Vegan Footy Players You Need to Know About

Posted on by Laura Weyman-Jones

As more people become aware that eating meat, eggs, and dairy “products” causes cruelty to animals as well as health and environmental hazards, we’re seeing an increase in the number of athletes who are fuelling up on plants. You’ve probably already heard about some of the many vegan cricketers, bodybuilders, tennis players, and track stars, but now, we’re turning our attention to plant-powered stars on the footy field. No matter which code you follow – rugby league, rugby union, AFL, or even NFL – there’s a vegan player leading the way.

Erin Phillips

She’s the ultimate athlete, excelling in both AFL and basketball – all while powered by plants! Last year, she received both the AFL Women’s Best and Fairest medal and its Players’ Most Valuable Player Award after an outstanding season with the Adelaide Crows. And although she’s now announced her retirement from playing basketball, she’s continuing in a coaching position for the Dallas Wings.

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Chris Mayne

His skills in the wing playing for Collingwood gained Chis Mayne a lot of respect during the 2018 season. After a difficult 2017 season, Mayne worked on his game and vegan diet in the off season and the results have certainly paid off.

“My diet has been a big part of my transformation, I am looking at trying to be leaner but also find engine run as well,” he told The Age.

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Ben Brown

North Melbourne Kangaroos forward Ben Brown is known for his accuracy between the goal posts and now, he’s scoring points for animals. Discussing his diet on 7AFL he said:

“The good thing about it now is that, you know, I’ve put a lot of time into making sure my diet is really sound which is probably something I wouldn’t have done so much when I was actually eating meat. I am probably more on top of my diet than I have ever been and feeling really good.”

Mitchell Allgood

Allgood – who once ate a whole kilogram of chicken in a “schnitzel challenge” – has this to say about his lifestyle change: “If I can become a vegan anyone can.” The St George Illawarra forward is a force for good in the NRL, encouraging his teammates to make healthier, kinder choices.

“The ethical side is what drives it because if it was just a diet then, like most diets, you would slip up from time to time,” Allgood told

“All the health benefits that come from eating plant-based food has made it even easier to maintain. I have found that it has increased my stamina and I can play longer minutes.”

Mitchell Allgood's photo once hung on the wall of a Sydney restaurant for setting a "schnitzel challenge" record but the…

Posted by St George Illawarra Dragons on Thursday, February 21, 2019

Brad Fittler

Brad is the coach for the State of Origin New South Wales Blues team, but thanks to his plant-strong lifestyle, he still looks fit enough to take a spot on the field.

“I’m vegan, I love it,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “I’m enjoying it …. My energy has been really good.”

Kelly Benson

Hailing from Queensland, Kelly has played on the State of Origin Queensland Maroons team and for Australia at the university level. At the moment, he is signed with reigning premiers Macquarie Scorpionsand also runs the Newcastle Vegan Eatery at the Newcastle City Farmers Market.

“It’s been an amazing journey, totally changed my whole life from my mental clarity to my physical wellness,” he says of his vegan lifestyle.

Brenden Santi

Earlier this year, the rugby league team Townsville Blackhawks prop Brenden Santi sustained a wrist injury. During his rehabilitation, he watched some documentaries, including What the Health, which persuaded him to start eating vegan. He immediately felt good and believes the switch helped him in his recovery:

“The biggest question I get asked is: do you miss meat. Answer is … No. Genuinely no, even surprised myself. You adapt, find alternatives. After that it’s simple. I still go shopping, I still eat balanced meals, I still eat and watch my protein and calorie intake like I used to before – simply they’re just different sources now. Knowledge is power, I certainly feel more powerful. I have made the change permanently, I am a proud beginner vegan.”

I’ve had a lot of people message me. The answer is yes. Yes, I’ve changed to a plant based diet – Have been for 11 weeks now. Why ? 14 weeks ago, I dislocated my wrist. I wasn’t allowed to train for 11 weeks. All I could think about was coming back overweight and unfit at a point of the season I couldn’t afford to be. My girlfriend is a vegan and would cook me vegan meals, that I used to add meat to. I then started to do some research on it. Watch some videos, documentaries (What The Health especially, look it up. I highly recommend, it’s on Netflix!), look up vegan athletes, their experiences, diets..I didn’t think you could sustain an elite career without meat. Seeing the results people had and hearing of the progress they made and also how they were feeling.. I just decided to give it a go. I liked it, felt good, clear minded and I believe it helped me recover quicker. The more I learnt, the easier it got. The biggest question i get asked is: do you miss meat. Answer is… No. Genuinely no, even surprised myself. You adapt, find alternatives. After that its simple. I still go shopping, I still eat balanced meals, I still eat and watch my protein and calorie intake like I used to before – simply they’re just different sources now. Knowledge is power, I certainly feel more powerful. I have made the change permanently, I am a proud beginner vegan 🌱 ✊ #manifest #universe #vegan #vegansinaustralia #beginnervegan #lifestyle #energies #veganathlete #veganrugbyleague #plantbased #inspire #leadbyexample

A post shared by Brenden Santi™ (@santii_13) on Jun 14, 2018 at 2:37am PDT

You can be a plant based athlete. The best thing about being plant based is all that you learn. Learning about nutrition and what is in what, and why. Rugby league is a game that you have to meet certain standards in and atm for me, it’s fitness and putting on weight. At the beginning I wasn’t sure how to eat. I thought vegans only ate vegetables. But now to bulk up I’m eating things I never would’ve used to bulk. Oats Dates Peanut butter Banana Bread Rice Quinoa It’s just so much more easier than I thought it would be. To keep myself interested in my meals and not get bored, I’ve decided I’m going to learn one new recipe a week and document it here. This week, I learnt 3 by meal prepping inspired by @gazoakley of @avantgardevegan We’ve got breakfast – sweet quinoa fruit salad Lunch – vegetable pasta Dinner – Spanish 1 pot stew Snacks – bananas and watermelon with energy balls. Depending on my day I’d add a bowl of oats with banana, berries, nuts and seeds, or more rice to my dinner. All of the meals are balanced and full of superfoods. This week has been the best week of training I’ve had so far. Feeling fit, strong and powerful. My recovery time has been quicker then it’s ever been before. I’m actually in front of schedule, surprisingly happy with my form and I believe that’s partly from becoming vegan. I’m thankful I tried it out now! #vegan #vegansofig #vegansofinstagram #veganrecipes #veganfood #vegans #veganbreakfast #veganfitness #veganathlete #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #veganfit #vegansnacks #veganlifestyle #veganrugby #vegangain #veganbulk #veganmealprep #rugbyleague #veganaustralia #rugbyleagueaustralia #veganprotein

A post shared by Brenden Santi™ (@santii_13) on Jun 20, 2018 at 4:41am PDT

Anthony Mullally

Anthony Mullally is a rugby league superstar and vegan behemoth who plays for Ireland and the Leeds Rhinos. This guy is 6 foot 5 inches and 115 kilograms of unadulterated vegan power.

“After going vegan I felt loads better in terms of energy and recovery from training sessions,” he told Rise of the Vegan. “I found I didn’t even need to drink coffee in the morning before training because I had so much energy. I’m probably as strong as I’ve ever been so there’s definitely been no decline in strength or physical performance!”

Mirco Bergamasco

Italian rugby league and ruby union player Mirco Bergamasco has been vegan for several years and credits plant protein with giving him the energy and strength to excel in his sports:

“Going vegan was one of the best things I’ve done, both for my rugby game and on a personal level. I’m strong and fit, my reflexes are sharp, my mind is awake, and my conscience is clear – I encourage everyone to give meat, eggs, and dairy foods the red card and see the difference for themselves!”

Griff Whalen

As a wide receiver in the NFL, Griff Whalen needs to be one of the most agile players on the field. He began looking into nutrition two years ago and found that a vegan lifestyle made him feel leaner and lighter.

“Any little advantage I can find, I’m going to do it. I felt like this really gave me an edge,” he told Baltimore Ravens.

And he’s not the only one in the NFL crediting vegan eating with athletic success – plenty of other top players are seeing the benefits.

These Players Aren’t the Only Winners – Animals Benefit, Too

By switching to a vegan lifestyle, these plant-fuelled all-stars are improving their health and performance. But they’re not the only ones reaping the rewards – they’re also sparing animals’ lives by standing up for those who face horrific abuse on farms and in abattoirs. They’re actively making animals’ lives better while also improving their own – and you can, too: