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Empowering Vegan Transformation: Robert Cheeke's Journey from Farm Kid to Vegan Bodybuilding Icon

In the latest episode of the Plant Based On Fire podcast, Bryan sits down with Robert Cheeke, a man whose journey from a skinny kid on an Oregon farm to a renowned vegan bodybuilding champion has inspired countless individuals. Robert, often referred to as the “Godfather of Vegan Bodybuilding,” has spent over two decades fostering the growth of vegan bodybuilding from its nascent stage to what it is today.

Raised on a farm, Robert's early interactions with animals shaped his views profoundly. At just 15, influenced by his sister and an animal rights week at his high school, Robert chose veganism—a decision that has lasted nearly three decades. His commitment has not only shaped his lifestyle but has also propelled him to the forefront of the vegan movement, demonstrating the potential within a plant-based lifestyle to transform body and mind.

Robert’s journey is not just about personal change; it’s a beacon for entrepreneurial spirit in the plant-based community. His venture into writing led to the New York Times bestseller The Plant-Based Athlete. His latest work, The Impactful Vegan, aims to equip readers with strategies to maximize their impact on animal welfare, the environment, and global health.

This episode delves deep into how Robert’s early choices led him to build a formidable brand in vegan bodybuilding. His story is a testament to the power of plant-based nutrition and a reflective look at the ethical implications of our food choices. It's not just about building muscle but about nurturing a compassionate, ethical approach to life and business

Robert’s narrative is a compelling blueprint for plant-based business enthusiasts. It underscores the significance of aligning one's entrepreneurial ventures with personal values and ethics, turning passion into impactful business strategies. His advice is clear: leverage your strengths and channel your passion into avenues that fulfill you and create substantial change.

As Robert continues to inspire through his books, speaking engagements, and advocacy, his journey offers valuable lessons on the power of persistence, ethical consistency, and the impact of living by one's values. Tune into this inspiring episode to learn how you can make a difference in the plant-based world.

Discover more about how to transform your passion for veganism into a thriving business by listening to Robert Cheeke’s episode HERE or visiting his website, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness.


>Episode’s Transcript

Please understand that a transcription service provided the transcript below. It undoubtedly contains errors that invariably take place in voice transcriptions.

Bryan (00:01.27)

Hello everybody and welcome to Plant Based on Fire, where we talk about plant based businesses and their inspiring stories to thrive in our industry. I'm your host Bryan, and I have the great pleasure of joining us, having Robert Cheeke join us today. He is an author and a pioneering bodybuilding champion. So welcome to the show, Robert, thanks for being here.

Robert Cheeke (00:25.151)

Bryan, thank you for having me. Good to see you again.

Bryan (00:28.498)

Yeah. Likewise. We've gotten to hang out a few times behind the scenes here where we've got a few other plant-based things brewing. So I'm excited to talk about those new initiatives sometime soon. But, um, you know, I wanted to just spend a few minutes with you today and maybe sort of fill in a little bit of background for some of the people that may not know fully about you yet, which would be surprising. Um, cause everybody does, but then also just, uh, help celebrate, uh, congratulations on another amazing book that's out, right?

Robert Cheeke (00:58.747)

Yeah, thank you so much, Bryan. The book is out June 25th, 2024, but of course it's available for pre-order now and you've seen me online posting photos with various people because I've got some advanced copies like I've got with me right here. So yeah, The Impactful Vegan coming out soon. It's two and a half years in the making. It's my best book yet and I've written a New York Times bestseller. So that's...

hopefully saying something, at least that's how I feel about the book and I think readers will feel that way as well and I also think it's natural evolution. I mean, this is my sixth book and obviously there's progression there and as you get better at your craft and more experienced, that tends to yield higher quality books as a result. So I believe this is my best work yet. It's certainly the hardest I've ever worked on a book.

And I think it's the most meaningful and impactful book that I've ever written, and I hope it has that influence and achieves what I think it can.

Bryan (02:03.454)

I love it. Yeah. I'm looking forward to reading it as well here soon, but like, let's, let's go back in time just a little bit here. I think you, uh, are one of the early adopters. You went, you went vegan at the age of 15, right? So tell us a little bit about those early. Yeah. And so tell us what, what inspired you to adopt the vegan lifestyle so young and how did your, your upbringing on the farm? I think you're at the farm today. How did those things shape your views?

Robert Cheeke (02:18.243)

Yeah, I'm almost 45 now, so.

