04/23/24 Vegan Women Sweep the Board at the National Competition

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Two female weightlifters won three gold medals each across three disciplines – snatch, clean and jerk, and biathlon – in different bodyweight categories.

- A vegan diet speeds up post-workout recovery and gives above average energy levels

The National Weightlifting Championship was held in the city of Osijek on April 13 and 14, 2024. About a hundred of the best weightlifters from eleven clubs competed individually. Ana Špac, a student of social pedagogy, a volunteer for the Animal Friends Croatia association and a long-time vegan, swept the board and won a gold medal in as many as three disciplines: snatch, clean and jerk, and biathlon, in the category up to 71 kg. Tihana Majer, the representative of the Slavonia Weightlifting Club, member of the national team and also a long-time vegan, competed at the national championship in the category up to 49 kg. She also won three gold medals for the snatch, clean and jerk, and biathlon, earning the title of the third best weightlifter of the competition!

"As a weightlifter, a vegan lifestyle gives me an incredible advantage in my sport. Switching to a plant-based diet has allowed me to make progress that I had never experienced before. I started to recover faster after intense workouts, my body started to build muscle, and finally, after many unsuccessful attempts, I started to gain body mass. Gradually, I managed to add almost 20 kg of muscle mass to my once extremely slender frame!” said Ana Špac.

She added that weightlifting is an extremely strenuous sport that requires maximum strength and speed in a short period of time: “While interacting with other weightlifters, I’ve noticed that I have above-average levels of energy. I feel good knowing that I am nourishing my body with healthy food that supports my athletic goals by allowing me to maximize my body's potential. What makes it even better is the fact that my food choices are not at the expense of someone else's suffering and the destruction of the environment.”

Student Ana has been advocating for the introduction of vegan options in Croatia’s student cafeterias for years. The food offered in student cafeterias is inadequate for the optimal development of a young person, let alone an athlete. Meat, eggs, and dairy products are part of almost all meals despite the constant increase in studies that show the negative effect of these foods on health and despite the needs of many students who, regardless of their diet, also want vegan meals.

"I am proud of my accomplishments, and I attribute them to both my tremendous effort and a vegan diet. If you eat a varied diet – whole foods, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes – you will get everything you need to live well. And more! This has more to do with the inner peace that I discovered after switching to a plant-based diet," said Tihana Majer.

The remarkable achievements of Ana Špac and Tihana Majer confirm current understandings of the benefits of a vegan diet for athletes. The discussion around vegan diets being the secret behind the success of professional athletes has gained momentum, with an additional push by the acclaimed documentary The Game Changers. Notable vegan athletes include: Lewis Hamilton, Clarence Kennedy, Demetris Nichols, Scott Jurek, Patrik Baboumian, Hannah Teter, Héctor Bellerín, Nate Diaz, Rich Roll, and Tia Blanc.

Ana Špac [ 313.57 Kb ]

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