Mental Athletes and Their Vegan Diets

Everyone knows that physical athletes need the right balance of protein, good fats and vitamins to perform at the highest level, but what about those superstars who work more with their brain than their body? What type of diet do they need to succeed? As you might imagine, it’s not that different (apart from quantity), but there are peculiar twists that some mental athletes have put on their own diet regimen. Take a look at the following big names to see how they use food to power their brainy output and what atypical ingredients they eat on a regular basis. 

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James Cameron – Film Director  

While he isn’t the most famous vegan (we’re saving that one for last), James Cameron is certainly towards the top of the list. The film director has become one of the biggest draws in the movie industry with a range of hits that span multiple genres, such as Aliens, Titanic, True Lies, and Avatar. Next up is a three-film Avatar sequel that will appear starting in 2017. With so much on his plate and long demanding shoots, Cameron’s mental ability needs to stay in peak condition, which is why the director has chosen a vegan diet.

Describing the change as “waking up from a long sleepwalk,” Cameron and his entire immediate family are all vegans now and organic farms can be found at both his California and New Zealand properties. The director’s favorite veggies of tomatoes and avocados are normal, especially considering his home location in California, but there is one thing Cameron cannot stand – cucumbers. He can’t explain the distaste, saying only that he loves pickles, but the raw form disgusts him.

Cameron has also been a force of change for veganism, asking others in the film industry not to change, but to consider the social and environmental impacts of eating meat as well as how switching to a vegan diet could improve their lives. With reigning status as one of the best film directors of our time, it’s hard to doubt Cameron’s mental ability to perform. 


Daniel Negreanu – Poker Player 

If you follow poker even a tiny bit, then you know who Daniel Negreanu is. First in all-time live tournament earnings with just shy of $30 million, Negreanu has become one of the most popular green felt warriors ever to play the game and has branched out to other forms of media with an appearance on The Millionaire Matchmaker and a bit part in X Men Origins: Wolverine.

He is also a vegan that watches his diet and fitness regime very closely. While on The Millionaire Matchmaker, he described his perfect vegan romantic dinner – a tofu mozzarella caprese salad to start, followed by a main dish of grilled veggies and seitan skewers, and a luscious dessert of soy yogurt parfait with granola and strawberries.

Showing his dedication to eating right, Negreanu offered up 100 Euros per day for someone to bring him vegan food twice a day from local restaurant Menton while playing a major event in Monte Carlo in 2012. Rather than being a publicity stunt, the pro simply wanted good food and was willing to pay to get it. As you can imagine, the deal was snatched up pretty quickly and it would appear that all parties were happy with the arrangement. If results have anything to do with his diet, then more poker players should follow Negreanu’s example and go vegan. 


Steve Wynn – Hotel/Casino Entrepreneur

Another name that’s no stranger to the world of casinos and gambling (or veganism) is Steve Wynn. Almost single-handedly responsible for transforming the face of modern Las Vegas, Wynn is an icon among hotel and casino developers and his projects include Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn, Treasure Island, Encore, and many others outside Sin City. Frequently on the list of top CEOs in the world, Wynn renounced meat and has been living a vegan lifestyle since 2010 after a viewing of Mike Anderson’s Eating convinced him that vegan was the way to go.

To prove that he’s walking the walk and not just talking the talk, Wynn backed up his announcement to go vegan by forcing all restaurants at his casino and hotel properties to offer options to diners who do not consume animal products. Chef Tal Ronnen was brought in to consult on the vegan implementation. More than just the standard fare of a steamed vegetable plate, Wynn’s restaurants are also pushing forward vegan cuisine by creating such dishes as chilled heirloom tomato soup, agedashi edamame tofu, and pineapple carpaccio with coconut ice cream and pistachios. In addition, Wynn gave free copies of Eating to his 10,000+ employees to show the harmful nature of eating a meat-heavy diet. 

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Bill Clinton – Politician 

If we’re talking about famous vegans that require heavy mental thought to do their job, then it doesn’t get much bigger than former American president Bill Clinton. Granted, Clinton didn’t switch to veganism until 2010, well after leaving the Oval Office, but the truth is that the politician is still very active and has speaking engagements all over the world. After having serious health problems and changing to a meat-free diet, Clinton says that he feels much better and has had little issues adapting, stating that he no longer had the taste for meat.

For Clinton and many others, one of the main reasons to go vegan is the mental benefits that it affords. Countless people who have made the switch can attest to having more focus, mental clarity for longer periods of time, and a better ability to solve complex problems. In a high pressure job like being a politician, mental clarity is paramount and slacking off after a meat-filled heavy lunch is simply out of the question.

The vegan lifestyle is being adopted by more people than ever and it’s more than just a passing trend. The benefits are a complete package that serve both the body and mind and have given many the ability to focus in professions where using the brain is a must. If you’re in a position that requires deep, insightful thinking and you find yourself tired every day after lunch, maybe it’s time to give a vegan diet a try and perform like one of the people listed above.