Robert Cheeke (02:32.319)

Yeah, I'm on the farm right now. And I've been doing this for almost 30 years. So I'm almost, you know, almost 45. And I started this at age 15. And it started right here. Like literally, almost literally in this bedroom. It was actually just the next bedroom over at the house I grew up in. But, you know, I raised animals on the farm. I raised all sorts of animals, dairy calves and chickens and rabbits. We had turkeys and geese and ducks and goats and horses and ponies and...

guinea pigs and gerbils and you name it, a lot of animals on the farm. But I particularly raised dairy calves, rabbits and chickens were kind of my areas of focus. And I would raise those animals and build up a relationship with them, much like people have with a dog or a cat, especially city folk who are, you know, those are typically the household pets, maybe birds enter in that sphere, but it's certainly not, you know, hanging out with a dairy calf and bottle feeding, you know, in your apartments or suburban homes.

That was my childhood was getting to know animals as individuals who had their own desires to live lives free of fear, pain, and suffering. And once I recognized that and realized that I, Robert Cheeke, was raising animals and selling them in the auction to be turned into someone else's meal, that's when I took issue with it. And it was my older sister's influence, my older sister Tanya, who went vegan before me and who organized an animal rights week at my high school.

before the internet, mid-90s, before we had computers at home, before we had the World Wide Web, or knew how to use it. And you had to take classes at the school to learn how to use computers, and you had this new internet phenomenon that was on the verge. And so that was the catalyst. It was listening to speakers talk about animals and animal rights. It was reading literature about...

animal suffering and factory farming and animal exploitation and vivisection and really the industrialized animal agriculture industry watching videos. That particularly got to me watching videos of animal testing and factory farming. And so on December 8th, 1995, I decided that I would try being vegan for a little while. Didn't know how long it would last. I gave it a week. That week has now turned into almost three decades.

Robert Cheeke (04:56.511)

and two years later I was organizing. Thank you, thank you. You know, I don't know if I deserve a round of applause, but certainly it's been something that has defined who I am and has kind of made me the person that I am and how I carry myself in the world and how I self-identify and label myself and directs what I write about and what I do. But thank you for that applause. I guess doing anything for 30 years does take some sort of dedication and

and effort and commitment and some sort of North Star that keeps you going. But part of the story I would be remiss if I didn't mention was that, and I think you know this, but when I became vegan, I was a pretty small kid. I weighed 89 and a quarter pounds in eighth grade and barely over 100 pounds when I became vegan. Yet, I had aspirations of getting bigger and stronger and now I'm known as the godfather of vegan bodybuilding. So how the heck did that happen?

Bryan (05:51.502)

That's right.

Robert Cheeke (05:53.983)

Well, I achieved the American dream. I put on 100 pounds. I gained 100 pounds on a plant-based diet. So that's obviously, that's really not, you know, anyone's goal to gain 100 pounds. So I kind of joke that that's the American dream, but it's what I wanted to do. And I was this small scrawny farm kid turned champion vegan bodybuilder multiple times over.

you know, somehow landed on a bunch of magazine covers and toured to five continents. And I've been on a speaking tour for 19 years and produced a documentary 19 years ago. And Vegan Fitness built naturally, if anyone wants to look it up. I used to sell DVDs out of my car back in the day. And I've written five books and this is my sixth one, The Impactful Vegan, on the way out, you know, any day now. And it's been this commitment to

reducing animal suffering and being what I call an impactful vegan that I've carried with me for the duration of the time that I've been vegan over all these years. I was always focused on effectiveness. I was always focusing on making a big difference. And I decided, you know what, I might as well write about that, a data-driven, evidence-based approach to reducing animal suffering in the most impactful ways. And that's precisely what I've done with the new book, which is what brings me

really to this conversation today.

Bryan (07:21.11)

That is awesome. I think it's, it's inspiring. Cause like, you know, many, each of us have our own little journeys on, on this, you know, and, and that's where I feel like we're here to try and create a business. Like this podcast is really focusing on the business side of it, kind of a thing. And so you, you had this changing moment and you got into the, to the bodybuilding and stuff. And I'm just curious if you can help me unpack like two big things is number one, how did

how did you getting in and gaining that weight and stuff turn into this influential platform that it is today? I mean, congratulations there. And then secondly, like how, um, you know, I've seen some of your other books and read some of them. And it's that, that question of like the thing that we all are trying to figure out together is, so yeah, I'm vegan now, but what other ways can I impact it? You know, from like skipping the straws,

at the restaurants, like all these different little things that add up. Right. So like, that's where I'm so intrigued to sort of read your book and help unpack, help unpack the different ways that, uh, we, we can be even more impactful as vegans. Right.

Robert Cheeke (08:35.143)

Let's start with the first question. The first question, naturally, I was a little bit exotic, I would say. I mean, there aren't that many vegan bodybuilders. And so being the first, or really one of the first, I wasn't the first, but I was one of the first notable vegan bodybuilders in the whole world. So you can imagine in those early days, I was being interviewed by the New York Times, the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal. I was touring. I was speaking in Australia for back-to-back years. I was invited to speak in China, which I did in Beijing.

