Rob Bigwood is a New York City based Interactive Art Director and a top-ranked Professional Arm Wrestler. Rob has won over 40 state tournaments, as well as the PAC’s World Championship in 2006 (left handed). He has also been featured in VegNews magazine’s “The Hot List,” Maxim magazine's "He-Man Vegans," John Joseph’s “Meat is for Pussies," the Vegan Society Magazine and interviewed on countless other sites for breaking the vegan stereotype.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
It all started back in 2002 at a State Fair when a group of piglets caught my attention. It was adorable watching them interact with each other, and it was no different than watching puppies. I got ill thinking that I had eaten a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast that morning. I've always been an animal lover and when I actually made the connection, it made me sick. I researched and discovered how disgusting and inhuman the factory farming industry is.
How long have you been vegan?
I have been a vegetarian for years but vegan since 2009.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
The biggest benefit is that I know I'm thriving on a cruelty free diet and that no animals have to endure any pain or suffering for my personal benefit. I use to weigh around 290 pounds and felt extremely lethargic. Now I'm 225 lbs and feel like a new person. I've never felt healthier in my entire life and it has been one of the best decisions I ever made.
What does veganism mean to you?
I made an ethical decision to give up all animal products and was willing to face any consequences. It is more important to stand up for what I believe in than to worry about being an amazing arm wrestler. Veganism is a life style that more people should get behind.
What sort of training do you do?
Torque exercises that simulate arm wrestling, heavy weights and cable training. Forearms, biceps and back are the most important body parts to train for this sport.
How often do you (need to) train?
For a tournament, I'm in the gym 4-5 days a week. I also arm wrestle with a group of guys every few weeks.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
Sure, if they have any interest in my sport.
What sports do you play?
Professional Arm Wrestler
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
I blitz any misconceptions by beating over-sized meatheads on the arm wrestling table.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
Muscle endurance and tendon strength.
What is your biggest challenge?
Drinking too much beer, liquor and wine.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Surprisingly yes, but this might be because I'm successful.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Absolutely! My dad loves the food and my mom makes sure I have everything needed for when I go home to Jersey.
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond?
"Where do you get your protein?"
Who or what motivates you?
I motivate and push myself. I have always been the type of person to never settle for anything less than the best.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - I usually mix oatmeal and almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and raisins. If I’m feeling lazy, I’ll eat organic cereal with almond milk and a banana.
Lunch - A variety of salads.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Vegan ice cream and New York’s Dun-Well Donuts.
What is your favourite source of:
Protein - Sunwarrior and Vega protein shakes, Builder protein bars, almond milk, legumes, nuts, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and mock meat.
Calcium - Tofu, Almond milk, dark green leafy vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, collards, kale, spinach).
Iron - Dark green leafy vegetables and beans (lentils, soybeans, spinach, quinoa, chickpeas).
What foods give you the most energy?
Fruits, vegetables, nuts and freshly squeezed juices. I also have more energy when I eat less calories.
Do you take any supplements?
Only when I train for a competition, I take protein shakes and a multivitamin. I also take flaxseed oil and glucosamine for my elbows.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - Eat more protein and calories. Also do between 8-12 repetitions of each set at the gym.
Losing weight - Eat less calories and add more cardio to your workouts.
Improving metabolism - Spend more time exercising.
Toning up - I'm the wrong guy to ask but check out Robert Cheeke or Jimi Sitko.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I have a blog
where I post related topics. Most people are intrigued when they find I'm vegan. We were always raised to believe that the only way to get protein is meat. I educate them about my diet and where I get my protein.