Graduate Spotlight: Robert Cheeke
Robert grew up on a farm in Corvallis, OR where he adopted a vegan lifestyle in 1995 at age 15. Today he is the bestselling author of the books, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, Shred It!, and newly released, Plant-Based Muscle.
As a two-time natural bodybuilding champion, Robert is considered one of VegNews magazine’s Most Influential Vegan Athletes. He tours around the world sharing his story of transformation from a skinny farm kid to champion vegan bodybuilder.
Robert is the founder and president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness. He writes books, gives lectures, and maintains the popular website, VeganBodybuilding.com. He is a regular contributor to Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine, Naked Food Magazine, and Forks Over Knives, is a multi-sport athlete, entrepreneur, and has followed a plant-based diet for more than 20 years. Learn more at veganbodybuilding.com.
He is a graduate of the CNS and eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate.
My Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) Story
Though I have been following a plant-based diet since 1995, I was using a lot of sports supplements and eating many processed foods when I started working for Forks Over Knives in 2011. The team at Forks Over Knives encouraged me to adopt more of a whole-food, plant-based diet and ditch the protein powders. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to do that, but I agreed to enroll in the Center for Nutrition Studies Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate. The Certificate challenged what I thought I knew about nutrition and opened my eyes to the power of whole foods. I dropped all sports supplements in 2012 at the completion of the course, and haven’t looked back. In fact, in 2014, I released a whole-food, plant-based book endorsed by Dr. T. Colin Campbell himself! That is one accomplishment that I am proud to say is one of the great honors of my life. Not only do I have Dr. Campbell’s endorsement for my book, Shred It! – Your Step-by-Step Guide to Burning Fat and Building Muscle on a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet, but I also have endorsements from Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., the creator of Forks Over Knives, Brian Wendel, Rip Esselstyn, Julieanna Hever, R.D., Rich Roll, and dozens of others. I am very fortunate to have been inspired by Forks Over Knives and Dr. Campbell, and it is a great privilege to inspire others with my own journey.
My Advice for Beginners
The advice I have for anyone thinking of embarking on a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle is to embrace what science suggests is the healthiest way to eat and to simply eat plants. The plant-based diet is absolutely diverse and common in many cultures and in ethnic foods many of us are well familiar with, from Thai to Mexican, from Vietnamese to Ethiopian, and from Indian to Japanese cuisine. Discover the plant foods you enjoy most and make those the staples of your nutrition program. We all have 1,440 minutes per day, so there is no time-related excuse to avoid plant-based whole foods, especially when something like a banana is as accessible as it gets. Simply, consume a variety of whole plant foods, exercise regularly, get adequate hydration and rest, and lead by example to show how practical and accessible a whole-food, plant-based diet can be.
How I Achieved My Health Goals
I was a competitive bodybuilder for 10 years, and I had an intense work ethic. After winning multiple bodybuilding competitions, and a decade of training and dedication, I figured I had reached my peak when I retired at age 30. I took the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate two years following my retirement from bodybuilding. About two years after I got my certificate, and applied the principles I learned, I became bigger and stronger than I had ever been in my entire life, and it wasn’t even close. I peaked at a weight of 195 pounds as a competitive bodybuilder, but years into my retirement and years removed from sports supplements, I weighed 210 pounds and was the strongest I had been in my life. Now, more than six years after I got my Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate, I currently weigh 206 pounds, I have a fully funded national fitness tour to teach others about plant-based nutrition, and I recently authored my fourth book. I am a regular lecturer on tour, and for the ninth consecutive year, I will join Dr. Campbell on the Holistic Holiday at Sea Vegan Cruise to spread the message about the power of a plant-based diet.
How the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Impacted My Life
The Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate has opened up many doors for me, and I am so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. When I was only known as a vegan bodybuilder, my career was relatively limited, but literally the same week my book Shred It!, endorsed by Dr. Campbell, was released, I toured in Australia where I was invited to lecture. The tour went so well, I returned to Australia the following year. I was also invited to speak in London, Beijing, Toronto, Los Angeles, and other great cities around the world. My education and experiences enabled me to write more books, create a national tour, and have a far greater impact than if I hadn’t explored this avenue within the plant-based nutrition world. I am grateful for Dr. Campbell, and everyone at the Center for Nutrition Studies for the wonderful opportunities that have enriched my career, and my personal and professional life.
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