I was in all the magazines, I was doing all the interviews, I went on college campus speaking tour coast to coast from Oregon to Florida and Illinois in between and all these major universities and as you can also imagine there were these vegan festivals, VegFest or they're fall under many names. So I was a desirable guest at these vegan festivals for a long time and I luckily I'm

Bryan (09:26.422)


Robert Cheeke (09:32.287)

I still, for me, I still am today. I have a bunch of speaking tours scheduled and booked in the coming weeks and months and throughout the entire rest of the year. And so that's how the business or the brand and all that came to be. So when I put on, I did basically not the impossible, of course, but I did what people in the general public thought was impossible. I built my body without animal protein. And not only that, I didn't just like,

hey, he got fit. No, I became a champion bodybuilder and wrote bestselling books and graced magazine covers and toured around and was in better shape than 99% of the population. I did this all on a plant-based diet. That's what made me kind of compelling and intriguing. And that's what piques people's interests. And so naturally, a speaking tour was born from that. And then from a speaking tour, you have these topics you talk about, you kind of go down the list, like,

building muscle and burning fat and what's your why and motivation and inspiration and all that. And then that turns into a book, right? And then once you have a book, then you get invited to speak at more events because, hey, this is an author who can sign books and maybe that draws a bigger crowd or brings in extra revenue or it's more enticing or exotic to have this author come in and we can say best-selling author or whatever you want to do. And so then that gave me opportunities. That's when I started getting like...

Bryan (10:39.15)

That's right.

Robert Cheeke (10:59.815)

all expenses paid trips to Australia and China and the UK. And I'm like, wow, this is cool. And so then I had like an apparel line, vegan bodybuilding, clothing, no meat, no problem. Healthy food defines you, all this stuff. I had that for like 15 years or longer until it just became a little bit more saturated space, a little less profitable. And my interest went into writing instead. I wanted to create that form of art rather than

Bryan (11:16.088)


Robert Cheeke (11:28.631)

the apparel sales, which at a time I was probably the number one vegan fitness apparel brand, you know, in the world for a while, probably even for a long while, probably from like 2002 to 2012 or 14. I mean, probably a good decade. I was the number one, I'm sure of it. And that was great. And that was great. But writing and speaking are really the areas of focus. I mean, just today, I was on the phone with the

Bryan (11:35.786)


Robert Cheeke (11:55.111)

organizer of a vegan festival on the East Coast about participating there. I'm booking more speaking engagements all the time. And so it's really my story, right? I mean, I have kind of a unique story. That's what gave me the platform. And then to answer part two of your question, Bryan, it's actually, I use fitness and bodybuilding as a vehicle to promote veganism in an impactful way. So what's the biggest criticism? Oh, you can't be, you know,

Bryan (12:07.914)

It is. It's an amazing story, right?

Robert Cheeke (12:24.867)

You can't be healthy on a plant-based diet or you can't build muscle on a plant-based diet or there's no longevity. Sure, you'll be vegan for a couple of years, but then you'll revert back. I have all of those things, right? I put on a hundred pounds, become a champion bodybuilder. I've been doing it for 30 years. I've had great health results and fitness results and all that. So those are the things that then work as a walking billboard for the lifestyle. And not only that, I'm able to, as I was telling,

as I was telling you previously, that I'm able to recruit all these products from companies. I work with over 150 brands. I was telling you and Glenn about this in a previous conversation. And then I'm able to use those brands to get their products into the hands of a non-vegan audience and help replace what would normally be whey protein with a plant-based protein.

Bryan (13:05.402)

Yeah, that's right.

Robert Cheeke (13:19.851)

what would normally be an animal-based meat with a plant-based meat with normally a dairy or cow milk dairy beverage with a non-dairy beverage from a jerky that would have been from an animal to plant-based jerky to protein bars that would have been egg white and whey-based and casein-based and they're now plant-based. I do this on a large scale to the point that I have done the math and I'm able to replace.

about one to one, replace a protein drink that would have been animal-based with plants or fill in whatever food product it is, food or beverage, just in one of the areas of my work, I'm able to replace about 125,000 of those meals per year through the distribution of those products to a 99% non-vegan audience. And then of course, I reach tens of thousands, if not maybe hundreds of thousands with other approaches as well.

