By James McWilliams
Big Bald Mike, a former strong man competitor and now competitive arm wrestler, is one of the strongest vegan athletes in the world. I’m also happy to say that, as of a few days ago, he’s also a friend. We just had a brief but meaningful conversation at Casa de Luz, an Austin (and San Diego) vegan-macrobiotic institution, and I knew immediately I wanted to learn more about him. He looks like he could rip your head off, and, truth be told, he can. But it turns out he’s a gentle and kind man who can lift over 675 pounds and cuddle a rabbit with similar passion. Here’s an excerpt from his blog:
About a year ago, I was a miserable person and I was in terrible pain… my body was broken down, and had some serious issues going on internally that I was not aware of unfortunately. I got some work scrapping copper out of old air conditioners around mid-January of 2012, and one day took a load of scrap metal to the junkyard to sell, and decided to step on the big weighing scales there (my scale only goes to 500lbs), and was shocked to read that it said 571 – I was sick to think that I had gotten to be almost 600lbs!!!
Therein lies the start of a rare journey.
The vegan world needs leaders like Big Bald Mike. He’s already caught the attention of PETA and Mercy for Animals, and for good reason. He’s a straight talker whose journey to veganism began with concerns over animal rights and has evolved to include health issues. The latter seems to be what has helped him generate an international following as he continues to shed weight, gain strength, and inspire others who find themselves trapped in a body beyond their control.
Big Bald Mike, who once subsisted on a steak and potatoes diet, reminds us that there are no “typical” vegans. There is no way to tell by looking at someone if he’s a likely vegan or not. His example drives home the message that we are all potential vegans. Mike, who has already lost well over 100 lbs., is planning to lose a 100 more before he takes his story on the road, using his own remarkable experience to reach a wider audience with his message of vegan empowerment.