Olympic Medalist April Ross Says Going Vegan Actually Made Her Stronger

Photo: Joe Scarnici / Getty

The main concern for meat-eaters who are considering going vegan is that they're going to feel weaker. But April Ross, an Olympic volleyball player who is mostly vegan, has never felt better.

She never thought she could go vegan because of how much physical activity she does. But then, during her last off-season, she started experimenting with a plant-based diet, and she found that she didn't miss meat at all—and neither did her body.

"I'm at my strongest," she told Beyond Meat, a brand that produces plant-based meat alternatives—including a burger that "bleeds" vegetable juice. (Full disclosure: Ross is an ambassador of the brand.)

She said she was nervous her diet might not be robust enough to fuel her intense training schedule of five or six days on the sand plus lifting, but Ross has found that she's more powerful than ever before.

"I'm at my lowest weight I've maybe ever been while playing beach volleyball, and I'm at my strongest," she explained. "So, my power-to-weight ratio is the highest it's ever been." This ratio is critical for high-endurance athletes like Ross, as it determines how efficiently they generate force.

The first time I saw ESPN's Body Issue I knew I wanted to be in it. At the same time, I REALLY thought I'd never get the chance. Like most, I've struggled with my body image. It's been years of cultivating a positive attitude, feeding the "good wolf", learning to fully accept my body despite any imperfections I might see, that has gotten me to this point. Our bodies are AMAZING. I love how sport helps us realize this. Thank you ESPN for recognizing it and choosing me to be apart of the celebration! Huge shout out to my agent @kagawacolas for making this dream a reality for me! And beyond grateful for the vision and creation of @williamshirakawa 📸❤️ #NOphotoshopallowed #ESPN #bodyissue Please read the article, it's in my bio!

A post shared by April Ross (@aprilrossbeach) on

"I have energy, and I can last all week, and I feel great," she said.

Ross has also been staying away, for the most part, from dairy products. She starts her day with "tea and water with fresh lemon squeezed in it," she told PopSugar. And she usually follows this with a breakfast of oatmeal mixed with almond milk, cinnamon, bananas, blueberries, and dates.

She snacks throughout the day on fruits, nuts, and Gatorade, and enjoys an acai or pitaya bowl for lunch.

For dinner, Ross and her husband get "creative" in the kitchen and are "always on the hunt for new vegan recipes."

Well, rumor has it that the Rio Olympic Village cafeteria will be "bigger than two football fields," so hopefully, there will be enough vegan fare for Ross to chow down on. And, with "40 varieties of Brazil's exotic fruits like caju, acai, carambola, caqui, goiaba and maracuja, often squeezed into Brazil's famously delicious juices," it seems like there will be.

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