Bryan (14:03.918)


Robert Cheeke (14:15.807)

which I call the Vegan Strong Method, which is a section in my new book, The Impactful Vegan, which talks about leading by example and showing through example what one can accomplish on a plant-based diet and doing it in a positive way, answering questions, being that light that people can look to, being that, I don't wanna use the word role model necessarily, but being that example that people can point to, and then having the resources.

which is either knowledge from experience or learned and acquired knowledge and or the actual products. Like for example, I'm gonna be meeting up with a non-vegan friend of mine tomorrow in my hometown. And I'm gonna be giving him an entire tub of plant-based protein powder, as well as a bunch of other plant-based snacks that he is just kind of eat everything kind of person. And so I know that if I don't provide this to him, he's gonna go get a tub of whey protein

cheaper or he likes it better or whatever, who knows. But he likes the plant-based stuff a lot too because I've been hooking him up with products for years and he tells me he uses like every single serving of it, of whatever I give him. When I give him bags of vegan jerky, he goes through it. These are meals that would have perhaps otherwise come from animals and I do this for a lot of people in all kinds of professional capacities from my tours. I even have a

Bryan (15:16.13)


Robert Cheeke (15:41.347)

multiple 50 pound suitcases already loaded up, filled with products to go distribute at my next speaking tour event, plus a car full of other products to add to that. And I also ship out these boxes that go to thousands of customers per year, many of whom do not live in an entirely vegan household. Therefore, they're sharing these plant-based products, AKA calories that would have very likely otherwise been meat, milk, eggs based that are now totally plant-based.

Furthermore, I distribute all kinds of free product coupons and discount coupons and all this kind of stuff, which by the way, is also part of being an impactful vegan because I'm helping these brands grow. And some of these brands have been able to thrive as a word that you used earlier and to grow and expand and all of that because of my distribution. One company, I distributed $100,000 worth of coupons for them in one year.

Bryan (16:30.994)

Mm-hmm. I love it.

Robert Cheeke (16:39.991)

for a major plant-based brand, that's pretty significant for one calendar year. And so that's just one of many approaches that I take to being an impactful vegan.

Bryan (16:51.666)

I love it. Cause you've got, so you've got 30 years of all these experiments. And I feel like while I've been on my journey for probably 13, 14 years now, you've I I'm just, you know, I've had to deal with all some of the ridicule and criticism from whatever, uh, in the, the normal world, I guess per se. And so it is, that's why I've started this podcast is to help promote more businesses and help people figure out how do they find their path in the plant based world as a business owner.

and or to just stand up for those ways that I believe in. So I wanna follow in your footsteps to a degree. So my question is, what strategy have you found to be the most effective in influencing others to consider the vegan lifestyle?

Robert Cheeke (17:36.267)

Well, that's an interesting question. And it's not really what I've discovered. It's what I learned from others when I look at the data-driven evidence-based research, which is what I'm most interested in, because we all have these personal biases. We all have our ideas of what we think works or what kind of works for us and what fits our personality and what fits what we've always done, what we're used to or what we're naturally good at. But there are some approaches that are basically...

far more effective than others. So here's the question to answer, Bryan. Maybe you can answer this for yourself. Your audience can answer this. So I'll pause for a moment after I ask the question. But basically the question we need to answer is what actions that we can take, so what actions that we take will have a direct influence on changing someone's behavior?

So it's not just about what raises awareness. Like, oh, there's these billboards, there's celebrities, or there's something that raises awareness. Well, awareness is great. But what causes someone to change their behavior to consume fewer animals or reduce the most suffering? So that's really, it's more eloquent in my book the way that I word it. But basically that's the question that I'm asking, is that what will reduce the most suffering among

those who currently contribute to that suffering. So basically what will get omnivores to stop eating as many animals or exploiting as many animals or contributing to as much suffering. And so that's what we have to ask. And the answer somewhat, I don't know, somewhat surprisingly, somewhat unsurprisingly is a number of things. It's a news stories.

news, especially positive news stories about veganism or about animal rescue or about plant-based diets in a positive way, some sort of authoritative source, television, radio, newspaper news story is what really gets people to start thinking about changing their behavior. It can be something about health and diet-related diseases attached to a certain lifestyle behavior

Robert Cheeke (20:01.527)

animals or the environment or certain benefits associated with this type of lifestyle. But it's really news stories are a catalyst that help omnivores not just change their thinking but change their actual behavior, which is what we want to measure. And believe it or not, for better or for worse, social media is also quite effective. I was a little bit surprised by that because...

And this is based on a real data survey of thousands of omnivores who express what not only changed their thinking, but changed their behavior and brought them into more of a plant base or into veganism altogether. And the reason why I was skeptical about social media is because there's so much echo chamber in there, so much patting ourselves on the back and so much small niche community and algorithm stuff that we're kind of, we see the stuff we want to see and our newsfeed gives us what we want to see and

or gives us what we really don't want to see, you know, a lot of the carnivore type stuff. And then we get, and then we start, you know, engaging in sort of conflict and which doesn't do any good for anybody. But so I was surprised, but the real data suggests that social media posts are quite effective in getting people to change their behavior. 30 day challenges like the January are also very effective. Why? Because you're changing pattern behavior habits. You're changing behavioral

on a consistent basis and you're maintaining those for X number of weeks, which could turn into X number of months, X number of years. And so it's this habitual pattern of doing things that makes it second nature. And then all of a sudden you become plant-based or vegan without realizing it. And you're also mentored along the way. You're given resources and recipes and support network and a community of people doing it with you and all that. And also in my, to my delight, I guess you would say.

