Excerpts from a recent interview by Belsandia with our good friend (and 2010 Veggie Dog Contestant!) Robert Cheeke…
What prompted you to become vegetarian and then vegan respectively? You grew up on a farm – how did that influence your decision and how did your family react?
Robert: My family raised animals and showed them at county fairs, but I didn’t really make the connection that these same animals would become our food.
Then in December 1995, my older sister Tanya organized an Animal Rights week in our school where they showed material about animal testing, factory farming, etc. She influenced me and since I wanted to help her with the event, I became vegan right there and then, at 16 years old. I never looked back from that day on.
My parents come from an animal science background and actually promote animal businesses. At first there wasn’t much support or understanding for our vegan diet. My parents were originally concerned about our health, but over the years they became more supportive. Nowadays they promote my work, and even wear vegan t-shirts! They also eat more vegetarian foods now.
You Started Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness in 2002. What does this company do for athletes, and do you cater soley to those who are already vegetarian or vegan?
Robert: The largest percentage of my audience at Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness is already vegan, and wants to stay health, build muscle, gain weight, and compete. I am also reaching out to many other athletes. Leading by positive example and living meaningful is what drives me to do this.
Many historic greats like Gandhi and Marting Luther King Jr. have led by positive example, and I am trying to do my part with the best of my conscience.
I used to associate being vegan with being skinny, scrawny, weak, and risky. This is all not true, but many people simply don’t know it. I became an amateur bodybuilder and when I started my website veganbodybuilding.com, I was the only vegan athlete that I knew of. But once the website was launched vegan athletes suddenly came from everywhere and started using the website. There were so many of them already and this was fantastic.
The website caters to everybody though. People of all lifestyles visit the site to get information, read news, and share training updates, etc., for more than four years now. Many people I spoke to became vegan after connecting with the website.
Can you give your fitness advice and most important tips that you recommend for kick-start for vegan bodybuilding?
Robert: The most important thing in vegan bodybuilding is that you are honest to yourself,don’t cheat! I had people tell me that the vegan diet doe not work for them, but at a closer look they did not stick to the plan or had no definitive goals. It is key to be accountable and consistent with your goals.
Eat real food, not just supplements! Make good choices and be very clear about your objectives. Don’t make excuses and don’t become and unhealthy vegan. Be very specific about what you want to attain and write down your goals.
Keep a journals for your nutrition and training – the forum at veganbodybuilding.com has a section you can use for that.
Find someone as a role model who you can look up to and follow. Keep track of what they are doing. You can look at my website Robert Cheeke or Brendan Brazier’s website and his Thrive diet for more vegan bodybuilding tips.
So, be honest to yourself, make a good plan, and eat real food!