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Vegan bodybuilder teaches getting buff without beef


Bodybuilders rely on months of dedication to their training regimen before they compete at a championship event. They prepare daily meals, spend time weight training and consume various supplements.

Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke’s physique is the result of his regimen that has earned him a championship, but with one distinction — he’s vegan.

On Friday, Cheeke will discuss vegan health and wellness, hosted by Students Protecting the Environment and Animals through Knowledge , at 2 p.m. in Room 33 of the Campus Recreation Center (CRC).

Cheeke will speak about how to eat a vegan diet to fuel athleticism, lose weight, gain muscle, lower stress and prevent injuries. Veganism is the choice to not use or consume any animal or animal by-products.

“From a nutritional perspective, in your head (when you think of) a stereotypical vegan, what you are imagining is probably the antithesis of a bodybuilder,” Cody Allen, director of communications for SPEAK and a senior majoring in sociology, said. “This is one of the big reasons why we have one coming to speak.”

Katie Jones, a USF Wellness registered dietitian, said veganism can offer health benefits.

“Research has shown potential health benefits from following a vegan diet such as a decreased risk for heart disease, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol,” Jones said. “Since vegans do not consume animal based products, it is important to pay special attention to the adequate intake of vitamin D, Iron, Calcium, B12 and protein.”

Cheeke adopted a vegan lifestyle at 15 years old, his website states. His compassion for animals while growing up on a farm inspired his choice to avoid animal products.

He first started running cross-country at Oregon State University in 1999 but then became interested in weightlifting. After Cheeke began competitively bodybuilding in 2000, he won his first championship at the 2005 INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Championship in the overall novice category.

While Cheeke continues to compete, he is also president of and tours the U.S. speaking about exercising with a vegan diet.

“Colleen, our faculty adviser, went to one of his talks he gave,” Allen said. “She made contact with him and told him there was an animal rights group on campus and he was glad to come.”

Allen said he hopes to see not only members from SPEAK, but also those interested in hearing about veganism from a bodybuilder.

“Maybe we will be able to get some people that aren’t familiar with the culture, nutritional aspects and lifestyle of veganism,” he said.