Bryan (21:32.197)


Robert Cheeke (21:56.971)

books are also highly influential. The problem with books is that they're not consumed on a regular, at a high frequency like, um, podcasts are, or YouTube videos or social media. Um, they're just, uh, far fewer people read books than listen to a podcast or, uh, watch a social media video or read a post or something like that. But books again are very

Bryan (22:01.61)


Bryan (22:12.43)


Bryan (22:25.623)


Robert Cheeke (22:26.283)

authoritative because they come from a professional background of usually an expert author who knows their subject matter and has to go through all these processes in order to get a book published at least by a major publisher. And so books are also influential. And ultimately, Bryan, I mean, there's all these other things, these other characteristics that are effective or

you know, documentaries and things like that to some level. Some things that are fairly ineffective are certain types of disruptive protests which turn a lot of omnivores away from veganism and they kind of resent vegans because their beliefs are being challenged or they feel offended or all kinds of emotional responses. And I think it's important that we listen to those because we're trying to reach this audience and if they're saying, hey,

Bryan (23:09.707)


Robert Cheeke (23:20.715)

This doesn't work. In fact, it makes us want to eat more animals and that's their real genuine response to being yelled at or screamed at or told they're bad person or red paint thrown on them or whatever. I understand that. Like that makes sense to me. And that also is what the data and evidence suggests. So disruptive protests are not all that effective. Again, they can raise awareness, but does awareness lead to behavioral change? Not always. In fact, some awareness is bad. Like...

know, it just is. That's the science of it. There's some bad press around certain aspects of vegan advocacy and I understand that. Billboards are pretty ineffective. Celebrities are rather ineffective at getting behavioral changes. They might reinforce someone's ideas. You know, a lot of us already like, you know, we get excited. Oh, you know, Joaquin Phoenix or whatever, he shares the same value system as me, but we didn't necessarily become vegan because of Joaquin,

or we don't become a carnivore person because I don't know what celebrities do that, but let's say someone like The Rock or whatever, but it may reinforce, and I don't know what The Rock eats. Probably a lot of, well, I don't wanna speculate. But anyway.

Bryan (24:29.215)


Bryan (24:35.971)

If we could just get Taylor Swift to announce it, then... I agree with you though, yeah. I mean, we will look up to them as role models, but they're not gonna impact us in that significant way of that kind of deep change that is needed. So we have to...

Robert Cheeke (24:39.891)

Yeah, well, and who knows?

Robert Cheeke (24:52.415)

Because that deep change is a change in worldview. Right? It's a whole, it's this whole value system. And so is a singer that you like their songs, gonna change your whole value system? Maybe is an actor who you like watching on the big screen because he or she or they are talented, gonna change the way that you view the world and how you navigate the world around you? Maybe, but maybe not. They might reinforce certain things that you.

kind of see yourself in them or resonate with them. But we're talking about value systems here. We're talking about like a moral baseline and these ethical tenets of veganism that come from a paradigm shift that come from a completely nuanced and changed worldview. They usually require some sort of deep thought and analysis and peer support and community support and conversation with others.

Bryan (25:47.787)


Robert Cheeke (25:48.863)

or else it doesn't tend to last all that long. And so do we get that from a billboard? No, but that might raise awareness and maybe that's one of our seven points of contact that helps, you know, we see an email and then we see a social media post and we see this book and then we see a billboard and maybe that's what pushes it over the edge, but it's not the thing. Like, you know, I don't drive down the highway and see all these billboards for, you know, whatever they're advertising. And they're like, oh, you know what?

I'm going to change everything that I think about the world because of what that billboard on a highway 87 says. We don't do that. And so therefore, as effective and impactful vegan advocates, we have to recognize are some things worth putting our resources into and our other ways of promoting and advocating for animals far more effective. And so I tell people...

Bryan (26:27.368)

That's right. Yeah.

Robert Cheeke (26:47.135)

Sometimes you have to do the stuff that's not very sexy. You gotta write letters to the editor. You've gotta write opinion pieces. You've gotta write a fact-based articles and submit them to popular websites and magazines. And I'll tell you, in the early days, even over 20 years ago, more than 20 years ago, I used to submit my own stuff to popular magazines and it would get published. And this was when you had to write a letter and you had a typed letter.

Bryan (26:50.574)

That's right.

Robert Cheeke (27:12.295)

Or maybe you could do email, but I would just mail stuff to the magazines based on the addresses they provided. And then they would like contact me and they would print my stuff and whatever. Now, of course, it's all just done through, you know, instant upload, email, whatever. But that stuff does make a difference. That's what the data suggests, that news stories get people's attention and...

