Meet the vegan athletes showcasing the power of the plant-based diet
From climbing Mount Everest to pushing the boundaries of the human body, these unrivaled athletes prove veganism is the diet of champions.
A vegan doctor has demolished two muscle-melting Guinness World Records in a testament to the power of a plant-based diet.
Chiropractor Dr. Joe DeMarco performed 15,261 push-ups in eight hours and then kept going for another four hours to complete 21,008.
The 57-year-old former bodybuilder spent months training for the gruelling challenge to raise money for an animal charity.
He said: “I knew this was going to be tough and because of my age, I had a lot of people who doubted I could do it…I never had any doubts.
“If you eat healthy and exercise, you can accomplish anything; age is just a number and we only get old because we let ourselves get old.”
DeMarco used bodyweight training, cardio and breathing techniques to get in shape for his attempt, doing thousands of push-ups a week and losing more than 22 pounds in the process.
However, the US-based doctor said it was also his diet that played an important role in achieving in his record-breaking performance.
In an interview with Plant Based News, he said: “My nutrition was a huge part of my success; I never got run down or depleted, even during days when I was training for six or seven hours.
“I knew I was all set because I eat a 100 percent plant-based diet and have always avoided junk food and don’t drink alcohol.”
DeMarco added that he didn’t eat meat because of his ‘love of animals’, but also believes his vegan diet provided ‘tremendous’ health benefits.
The fundraising challenge took place at MAC Fitness in Gloucester, USA and was streamed on DeMarco’s ‘OrcaMed Health’ YouTube Channel.
It raised more than $7,500 for no-kill organisation Cape Ann Animal Aid, which is dedicated to facilitating the ‘appropriate placement of adoptable animals’.
DeMarco said: “I always felt that even if I didn’t reach my push-up goal, the event was still going to be a big win because of all the donations.
“To me, it was never about the push-ups and the Guinness Record…it was about fundraising.”
Looking back on his marathon session, DeMarco said he tried to minimise his breaks, going two or three hours before taking his first five-minute rest.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing, with the fitness fanatic enduring spasms, cramps, nerves and a host of bodily pain as he pushed himself to the limit.
He said: “I just tried to stay in the moment and continue to focus on each breath and each push up…I tried not to look at the clock to see how many hours I had.
DeMarco added that ‘it was tough’ and by the end he couldn’t even lift his arms, but confirmed that he would be right back to training after taking a few well-deserved days off.
He is now in contact with Guinness about his attempt and is eagerly waiting for his new record to be confirmed.
The current records are 14,444 push ups in eight hours and 20,085 in twelve.
Push up champion Joe DeMarco isn’t alone in his plant-powered feats, with people around the world proving you don’t need meat to achieve great things.
Here we highlight two more vegans who’ve recently flexed their near superhuman grit and physical prowess.
In the ultimate test of endurance and human perseverance, this vegan ultra-runner went head-to-head with a Tesla Model 3.
Braving scorching heat and unforgiving terrain, he jogged more than 242 miles in an attempt to outlast the car’s driving range.
The Tesla made the mammoth journey in three days before running out of charge, with Balenger covering the same distance – plus an extra 100 feet for good measure – in an impressive 77 hours.
Ahead of the race, Balenger said: “As a plant-based athlete, I have two considerations when it comes to my diet…environmentalism and performance.
“Outlasting a Tesla will be the longest single effort I have undertaken; this excited me and terrifies me all at the same time, meaning I must be onto something good.”
This 26-year-old fashion and graphic designer braved an eyewatering 69km journey to become the first known Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Enduring some of the harshest conditions in the world, Varshney reached the peak after five days of climbing and trekking.
After reaching the 8,849-metre-high peak, Varshney marked her victory by taking a celebratory video of herself and some of her team.
She later shared this alongside a heartfelt social media post where she told her followers she’d made it to the highest point on the planet.
Varshney wrote: “I did it guys, I reached the top of the world…it was absolutely the way I imagined it to be, really hard and raw, but I kept telling myself to live it all along the way.
“Thank you to my sherpa, Mingma Dorje for keeping me safe – he is a superhuman man – and thank you mom and dad for making me rock solid and letting me live my dreams.”
The longstanding vegan has already made a name for herself as a meat-free mountaineer, after climbing Nepal’s Ama Dablam in 2021.