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The Health Science Podcast | Episode 045. | September 14, 2023
045: The Journey Inward: Resilience and Mindful Living with Robert Cheeke
045: The Journey Inward: Resilience and Mindful Living with Robert Cheeke

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Recognized as one of the most influential figures in the vegan movement, Robert Cheeke embarked on a remarkable journey that transformed him from a skinny teenager into a professional bodybuilder. This journey not only showcased the incredible potential of a plant-based lifestyle but also solidified Robert’s status as an inspirational leader in the world of vegan bodybuilding and healthy living.

Robert Cheeke’s journey from a farm upbringing to becoming a prominent figure in the vegan bodybuilding community is a testament to his unwavering dedication, commitment to veganism, and a compassionate lifestyle.

Early Influences and Commitment to Veganism

Robert Cheeke’s story begins in a unique setting—a family farm in Oregon, filled with cows, goats, chickens, and rabbits. While actively caring for these animals, Robert began to question the ethics of raising them for food.

At age 15, influenced by his older sister’s advocacy for animal rights, Robert began his move to veganism. His sister organized an animal rights week at their high school, exposing Robert to videos and literature that highlighted the suffering of animals in factory farming.

Navigating Family Dynamics

Growing up on a farm presented Robert with complex family dynamics. His father was an animal science professor, and his brother was actively involved in farming. Despite differences in dietary choices and ethical beliefs, Robert’s family remained supportive of his choice to become vegan.

Motivations for Pursuing Vegan Bodybuilding

Robert’s commitment to veganism extended beyond ethical considerations. He was determined to prove that one could achieve remarkable physical feats on a plant-based diet. His journey into vegan bodybuilding was driven by a desire to inspire others and reduce animal suffering by showcasing the possibilities of a vegan lifestyle.

Use of Plant-Based Protein Supplements

During the early stages of his bodybuilding journey, Robert relied on plant-based protein supplements to support his training and muscle growth. He experimented with various sources of plant-based protein, including soy, rice, and pea protein, to meet his nutritional needs.

The Shift to Whole Foods

In 2012, Robert’s approach to nutrition underwent a significant transformation. He enrolled in T. Colin Campbell’s plant-based nutrition course at Cornell University, which challenged his beliefs about sports nutrition and supplementation. This experience emphasized the importance of whole foods in achieving optimal health and strength.

Achievements in Bodybuilding

Robert’s dedication and adherence to a whole food, plant-based diet led to impressive success in the world of bodybuilding. He not only won competitions but also graced magazine covers and set strength records, including a bench press of 345 pounds.

Transition to Writing and Teaching

After his remarkable bodybuilding career, Robert found a new passion for writing and teaching. Inspired by mentors and friends, he began sharing his knowledge through books, speaking engagements, and educational endeavors. His ability to inspire and motivate others has made him a respected international ambassador of the plant-based lifestyle.

The Legacy of Vegan Bodybuilding

Robert Cheeke’s legacy extends far beyond his personal achievements. His contributions to the vegan bodybuilding and fitness communities have helped countless individuals embrace plant-based living, achieve their fitness goals, and find like-minded communities. His journey from a farm upbringing to a celebrated vegan bodybuilder and inspirational leader continues to inspire people worldwide.

A Stark Reminder of True Transformation

Robert Cheeke’s journey serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of dedication, compassion, and a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. His impact on the vegan and fitness communities is immeasurable, and he continues to empower individuals to pursue their dreams while aligning with their values. Robert’s story highlights that anyone can lead a fulfilling life while making a positive difference in the world through their actions and choices.

Episode Highlights

[02:15]             From farming to veganism at age 15  

[05:30]             Skinny kid at 89 pounds to 200 pounds of muscle due to plant-based bodybuilding

[09:00]             Robert still enjoys the annual harvest of exotic fruits and vegetables.

[11:00]             School became challenging due to Robert being an outspoken voice for the animals.

[20:00]             Setting the intention of becoming incredibly strong on plant-based foods.

[25:00]             From vegan protein powder to a whole food, plant-based diet.

[30:00]             Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s eCornell plant-based nutrition course is a game-changer.

[35:45]             Becoming an international voice for the movement.

[42:00]             One person’s advice to write two pages a day created a bestseller.

[46:00]             Setting the expectation so high, Robert had to achieve it.

[53:15]             Dr. Sabatino learns of the impact he had on Robert’s health.

[60:15]             An overview of addictions.

About Robert Cheeke

Robert Cheeke is an American bodybuilder, motivational speaker, and author known for his dedication to veganism and fitness advocacy. He travels across the United States, delivering inspiring speeches, promoting his books, and running the popular fitness website, Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness.

Cheeke’s journey began on a farm, where he developed compassion for animals. At 15, he embraced veganism and initiated animal rights events at Corvallis High School, including recycling programs and providing vegan meals to those in need.

Cheeke started as a cross country runner at Oregon State University in 1999 but transitioned to competitive bodybuilding in 2000. He achieved significant victories, including winning the INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Overall Novice Champion title in 2005. Cheeke also competed in prestigious events like the Natural Bodybuilding World Championships.

Robert Cheeke’s life exemplifies the power of a plant-based lifestyle and fitness commitment, inspiring others to embrace a compassionate and health-conscious way of living.

Bodybuilding Titles

~2005 INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Overall Novice Championship

Competitive Placings

~2006 Natural Bodybuilding World Championships

~Championships – 1st in class


~Robert Cheeke – Vegan Fitness: Built Naturally (2006)

~Robert Cheeke – Vegan Brothers in Iron (2010)


~The Plant-Based Athlete: A Game-Changing Approach to Peak Performance (2021) with Matt Frazier, which premiered at #4 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

~Plant-Based Muscle (2017)

~Shred it (2014)

~Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant Based Diet (2010)

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About Dr. Frank Sabatino

As a recognized authority on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, Dr. Frank Sabatino has cared for and inspired thousands of people for over 40 years. Dr. Sabatino has a PhD in cell biology and neuroendocrinology and has done extensive landmark research on calorie restriction, stress, and aging. He currently is on staff at the TrueNorth Health Foundation in Santa Rosa, CA, and serves as the Director of Health Education at the NHA.

Dr. Sabatino’s passion and life’s work include raising awareness about the benefits of whole-food, plant-exclusive nutrition (without added salt, oil, or sugar), health rejuvenation, stress management.

About NHA

The National Health Association (NHA), founded in 1948, is a nonprofit organization that promotes the benefits of a plant-based diet. The Association provides educational materials, educational events, and services to thousands of people around the world.

The mission of the National Health Association is to educate and empower individuals to understand that health results from healthful living. The NHA recognizes the integration of all aspects of health: personal, environmental, and social.

The NHA also provides travel experiences around the globe through the NHA Plant-Based Travel and cruise division.

More information:


A unique benefit of the NHA Conference is the selection of two medical students who receive a full scholarship to the conference.

Contact Wanda Huberman for more information on how to apply for the scholarship.  [email protected]

NHA membership

For a very nominal investment, you can enjoy incredible benefits of the NHA membership.

Members of the NHA enjoy a subscription to the award-winning quarterly health journal, Health Science, access to the “Members Only” section of the NHA Website (which contains all 43 years of back issues of the magazine),  the ability to download for free many classic out of print eBooks on the history of the Natural Hygiene Movement, including Fasting Can Save Your Life and The Greatest Health Discovery, discounts on books, and early notice of the NHA events.

Only $35 a year for basic membership within the United States.

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