Bryan (27:27.426)



Bryan (27:34.382)


Robert Cheeke (27:37.435)

And they, most importantly, they change people's behavior, which is what we're trying to do. That's really all we're trying to do is create new habits. That's what my book is essentially all about.

Bryan (27:46.166)

I love it. I mean, and you, you sort of answered the question, but I want to unpack it just a little bit more with, with the audience here. Cause I do think that there's quite a few, I mean, you were doing influencing, you were an influencer before social media was even influencer as a job kind of a thing. Right? So like, what, what is the tip? What is the tip or the trick that you can give to the people that are promoting this plant-based diet and want to

Robert Cheeke (28:04.17)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bryan (28:14.478)

to build that personal brand that promotes veganism. And then how did you turn some of those tips in that influencer market into building and maintaining that community? I mean, you have this vegan bodybuilding following, for sure.

Robert Cheeke (28:29.907)

Yeah, the answer is simple, Bryan. Do what you're great at. It's actually not about following your passion. I've been burned more times than I can count. In fact, I have a whole section. This is gonna surprise some people, but I have a section in the book that's called Don't Follow Your Passion and why that's a mistake. I mean, I could explain it briefly why it's a mistake or people can wait and read it in the book. I can sum it up in 15 seconds, hopefully. One is that,

Many people don't have passions to begin with. So it's a moot point. Other people, 90% of passions have to do with sports, music and art, yet only 3% of jobs are in that, in sports, music and art. So you're just destined for failure. You're absolutely destined for failure following your passion. And then the fact that our passions change all the time, every few years they change. I mean, many people are listening, have been plant-based for a matter of months or years listening to this.

they were passionate about something totally different before that, or they were, I mean, I was passionate about bodybuilding, but I retired from that a long time ago. Our passions change all the time. In fact, probably a lot of people listening now are passionate about pickleball. That probably wasn't the case five years ago, but it is today. Right. So following your passion can be a really bad idea for a lot of reasons and many more that I explain in the book too, and give lots of examples. But what's more important is finding out what you're really great at.

Bryan (29:42.894)

That's right.

Robert Cheeke (29:56.535)

And what happens, as you probably know, and maybe have experience, and a lot of us have, is that once you get really great at something, even if it wasn't your passion to begin with, you tend to start finding some enjoyment. When you're really good at something, it tends to give you positive feedback, and you get that feedback. What's that? It's like, what is it called? Like a feedback loop or something like that. It's reinforced by your peers, by a job well done, by the results of your work, by how you feel.

Bryan (30:18.614)

That's right, yeah.

Robert Cheeke (30:26.479)

how you're able to contribute to the world and all these things, where this feedback loop comes back to you. And in that way, it actually could become a passion. But basically, you shouldn't just seek out what you're passionate about today and try to make that a job. It's just not going to work and you may not even be good at it at all. And you're just destined for failure. And then many people have these broken hopes and dreams. And one of the reasons for that, Bryan, is because

And again, I'd be remissed if I, if I didn't say this, that we say, yeah, but, but come on it worked out for Neem I, but it worked out for rich role. Okay, great. Two or three people out of the millions who have tried and trust me, I've tried for 20 years or more and had worked as hard as anyone and was obsessive compulsive workaholic and would stay up 24 hours straight and all this, you know, bad health.

Bryan (31:02.702)


Robert Cheeke (31:24.587)

habits that I was just obsessed with productivity and workaholism and all that. And that wasn't the answer. You know, I was doing a lot of things that I was passionate about that would make me just work all through the day and night and not sleep, but I wasn't necessarily good at some of that stuff. And it, it cost me in the long run and it, it wasn't serving me or, or serving my mission of helping animals as effectively as I could have. So to unpack that

Bryan (31:34.818)


Bryan (31:45.57)

That's right.

Robert Cheeke (31:54.219)

you've got to find what you're good at. And I ask some of those questions in the book about that. There's even websites you can go to help answer questions. Because some people, like if I ask you, Bryan, what you're good at, I ask you right now on the spot to tell me some things that you're good at. You could give me some answers and there's a very high probability that you're wrong. It's because you're blinded by your own bias of what you enjoy.

You'll say, no, I'm good at this because I enjoy it. Those aren't the same. And so even if I answer that, even having written books on this subject, because it's been a part of, even back in my fitness books, it's kind of a part of that too. Like knowing when, you know, like I was a better runner than I was a bodybuilder, but bodybuilder gave me a vehicle to be more effective for veganism, because anyone knows you can be a thin runner on a plant-based diet. It's kind of the joke, right? But...

Bryan (32:50.548)

That's true.

