Rob Bigwood is one of the top Professional Arm Wrestlers in the Northeast USA. Currently ranked eighth in the country in the 242 lb. division, he has won over 40 state tournaments as well as the left-handed World Championship in 2006.
In this profile Rob discusses some of his motivations for going vegan, and gives an insight into his training as a Pro Arm Wrestler.
How and why did you go vegan?
After realizing that the animals I was eating had the same feelings, fears and pain as the animals I loved. I’ve always been an animal lover but never made the connection. I did some research online, watched a few videos (Meet Your Meat being one that still horrifies me) and made the decision to never eat meat again.
Bigwood in action
Did you encounter any difficulties? If so what were they and how have you dealt with them?
I was unsuccessful my first few attempts but once I got my head straight the diet was easy to maintain. I ate the same meals but replaced meat with tofu, beans or mock meat. I switched to soy milk and cut out the eggs and cheese (though this was the hardest part for me). A vegan diet is a lot easier than people think.
How have your family and friends reacted to your veganism?
They were concerned at first and didn’t understand, probably thinking it was a phase. But seeing how successful and healthy I’ve become they realize what a positive thing a cruelty free diet is.
Is there anyone who has particularly inspired or helped you?
I started a vegetarian diet with my girlfriend around three years ago. I think we both have educated each other along the way. I read Joshua Katcher’s blog The Discerning Brute and Robert Cheeke’s veganbodybuilding.com for other inspirations.
Rob Bigwood, Arm Wrestling Champion
How do you feel switching to veganism has impacted your health?
I used to weigh 285 lbs (130kgs), be sluggish and relied too much on coffee throughout the day. Now I’m down to 225 lbs (102kgs), have incredible energy and overall feel like a new person.
Can you describe some of your favourite meals, takeaway or home cooked?
Breakfast: Oatmeal with almonds, sun flower seeds, flaxseeds, raisins and cranberries. Or a healthy bowl of cereal with soy milk and a banana.
Snacks: Bannanas, oranges, apples with peanut butter, nuts, freshly squeezed carrot juice, and Vega protein shakes.
Have you encountered any absurd stereotypes, comments or negative attitudes?
Suprisingly everyone has been positive. Once they realize you can be big and strong without meat people really don’t have much to say.
What do you think are the most effective ways of helping veganism to become more mainstream?
Leading by example. Don’t explain it – show it!
How did you become a professional arm wrestler?
A good friend in High School competed and got me started. My first competition was in North Carolina back in 2001. It takes three first place wins (in the novice division) to be considered a professional. I turned pro a few years later.
Training with garage springs
Could you describe your training routine as a professional Arm Wrestler?
I arm wrestle with a group of guys in Brooklyn, NY. I also do cable and spring holds to simulate armwrestling. This sport is all about tendon strength. Weighted pull ups and grip and forearm workouts. I can’t get into the specific details for obvious reasons!
What do you eat and do you take any supplements?
The only supplements I take are a multi-vitamin, liquid b-complex and a few vega supplements. Simple.
How do you feel being vegan has effected your progress as a strength athlete?
I’m healthier now and feel just as strong as I did before turning vegan. The only thing that effects my progress is my hectic work schedule.
How did it feel beating a powerlifting legend like Shawn Lattimer? (shown in the video above)
It felt great. He is actually one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet. Just by looking at him he is massive and intimidating standing at 6′4 and 400 lbs (180kgs). I just gave it my best shot and had no clue what was going to happen before the ref said “Ready Go!”
Welcome to the vegan gun show. Photo: Hyun Lee
Any advice for aspiring vegan arm wrestlers?
Do a little research and don’t believe everything you hear. There are tons ways to get protein other then eating dead carcasus. This goes for anybody.