Tennis Superstar Novak Djokovic follows a plant-based diet

Novak Djokovic has won an all-time record 23 Grand Slam men’s singles titles in tennis, and has ranked world No 1 for a record total of 389 weeks over a period of 12 different years.  He is the only man in tennis history to be the reigning champion of all four major tournaments at once across three different surfaces. Throughout this period, he has avoided animal foods, although he’s not comfortable with using the term vegan.  

He cut out animal products as a child.  He suffered from allergies that were found to be predominantly related to gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. Once he eliminated these foods he immediately felt better.  Soon after that, he cut out red meat.  He was playing tennis from the age of 4, and as a six-year old he was sent to a tennis camp run by Yugoslav tennis player Jelena Gencic. He began his international tennis career at age 14, winning European championships in singles, double and team competition. He found that animal flesh slowed him down, stating: “Eating meat was hard on my digestion and took a lot of essential energy that I need for my focus, for recovery, for the next training session, and for the next match.”  

These days, he finds it works best for him to start his day with liquid foods – hot water with lemon, celery juice and a green smoothie packed with fruit, algae and supplements.  He claims that this gives him “mental clarity.” For lunch and dinner he generally chooses a salad packed with whole grains, sweet and regular potatoes.   

Djokovic’s continued endorsement of animal-free diets led him to get involved with the 2018 documentary The Game Changers, which espoused the benefits of plant-based eating for men and athletes. Djokovic is just one of many sportspeople challenging the stereotype that you need to eat animal products to successfully compete at sports.