Strong athletes looking to outperform their competition and improve their health may want to take a cue from vegan arm wrestler Big Bald Mike. After going vegan to help prevent cruelty to farmed animals in 2010, Mike has been training hard and competing in arm wrestling competitions around the country. We caught up with Mike to learn more about his arm wrestling, and how one of the biggest and strongest guys in the world became vegan.
How did you first become interested in arm wrestling?
My girlfriend encouraged me to get into arm wrestling after watching me lift huge amounts of weight in the gym, so I found a local tournament in Texas. Funny thing, it was actually a national tournament. I had no idea what I was walking into, but I met a world-champion at that tournament, who has become my coach, and he is training me to be a champion arm wrestler.
Why and when did you decide to become vegan?
In January 2009, I had just become sober. After four years of heavy drug and alcohol abuse and extreme binging on fast food, I decided that I was going to make a huge change. One month into my sobriety, I met an angel who would become the love of my life, and propel my transformation into something that would isolate, confuse, and downright piss off many of my family and friends - to give up meat forever - and it was the greatest decision I have ever made in my life.
After my new girlfriend showed me a few undercover slaughterhouse videos of cows, chickens, and pigs being treated inhumanely, and more importantly, waking up to the extreme brutality and suffering of these beautiful, innocent animals, I was DONE - 29 years of supporting the meat industry was put to an end on March 31, 2009 when I became vegetarian. Unfortunately, I did not become a vegan until the summer of 2010, right around the time I started training to be a professional arm wrestler. And once again, it was seeing more undercover videos of the terrible conditions of the egg and dairy industries that took me from vegetarian to vegan.
How do other arm wrestlers and athletes react when they find out you're vegan?
Most of the time they pick up their jaws off the floor! They are looking at a huge gorilla man that is stronger than them, but are very confused to know that my strength comes from plants. Most of the time the reaction is positive, but if they don't agree with veganism, it is comical to watch them act like they have a degree in nutritional science in order to justify eating meat.
What do you eat on a typical day?
I focus on eating healing, low-fat whole foods like beans, dark leafy greens, unprocessed whole grains, and fruit. Since January 2012 (after cutting out oils, processed food, and fats), I have gone from 571 lbs. to 499 lbs., and in the process I have reversed diabetes, hypertension, and a leaky heart valve. I have so much energy now, and I feel like I am finally eating the way a happy, healthy vegan should be eating. I FEEL GREAT!
What's your favorite part about being vegan?
The number one, absolute reason I love being vegan is that I am finally DOING something good for the animals and our planet, from both of which I have taken so much in my lifetime. The chance to inspire someone to think it's awesome to eat kale and red beans for breakfast, to inspire someone to think about the welfare of beautiful, cute animals that want to be loved and treated kindly like ourselves, to inspire someone to get in the gym and rip some iron apart and then declare that their muscle fuel is from oatmeal and mustard greens - this is why I love being a vegan!
What would you say to other athletes who want to go vegan?
I'm living proof that you can eat spinach and apples and still lift a car. Please stop contributing to the suffering of animals, and take a positive step towards a diet that will open your heart and mind for immense healing.
Athletes like Big Bald Mike, Juliana Sproles, Patrik Baboumian, Carl Lewis, Rich Roll, Scott Jurek, and Mac Danzig are living proof that humans can thrive on plant-based diets. Ready to be "plant-strong" and get healthy? Visit ChooseVeg.com for important information about vegan health and hundreds of delicious, cruelty-free recipes.
Meet Big Bald Mike: The Vegan Arm Wrestler
by - May 3, 2012