Robert Cheeke may be one of the most positive people out there. I have literally never heard or read one negative statement about him and everyone I know who has met him raves about his infectious personality. Robert exemplifies the kind of person I want to be surrounded by.
Robert has also built one heck of a following through his Vegan Bodybuilding website (click HERE to check it out). Easily on of the most famous vegan bodybuilders, Robert has build his career showing people that you do not have to eat meat to be strong. When Robert began bodybuilding it was unheard of to eat a plant-based diet and bodybuild. Boy did he change people’s minds. Because of Robert and others like him the vegan diet is worming its way into athletics.
Meet Robert Cheeke…
Chic Vegan – What motivated you to become vegan and was it an overnight switch or more gradual shift?
Robert Cheeke – I grew up on a farm and developed an appreciation for farm animals similar to the respect and appreciation someone might have for a dog or a cat. Given this perspective and my closeness to animals – raising them as pets – through my involvement in 4-H, it seemed fitting to stop eating my animal friends. In the mid 90’s, as a teenager, I no longer wanted to contribute to animal cruelty and suffering and decided to go vegan. I have been vegan since December 8, 1995 (when I was 15 years old and 120 pounds – By 2003, I was up to 195 pounds and a competitive bodybuilder running www.veganbodybuilding.com).
CV – Tell me a little bit about Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness and what inspired you to create it.
RC – As a scrawny teenager, turned vegan who developed a passion for lifting weights, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness was a natural destination for me. Seven years after becoming vegan and just three years after discovering my interest in bodybuilding, I founded Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness and www.veganbodybuilding.com in 2002. We turn 10 years old this year and it has been a rewarding journey and I’m grateful for the opportunity to turn my passion into a career. Our website has thousands of articles and photos, various products including clothing, books, DVDs, hundreds of profiles featuring successful vegan athletes, and we have an active vegan athlete forum which has spanned nearly the full decade, bringing many people together. It has been a popular resource for beginners, elite athletes, and celebrities alike.
CV – You are easily one of the most recognizable faces in vegan bodybuilding and a huge advocate for veganism in general. Are there any new projects you are working on?
RC – These days I’m actually going in a different direction than I’ve been moving in for the past decade or so. I’m actually taking a step back out of the spotlight to live a quieter life, under the radar. My new focus is writing, not bodybuilding. I’ve taken a break from training in general and these days I spend time traveling, visiting with friends and family, and writing articles for various publications. I do have a new book in the works, but there is no time table for its completion. I enjoy the writing process, unconcerned with the completion time. When it is ready, I hope it has a positive influence on readers.
CV – You have accomplished so much. What achievements to date are you most proud of?
RC – The things I’m most proud of are the friendships developed among many of our website members, and the human and non-human lives we’re saving through our activism and outreach. I don’t focus on individual achievements or accomplishments at the moment, so nothing particular comes to mind other than the collective positive impact we’re having on the greater community.
RC – I don’t have a “typical day.” I travel constantly and I am in a new environment on a regular basis. I’m also currently injured so I’m not training which would normally be part of my “routine” in some way. That being said, I like to sleep in a bit, often as a result of staying up late. I eat fruit upon waking, check my email and other online social sites, create a plan for the day (exploration of a new town, meeting up with friends, exercising, writing, deciding where or what to eat, etc.) and then I work to execute that plan. I keep myself occupied with my various passions and interests and take one day at a time. I have no idea what I’m doing tomorrow. I’ll be flying from Portland, OR to Los Angeles. And that feels almost “typical” for me.
CV – What do you typically eat in the span of a day and are you a snacker?
RC – I am a big-time snacker. I keep food with me at all times. I constantly travel by car or plane and I keep a tote bag filled primarily with fruits with me. I start my day eating fruit. I’m an enthusiastic fan of summer fruits native to the United States, where I spend most of my time, including blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, plums, apples and so on. In addition to fruit, I eat brown rice, potatoes, greens, and other various vegetables throughout the day. My favorite types of food are Indian, Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian, Japanese, and whole foods, in general.
CV – What is your favorite vegan indulgence?
RC – My favorite vegan indulgence would be some sort of sweet, rich treat, I guess. I prefer to eat fruits and other whole foods, but on occasion I’ll have a vegan milkshake or ice cream while visiting a particular city known for their vegan treat of this or that sort. I don’t feel very limited with a need to indulge. I eat what I like most, and that is fruit and ethnic foods.
CV – When people learn that you are vegan, what is the #1 question they ask and what is your response?
RC – For the past 17 years I’ve been vegan, by far the most common question asked has always been, “Where do you get your protein?” My response varies, but usually involves asking people if they know how much protein is necessary, if they know where protein comes from or what it does, coupled with giving them a list of vegan protein sources that are in everyday foods (nuts, grains, seeds, beans and other legumes, greens and other vegetables, etc.). New questions are starting to emerge as the “protein question” slowly becomes ancient history with a greater education about nutrition among the mainstream public. Some new questions are about vitamin B-12, Paleo-diet related questions, high protein/high fat diets, why veganism and things of that nature.
RC – I don’t think I have an answer for this question. I focus so much on consuming plant-based whole-foods, I can live on them without any other special products. I think vitamin B-12 is important for anyone to supplement with because the food and water we consume is so sterile and void of B-12 in today’s environment, and vitamin B-12 is incredibly important for neurological functions, among other things. I enjoy many vegan “products” that enhance my life, but none of them would be food-related. They would be vegan shoes and other clothing, soaps and shampoos, and things of that nature. Those are the vegan products I’m grateful for. I’m thankful for the opportunity to pursue sports or other interests and do so knowing that I did not cause suffering to an animal or cost its life for me to engage in the activity.
CV – In your wildest dreams what will your life look like in 5 years?
RC – My ideas and perspectives about the world change so frequently, it is hard to say where I even want to be in five years. What I know right now, as I write this, is that I’d love to be a full-time writer living a quiet life in the tropics, likely in Southeast Asia or the Caribbean living off fruits, rice, other ethic vegan foods, and hanging out with the locals. Of course, that could change tomorrow. I take things one day at a time, but in general, I want to create meaningful projects that have a positive impact on others. At the end of the day, I want make someone else’s life better, as often as possible, and help to make the world a better place.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I appreciate the opportunity.
Author of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet