Big Bald Mike is a lot like you might imagine: He’s big, he’s bald, and he’s got the warm personality of a person who goes by a nickname—he called me “friend” in each e-mail we exchanged, although we’ve never met in person. He can also, it must be said, squat 675 pounds. Big Bald Mike is a professional arm wrestler. He’s strong. He’s manly. And—something you might not guess at first blush—he’s vegan.
We love that Mike is a ball of testosterone, fueled by spinach and quinoa. We caught up with him to talk about going vegan, nixing meat as an athlete, and his impressive health turnaround since doing so. Brace yourself: His story is inspiring.
A well-known comeback from meat-eaters who are skeptical of veganism is “But where do you get your protein?” Of course, we know there are plenty of sources—and your muscles are proof! What are you favorite foods for protein?
Ah, the silly protein myth—I get asked this question daily, and people are always shocked to discover that I have freaky strength and huge muscles from eating primarily dark leafy greens, legumes, fruit, and whole grains.
My main nutritional staples that fuel my heavy duty workouts are kale, spinach, black beans, quinoa, brown rice, and oranges. Those foods are so packed with protein and vitamins, you can’t go wrong slamming that nutrition after an intense workout!
Why do you think it’s important for tough, strong guys like you to spread the message about eating cruelty-free?
A lot of people look up to big dudes, and that presents a great opportunity to show those people how to be a real man.
By taking a stand for the voiceless—animals—and rising up against the opposition that comes with defending animals, you get to wear the greatest badge of honor and be a big man (or woman). Compassion is tough.
You’re most well-known as a vegan athlete. How else would you describe yourself? Who are you when you’re not at the gym?
Currently, I am working on my website bigbaldmike.com. I am also an entertainer by trade (music business, movies, commercials). I enjoy spending time with my beautiful lady and our boy, going for walks in nature, fixing air conditioners, studying mathematics, and developing my motivational speaking career.
We love to know what people munch on. What’s your favorite snack for a quick energy boost?
Hmm …. I don’t really snack in between meals, but if need a quick energy boost, I throw frozen bananas and strawberries in my Vitamix with some Vega Pre-Workout Energizer and make strawberry-banana ice cream! This stuff is amazing, better than regular ice cream, and is a great cruelty-free, low-calorie energy booster!
What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring athletes? What about for aspiring vegans?
For aspiring athletes, a whole-food vegan diet is going to be your greatest advantage in achieving the performance level you desire. A plant-based diet that includes tons of leafy greens will keep your body in an alkaline state, speeding up your recovery time dramatically and allowing your training intensity level to be increased to where you will see noticeable gains in performance quickly.
For aspiring vegans, please listen: The greatest way to make a positive impact on animal welfare, our environment, and you as a person is to drop the cheeseburgers and take in a big mouthful of spinach. Please help end the suffering of millions of animals. They will snuggle you forever if you make the change starting now.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Since January 2012, I have gone from 571 pounds to 495 pounds, and I have reversed diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, drug addiction, depression, and impotence by choosing to eat a vegan diet. I can climb a mountain, go for walks with my family, shrug 855 pounds, curl 233 pounds, squat 675 pounds, and beat other tough guys in arm wrestling. If I can do this, so can YOU! Train hard, eat plants, and love the animals with compassion.
All photos courtesy of Big Bald Mike.