Q & A with Vegan Arm Wrestler Rob Bigwood
Rob Bigwood has been a professional arm wrestler since the age of 20. Currently 27, Rob is one of the top-ranked arm wrestlers in the Northeast and among the top 20 overall in the United States. He has won over 40 state tournaments covering the entire East Coast, as well as the PAC’s World Championship in 2006 (left handed).
What inspired you to become a vegan?
I first considered giving up meat after an arm wrestling tournament back in 2002. At the Pennsylvania State Fair a group of piglets caught my attention. It was too cute watching them wrestle around and fight for milk from their mom—it was no different than puppies. I got terribly sick to my stomach knowing that I had a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast that same morning.
I was pretty unsuccessful for a few years. But when I moved to New York three years ago I set my mind on it and have been a strict vegetarian ever since. My diet naturally and gradually led to a vegan diet.
How did your life and health change after becoming a vegan?
Before starting I weighed 290lbs, and I felt lazy and extremely unhealthy. But now I am 225 lbs and feel like a totally new person. I made a conscious and ethical decision to give up meat and was willing to face the consequences (having no clue at the time what they would be). It is more important to practice what I preach than to worry about being a strong arm wrestler. At first my body did not feel right but it only took a couple of weeks to adjust. Eventually, I began to gain energy and consistently lost weight. I have never felt healthier in my entire life and it has been one of the best decisions I ever made.
What challenges have you faced as an arm wrestler who is vegan?
None, to be perfectly honest. I still train exactly the same way and have a simple diet so I make sure to get the necessary vitamins, minerals and protein. I am also a huge fan of Vega supplements.
How does the arm wrestling community react to your diet?
Most of the arm wrestlers were shocked. They, like most people, don’t understand how I am that strong without meat, milk, eggs and etc. Most have known me prior to going vegan and really respect my decision.
What do you eat on a typical day?
For breakfast I usually mix oatmeal with sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, ground Flaxseed, raisins and cranberries. Or if I’m feeling lazy I will just eat some healthy cereal with soy milk and a banana.
I work in New York City so I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to finding vegetarian lunch and dinner options. I love Indian, Thai, Mexican and Japanese food. One of my favorite places to eat is Soy and Sake Village. I’m also a huge fan of Gobo, Blossom, and Candle Cafe.
As far as supplements I take liquid Vitamin B-complex, a multivitamin, and Vega protein shakes. I keep things simple.
When you moved to New York and became a strict vegetarian, were there certain strategies or meals that helped you stick to the diet while you transitioned?
It was an easy transition for me because I would eat exactly the same meals minus the meat. I would replace it with tofu, beans or nuts. I also ate a lot of veggie burgers and frequently visited Whole Foods.
Do you do anything to encourage others arm wrestlers to try a vegan diet?
I have been doing the best I can with educating, inspiring, and breaking the typical stereotypes. I tell people, if not for the awesome health benefits, then at least make an effort for the animals. If being a vegan seems impossible then cut back on meat a few days a week; every effort counts.
People don’t realize the harsh cruelty and suffering these animals go through before eventually ending up the meat in your sandwich. Being vegan also means being green, it is the absolute best thing for our environment!
Rob Bigwood is a Senior Interactive Designer currently working at Atmosphere BBDO in New York, NY. For more information, visit his website.