Robert Cheeke (32:51.431)

but to be a 220 pound muscular vegan man is difficult to do. And I wanted to show you could do that. So that's what I did. But I think you have to have some of that self-awareness and really audit yourself and be open to sincere feedback even from yourself. Like it's hard to do. It's hard to say. And I've actually even right before this conversation with you.

I was having a conversation with my best friend about some of the struggles that I'm facing right now in marketing my new book. It's totally different than my last book in every way possible, not just the book itself, but in marketing the book. It's completely different. It's totally different, the approach that I'm taking for all kinds of fundamental and foundational reasons.

I was even using those terms, like I'm self-aware enough to realize this. And I was telling my friend this, like I know you're probably thinking it, is what I'm telling my friend. I said, I know based on my last message, I just gave to you, I gave him this like six or 12 minute audio message, two separate six minute audio messages with some of my sharing some of my struggles. And I said, but I wanna also, I said, I'm on a podcast in 90 seconds, but I also wanna say, is this what I said?

Bryan (34:05.686)


Robert Cheeke (34:08.583)

I'm on in 90 seconds, but I wanted to let you know that I'm self-aware enough to realize X, Y, and Z. And some of that hurts. Like it hurts to say, I'm just not that guy. I just hung out with, and it's almost impossible to not compare yourself to others. I just hung out with Neemai Delgado. We had a great hour and a half conversation in person in Toronto. I hung out with Rich Roll the week before that. I was with Michael Greger.

like five times in the last five months, it feels like. And in dinner with Carly Baudrug, who's the best-selling plant-based author in the world right now. And I just, I'm not them. And I always wanted to be, like I wanted to be where they are and that didn't work out for me. And that hurts a little bit because I had that dream and that goal and I had some missteps along the way, including following my passion

better at and I should have probably embraced those and been an innovator in that space when the opportunity was there, but I didn't do it. And, you know, all I can do is look back now and reflect on that and try to make some adjustments and improvements moving forward. And it's not that I compare myself to Nimai or to Rich Roll or to...

Bryan (35:18.807)


Robert Cheeke (35:33.735)

you know, Tori Washington or Natalie Matthews or whomever it is, or all these authors who are, you know, Will Boleswitz, who are far exceeding anything that I ever achieved. But it allows me to reflect on, you know, what I'm really good at. And for example, something is kind of falling into my lap right now where I'm the guy for whatever reason that so many authors are coming to.

for support. Even the best and most popular authors in the world, they come to me, sorry, most popular vegan authors in the world, I should say, plant-based authors in the world. And some actually are still some of the best in the world, you know, even though they are plant-based, they're still some of the best. And they come to me for all kinds of advice because I'm pretty good at...

book launches and book marketing and navigating the space and working with agents and working with ghostwriters and working with co-authors and working with major publishers and setting up a tour and going to bookstores. And so I have to kind of recognize some of that and realize that I've got shortcomings elsewhere and maybe there's even a new business in finding me as a consultant or...

Bryan (36:30.83)


Bryan (36:51.266)

That's right.

Robert Cheeke (36:54.487)

publicist or something where I'm talking like really some incredible names in our space who just sell hundreds of books and New York Times bestsellers and all this they come to me for help, for questions, for support, for guidance and of course I've been on the New York Times list. I've got my books in nine languages worldwide. I've toured all over the planet. So I do have some of that background, but I never focused on that.

Bryan (37:05.334)

Well, I...

Robert Cheeke (37:24.815)

I never focused on my strength in helping others. And then I realized really more recently that, man, I'm really damn good at that. So.

Bryan (37:34.506)

Yeah, I have to say from my side, sitting in this chair, Robert, you've had a very, very successful career and I don't think you're done yet. You're pivoting in lots of different areas and I would love your help in 10 years to write and launch my book with real many plants or something like that. Because I think there are a lot of real men who are eating plants that you have set on their journey in one way or another. So I do wanna look towards the future a little bit with you here.

So as we're wrapping up, what do you sort of see as the future of the vegan movement in the next five to 10 years? And then, you know, hit us one more time with when does the book come out? And what can we do as a community to help you and how do we get in touch?

Robert Cheeke (38:21.055)

Yeah, thanks, Bryan. First of all, thanks for having me and for spending time with me tonight. I appreciate that. And I have an entire section of the book near the very back of the book about a vegan future. I think it's called toward a Vegan Future. And I share some thoughts there about that. Basically, I think what's important for us to recognize is that the majority of the world, 99% of the world's population do not base their...

eating decisions on the same foundational beliefs that we share. Meaning that if you ask a vegan or a plant-based eater, they will tell you they mostly make their decisions based on animals, the environment, and their health. These are not at all what 99% of the population base their decisions on when it comes to choosing foods to eat. It has nothing to do with that. It has nothing to do with animals, the environment, or their health.

It has to do with taste, cost, and convenience. That is what drives the decision-making for what we decide to put on the end of our fork and put on our dinner plates and what we put in our bodies. It is taste, cost, and convenience, end of story. Sure, there's a few cultural beliefs and religious beliefs and generational stuff and habits we picked up and all that, but at the end of the day,

really what it's about is taste, cost and convenience. And so if we are going to compete on a large scale, we need plant-based products to compete and win on taste, cost and convenience. End of story. We've had this animal rights movement for six or seven decades. People are not getting on board. That we have these quotes that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we'd all be vegetarian. Not true. Most people know their food comes from factory farms. They don't care.

It's cheap, it's tasty, and it's on every street corner, and that's what they care about. They're worried about their bills, they're worried about rising costs and economics, they can feed their families something that's deep fried and salty and cheesy and tasty, and they love it. And we have to compete with that because there's beautiful quotes all throughout my new book that various experts share that we as vegans, we think that if we just had

Bryan (40:29.76)


Robert Cheeke (40:45.563)

more data or more information or better statistics or more convincing arguments. No, that is not what people base their decisions on. It's not based on logic. It's not based on winning arguments. It's winning people over. It's winning omnivores over with plant-based food. So if we are going to see a vegan future, it's going to have to be through innovative food and beverage technology. That is cultivated meat. That is precision fermentation. That is plant-based alternatives. And that is

citizens, governments, schools, countries, individuals, all getting on board with that. It's going to take all of that. It's going to take educators. It's going to take politicians. It's going to take lobbyists. It's going to take for-profit and non-profit companies and organizations. It's going to take each one of us to stand up and vote with our dollars. We can. We can get close to a vegan future. I'm under no illusion that we're going to have these

Bryan (41:38.21)

That's right.

Robert Cheeke (41:45.175)

these moral belief systems, you know, that we're going to not cause any, you know, excessive or additional unnecessary harm to animals as a collective species of humans. We're not going to do that, but we can change the way meat is made. We can change the way dairy is made. We can change the way eggs are made. And we're already doing that. And we can scale that. That's the future of veganism.

Bryan (42:06.702)


Robert Cheeke (42:09.379)

And you can read all about that in the Impactful Vegan. And speaking of that, to answer the latter part of your question, I have a website,, where you can not only go there and find out a bunch of information about the book, you can also download a free chapter. You get a 31-page PDF of the free introduction and chapter one. So you go see if this book is for you and learn all about it. You can also...

If you do preorder, and I hope that people do, it's a great book, you can preorder and also get hundreds of dollars worth of preorder bonuses, which is very common in book launches these days, and something that I put together with wonderful people like Chef AJ and others who contributed to it. And you can also find me on social media, Robert Cheeke, E on the end, C-H-E-E-K-E. So find me at Robert Cheeke or Robert.Cheek or whatever it is, search Robert Cheeke, and you can also find me.

Bryan (43:02.798)


Robert Cheeke (43:04.455)

at Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness. And as you mentioned, I do have a decent audience out there. I've got over a quarter million followers on my Facebook page, where I reach sometimes up to 54 million people in a month when I have posts that go viral. So I've got usually thousands of new members joining that page every single month, including 3,000 who joined last month. And so that's Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness on Facebook. And of course, I've got all the...

Bryan (43:27.182)


Robert Cheeke (43:33.491)

Instagram and everything else. Sorry, sorry. Wife calling in.

Bryan (43:37.522)

No, that's no, that's totally good. I mean, we will make sure that we put your links all in the show notes. And that has been an awesome, awesome episode, Robert. We really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing some tips and tricks for some of the entrepreneurs out there that are hoping to follow in your footsteps and help you make that vegan future that you painted for us a reality. So we really appreciate you coming on the show and good luck with the book launch. I know I've got my copy pre-ordered. I hope you have your copy pre-ordered out there.

and let's help support Robert and get him another New York Times bestseller out there. Any last thoughts, Robert?

Robert Cheeke (44:12.439)

Bryan, thank you so much. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity and I'm grateful for the time we spent today and thank you for all you do as an impactful vegan, making a difference in the lives of others. So I've deep gratitude for all that you do and thank you for shining light on vegan businesses and individuals and entrepreneurs and those who are trying to make a positive difference in the world. So I salute you, Bryan, and thank you for all that you do.

Bryan (44:39.906)

Thank you, Robert. Yeah, so Robert and I have been collaborating on a few other things and we'll tell you that sometime soon here in another announcement. And we're excited to keep collaborating with you, Robert, and we wish you lots of luck on your book launch here. So that is all the time we have for this episode of Plant Based on Fire. Thanks again for joining us, sharing your insights and experiences with us. Until next time, everybody, keep that fire burning.



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