Plant based diets are becoming more commonplace around the world and that’s also true in the case of professional sportspeople. Here is a list of vegetarian and vegan cricketers.
Top Vegetarian Cricketers
Former Indian captain and world class batter Virat Kohli starts us off. His story is an interesting one and he suggests that his health was transformed after he weaned himself off animal products.
Kohli said that his body was producing too much acid. He was taking medication, but this was causing some unpleasant side effects. After turning to a vegetarian diet, he said ‘I’ve never felt better in my life’. Kohli tells us that he feels lighter and has more energy, and those are benefits that many plant based advocates have claimed.
Former Indian international pace bowler Ishant Sharma made the change to a vegetarian diet after he saw chickens being poorly treated at a market. It made an impact on his outlook and the change was almost instant.
He also said that he was a dog lover and saw no difference between having a pet dog or a chicken. From that point onwards, Ishant stopped eating meat.
Growing up in Gujarat, Hardik Pandya was introduced to a vegetarian diet from a very young age. Vegetarian dishes are described as his comfort food and rice and ghee are said to be his favourites.
Recently, Hardik has avoided meat completely and is now on a strict vegetarian diet for health reasons. He’s entering the most effective stage of his career and his greatest domestic success came in 2022 as he led the Gujarat Titans to the IPL title in their debut season.
Indian spinner R Ashwin has to be the longest serving vegetarian on this list. According to some reports, he’s been plant based almost since birth. He tried eating chicken, just for nutritional purposes, but his family didn’t persevere with any meat options.
He still consumes eggs, so he isn’t a strict vegan, but Ashwin has avoided meat products for a very long time. Over his career, the spinner has been one of India’s most effective players across the three formats. He already has more than 650 international wickets to his name and he’s also scored five test centuries.
Indian batter Cheteshwar Pujara describes himself as a pure vegetarian and this term can cross over into veganism. What we do know is that he focuses on a plant based diet and that he also looks to avoid spicy food.
It’s an approach that works and it’s claimed that he puts his achievements down to his diet. The veteran is closing in on 100 tests and he’s made 19 centuries in this format.
Shikhar Dhawan is one of those players who always seems to have a positive attitude out on the field. So, when he claimed that a meat eating diet was bringing negativity into his life, it’s not a surprise to learn that he switched to vegetarianism.
Dhawan made the change fairly recently, in 2018. Since then he’s enjoyed some of his best performances in the IPL and for the Indian limited overs sides.
Famous Vegan Cricketers
A former Australian captain and a regular in the side for much of the 1970s and early 1980s, Greg Chappell was one of the first cricketers to go vegan. He made the change after losing his father to a heart attack in 1984.
Chappell’s change to plant based options came fairly late in his career, but he seemed to pave the way for a number of his countrymen to make a similar switch.
Australian quick Kane Richardson has been knocking on the door of international cricket for some time. He has represented his country, but has yet to really nail down a regular place in the side.
Richardson is another vegan cricketer. The story tells us that he made his choice after driving past a field of lambs. They reminded him of his pet dog and he’s since stopped consuming animal products.
Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie decided to go vegan in 2014, shortly after losing his father to a heart attack. He wanted a more healthy lifestyle and one that could help to guard against various conditions.
He enjoyed a long career on the pitch and has since become one of the most respected coaches on the circuit.
Aussie leg spinner Adam Zampa is famously vegan. He credits his partner and his father with the shift to the plant based option and he now keeps pet goats.
Zampa has become a regular player in international limited overs cricket and he’s featured in the IPL and other franchise competitions.
Former Australian international fast bowler Peter Siddle was introduced to a plant based diet by his partner Anna. She simply refused to cook animal products at home and he initially fell in with the process.
Siddle would certainly say that this healthier approach has helped his career. At the age of 38, he’s still playing Big Bash cricket while representing domestic teams around the world.
England women’s off spinner Mady Villiers is another player who has spoken openly about her switch to a plant based diet. She’s a fairly recent convert and made her choice after watching a series of YouTube seminars about the dairy industry.
Villiers claims a number of benefits that have helped to enhance her performances on the field. In particular, she feels that her body can now recover far more quickly after a game.
Can we conclude anything specific from this list? Has a plant based diet helped these players become better in their specific disciplines? It’s all about personal choice and many of you reading this will either be vegan or vegetarian.
It’s interesting to note why the individual players have turned away from meat products. Some have done it for health reasons, while others have become plant based due to the poor treatment of animals.
There will certainly be other players around the world who are vegetarian or vegan. Not everyone tends to publicise their diet and there must surely be more cricketers to add from England, West Indies, Pakistan, South Africa and elsewhere.
Maybe we’ll be able to add more in the future as this shift to plant based options becomes more widespread.