let’s reflect back on the epic year for the plant-based athlete that was 2019. Many readers likely know the common benefits of a plant-based diet on athletic performance, namely, increased energy, reduced inflammation, and improved recovery, which brings so many athletes to the plant-based diet in the first place, so let’s get right to it and learn who crushed it in 2019.
These are my Top 10 Plant-Based Athletes who absolutely crushed it in 2019:
#10: Natalie Matthews. Natalie, a bikini competitor in one of the divisions within the larger bodybuilding and fitness industry, turned pro in 2018 within the IFBB (International Federation of Body Builders) as one of the top bikini competitors in the world. In 2019, she competed across the country, placing as high as 4th in an Olympia-qualifying pro show at the Battle at the Falls in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, just one spot behind three-time world champion, Ashley Kaltwasser. Natalie also placed 7th at the IFBB Indy Pro in Indianapolis, Indiana in her first full season as an IFBB Pro. Her bikini division is the most popular, and therefore most competitive, of any category within the bodybuilding industry. In addition to being one of the world’s top bikini competitors, Natalie is a former professional surfer, and is a professional chef and cookbook author. If 2019 was any indication of what to expect from Natalie in the future, it’s a good bet that 2020 will be even more epic for the Puerto Rican chef turned world renowned fitness model. For more information about Natalie, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @fitveganchef or on www.fitveganchef.com.
#9: Torre Washington. Torre is a champion bodybuilder and physique competitor at the highest level, and he has been either a vegetarian or vegan nearly his entire life. He earned his IFBB professional status in 2018, and competed throughout the past year, placing as high as 3rd at the first fully drug-tested IFBB Pro show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He also finished 4th at the Muscle Contest in Los Angeles, California. Along with his top 5 finishes at the most prestigious level of professional bodybuilding, within the most competitive category of men’s physique, Torre also traveled the world promoting the plant-based athlete lifestyle from Australia to Mexico. He is a sought after personal trainer, eBook author, coach, and international public speaker. Torre is also featured in the film, From The Ground Up, and he has become one of the most influential vegan bodybuilders in the world. For more information about Torre, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @torre.washington or on www.torrewashington.com.
#8: Nimai Delgado. Though Nimai, an IFBB pro physique competitor, didn’t compete in any competitions in 2019, what he was able to accomplish off the bodybuilding stage was remarkable. Nimai is one of the stars of the acclaimed documentary, The Game Changers, is the host of The Generation V Podcast, a co-founder of VeganFitness.com, an international public speaker, and his popularity and influence catapulted in 2019. Nimai boasts more than half a million followers on Instagram alone, and hosts his own Vegan Fitness Retreats, along with his partner, Bianca Taylor, in exotic locations throughout the world such as Bali, Indonesia and Mexico. He even launched his own line of nutrition products, a meal delivery service in the UK, and has clothing sponsors. At times I wonder, “Is there anything Nimai can’t do?” Nimai didn’t need the competition stage to crush it over the past year. Nimai essentially became the face of the vegan bodybuilding movement, and has carried the torch with confidence and compassion, ushering a new era of plant-based athletes. He also just turned 30, and many of his recent accomplishments were attained in his twenties. This bodes well for a bright future for Vegan Bodybuilding, and for Nimai’s diverse fitness career. For more information about Nimai, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @nimai_delgado, or on www.veganfitness.com.
#7: Liz Cambage. Liz is a professional basketball player in the WNBA, as an all-star center for the Las Vegas Aces. Following her exceptional 2018 season, where she set a WNBA scoring record with 53 points scored in a single game, she returned to the WNBA all-star game in 2019 and led her team to the post season playoffs. In addition to being a three-time WNBA all-star, Liz was also named to the 2019 All-WNBA Second Team, and she finished the season ranked 10th in the league in scoring, 7th in rebounding, and 6th in blocked shots. Liz not only had another breakout basketball season, but she also had a breakout year as an international star when she graced the cover of ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue. Her six foot eight-inch, 216-pound frame was displayed on the cover of ESPN Magazine’s most anticipated issue of the year, where famous athletes from the NFL, NBA, WTA, MLB, MLS, WNBA and others pose nude or semi-nude, showing their professional athlete bodies in tasteful ways. This past year was the 11th year of the ESPN Magazine Body Issue. Liz joins previous cover models that include hugely famous athletes such as Serena Williams, Adrian Peterson, Megan Rapinoe, and Diana Taurasi (who, along with Serena, is also a plant-based athlete). Liz is a part of a growing group of WNBA and NBA players who have adopted a plant-based diet. Other notable plant-based basketball stars include Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, JaVale McGee, DeAndre Jordan, and the aforementioned, Diana Taurasi. For more information about Liz, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @ecambage or on www.twitter.com/ecambage.
#6: Morgan Mitchell. Morgan, and Olympic sprinter, is another star of the blockbuster film, The Game Changers, and she had an incredible 2019 season on the track. Between distances of 200 and 1,600 meters, she racked up three 1st place finishes, and a whopping 13 top 3 finishes. She also won multiple relay races and had four top 3 finishes in the 4 x 400 meter team relay. In addition to her native Australia, Morgan competed around the world, taking her talents to China, Italy, Great Britain, France, Qatar, Japan, and the United States. With the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics around the corner, keep an eye out for Morgan to crush it in 2020 too. For more information about Morgan, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @morganmitch or on www.teammathewsrunning.com.au.
#5: Hin Chun Chui. Hin is a vegan bodybuilder, and is quickly emerging as one of the most successful and dominant competitive bodybuilders in the industry. He had an absolutely incredible year in 2019, winning 6 first place trophies, following a year of taking home gold 6 times in 2018. Competing around the world, promoting the vegan bodybuilding lifestyle, Hin has become an international star. Winning the IFBB Denmark Pro Nordic World Show in multiple divisions, as well as the IFBB Canada Ben Weider Natural Championship in physique and in bodybuilding, and the IFBB Asia Pro Qualifier Taiwan in two divisions at the end of December capped off an outstanding year for Hin taking on the world stage. With twelve first place finishes, including multiple world championships over the past to years, and only in his early twenties, Hin has an incredibly bright future in the sport of bodybuilding and beyond. For more information about Hin, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @vegan_bodybuilder_hin_chui or on www.cleanmachineonline.com.
#4: Robbie Balenger. Robbie is an ultra endurance athlete, best known for his 3,175-mile run across the United States over the course of 75 days from March to May of 2019. That’s a minimum of running 40 miles per day for 75 consecutive days, at an average of 42.3 miles covered daily, with no days off, which is unimaginable for most people. Not only did he run from Los Angeles to New York in two and a half months, he did it largely to raise awareness of the power of a plant-based diet. Robbie’s transcontinental run was sponsored by the Texas-based vegan ice cream company, Nada Moo, and his effort raised awareness of the dairy-free lifestyle at large. Robbie appeared on the Rich Roll Podcast at the end of 2019, reaching a vast audience, sharing his unique journey across the country. For more information about Robbie, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @robbiebalenger or on www.plantpoweredmission.com. #3. Lewis Hamilton. Lewis is a Formula One race car driver, considered to be one of the greatest of all-time in the sport. He is a six-time Formula World Champion driving a Mercedez on race tracks around the world. In 2019, he seemed to be winning races around every turn. Lewis took the first place crown a record 11 times, including in four consecutive races, and six out of seven consecutive starts. He brought home the title from racetracks in Bahrain, China, Spain, Monaco, Canada, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Russia, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi. Lewis uses his platform, including his Instagram audience of almost 14 million followers, to promote a plant-based diet. As an executive producer of The Game Changers, Lewis made a big splash in 2019 among a plant-based community largely previously unaware of his accomplishments on the racetrack. He speaks out for animals and the environment, and crosses over into various other ventures beyond the racetrack, including fashion. Lewis set an all-time record in Formula 1 racing with 413 points and 17 podiums in 2019, with his sights set on a bright racing season in 2020. For more information about Lewis, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @lewishamilton or on www.lewishamilton.com.
#2. Novak Djokovic. Novak is the number one ranked men’s tennis player in the world. In 2019, he lived up to the #1 world ranking by winning five tournaments, including the Australian Open, Madrid Open, Japan Open, Paris Masters, and the prestigious Wimbledon title in epic fashion over Roger Federer in one of the greatest championship matches in history. With a 57-11 singles record, and more than $13 million in tournament earnings in 2019, we can safely say that Novak crushed it last year. Like Lewis Hamilton, Novak is also an executive producer of The Game Changers and has used his platform to encourage others to adopt a plant-based diet. The sport of tennis is no stranger to plant-based athletes. Venus and Serena Williams have dominated the sport for decades, and for the past ten years they have followed a mostly or exclusively plant-based diet. Martina Navratilova is considered to be one of the greatest female tennis players of all-time and is a long-time vegetarian. Novak adds his name to the list of highly successful professional tennis champions who embrace a plant-based diet. As the year, and the decade came to a close, Novak was named the ATP’s Men’s Tennis Player of the Decade. For more information about Novak, and to see how he crushed it in 2019, follow him on Instagram at @djokernole or on www.novakdjokovic.com.
#1. Alex Morgan. Alex is the co-captain of the US Women’s World Cup Champion soccer team, and she uplifted an entire nation with her performance in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. As arguably the most popular athlete of the year, with her summer spent in the global spotlight, this plant-based athlete World Cup champ is my 2019 Plant-Based Athlete of the Year. Alex not only let her skill on the soccer field do the talking, but she graced magazine covers, appeared on television shows, and won awards all year as the quintessential champion of champions. Alex provided inspiration to an entire gender, and entire nation, and to the world at large on the biggest stage in the world’s most popular sport. Fueled by plants, Alex has established herself as one of the greatest of all-time in her sport and will remain a sports icon for years to come. It comes at no surprise that Alex made the TIME 100 Most Influential People list for 2019. Like Torre, Alex was also featured in the plant-based athlete documentary, From The Ground Up. With her long list of accolades and awards, perhaps her most exciting news of 2019 was announced in October when she and her husband shared the news that they are expecting a baby girl in April. For more information about Alex, and to see how she crushed it in 2019, follow her on Instagram at @alexmorgan13 or on www.alexmorgansoccer.com.
Thanks for reading! Happy New Year Iron Core Gym Members. PUSH YOUR LIMITS, ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL, NEVER GIVE UP & STAY IRON STRONG!