“Strength must build up, not destroy. It should outdo itself, not others who are weaker. Used without responsibility, it causes nothing but harm and death. I can lift the heaviest weights, but I cannot take the responsibility off my shoulders. Because the way we use our strength defines our fate. What traces will I leave on my path into the future? Do we really have to kill in order to live? My true strength lies in not seeing weakness as weakness. My strength needs no victims. My strength is my compassion.”
Strength isn’t just about physical prowess. Strength is about character.
By this definition, vegan strongman Patrik Baboumian is perhaps the strongest man on Earth.
Born in 1979 to Armenian parents in Abadan, Iran, Patrik and his family fled the Iranian revolution when he was seven and emigrated to central Germany. By the age of nine, he fell in love with wrestling on TV and soon developed an interest in weight training. As a young teen, he got into power lifting and bodybuilding, rising quickly through the ranks to become Germany’s national junior bodybuilding champion.
For ethical reasons, in 2005 Patrik went vegetarian, accepting that this would likely undermine his performance goals. Instead, his improvement steadily escalated. So in 2011, he went completely vegan. And that’s when things really blew up for the guy they call the Armenian Viking.
100% Plantpowered, over the last 4 years Patrik has been awarded the title of Germany’s Strongest Man, racked up multiple victories at the European Powerlifting Championships and set four Guinness World Records in various strength disciplines.
We’re talking about a guy who can Bench 463 lbs. Squat 794 lbs. And Deadlift 794 lbs.
This is a long way of saying that Patrik Baboumian is stronger than you are. And believe it or not, he has accomplished all of these extraordinary, superhuman feats without the one thing long-held conventional wisdom dictates is absolutely necessary to optimally perform as an elite strength athlete: animal protein.
I first met Patrik at the 2013 at the Toronto VegFest, where I stood on the WestJet Stage at Harbourfront Centre before a crowd 1,000 deep to cheer him towards a Guinness World Record setting yoke walk — a feat that entailed carrying 1,216 pounds (550kilos) a distance of 10 meters in less than 60 seconds (which he recently bettered to a current 560kg world record, completed in just 28 seconds). Spontaneously grabbing for my GoPro, I shot this little video documenting the astounding accomplishment:
But Patrik’s greatest strength is not his physical prowess. His greatest strength is his compassion.
Breaking strongman world records is what Patrik does. But beyond the accomplishments and beneath the beast-like exterior lives a sensitive, gentle soul. An exemplary human of steadfast ethics whose conscience refuses to allow animals to suffer for the sake of his superhuman athletic goals. In stark contradiction to culturally entrenched notions of masculinity, Patrick performs his feats in the name of compassion — a threatening word too often misinterpreted as weakness that challenges predominant male gender role stereotypes and obliges us to rethink social priorities.
My hope is that Patrik’s example will open your mind. Compel you to question long-held, conventional notions concerning the relationship between nutrition and athletic performance. Reform stereotypical definitions of masculinity to embrace the responsibility mankind shoulders as protector of the voiceless. Reframe your interpretation of compassion not as weakness, but as our greatest strength. Stir you to think more deeply about your consumer choices. And ultimately inspire you to challenge your own personal limitations.
Specific topics covered include:
- breaking the world record at Toronto VegFest
- similarities between endurance sport & weightlifting
- professional wrestling inspiration
- life as a bodybuilder
- steroid use, performance-enhancing drugs & alcohol
- bodybuilding genetics
- “natural” bodybuilding competitions
- compassion for animals
- Gestalt psychology
- benefits of giving up meat
- the world of Strongman competitions
- iron deficiency, heart burn & osteoporosis from dairy
- soy protein vs. whey protein
- how family turned to plant-based
- recovering faster and training harder plant-based
- advocating for compassion from a place of non-judgment
- myth of masculinity & meat
- Patrik’s daily routine in food & training
I sincerely hope you enjoy this epic 3-hour adventure with the Armenian Viking, the Human Wolverine, the original vegan badass — my friend Patrik.
Peace + Plants,
I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange.
Thanks to this week’s sponsors:
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Background, Context & Reference:
- Book: Funktionelles Krafttraining für Helden* (in German) by Patrik Baboumian
- Book: VEGAN Ganz Anders (in German) by Patrik Baboumian
- Great Vegan Athletes: Patrik Baboumian
- Great vegan Athletes: 2 New Records For Strongman Patrik
- OZY: Patrik Baboumian, The World’s Strongest Vegan
- PETA: Want to Be Stronger in 2015? Patrik Baboumain Show You How
- PETA: ‘Strongest Man’ Eats Plants, Loves Animals
- GoodMenProject: Hear That Knocking? It’s Your Conscience
- OneGreenPlanet: Vegan Strongman Patrik Baboumian Breaks World Record
- TheStar: Vegan strongman shoulders 550 kg – a records, perhaps – at vegetarian food fest
- Ecorazzi: Patrik Baboumian Breaks World Record with ‘Vegan Power’
- FreeFromHarm: Patrik Baboumian, World Record Strongman: My Strength Is My Compassion
- ClearlyVeg: Vegan Strongman Patrick Baboumian Breaks His Own World Record!
- Muscle&Fitness: Vegan Lifter Reportedly Breaks World Record
- TheDiscerningBrute: Powerlifter Vs. Vegan Strongman, Plus Metal
- Hetq: Germany’s “Strongest Man” – You Have the Power to Change Your Life
- Strongman Corporation: strongmancorporation.com
Films & Videos:
- Film: Earthlings* with Joaquin Phoenix
- YouTube: Vegan Patrik Baboumian Breaks World Record for Most Weight Ever Carried
- YouTube: Patrik Baboumian – What Does This Vegan World Record Holder Eat?
- YouTube: 105kg Powerlifter vs 128kg Strongman – Strength Wars 2k15 #2
- YouTube: The World’s Strongest Vegan Is Back With Yet Another World Record
- YouTube: Longest duration holding weight, outstretched arms – Guinness World Records Classics
- YouTube: Strength – PETA Spot with Strongman Patrik Baboumian
Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:
- Mark William Calaway: American professional wrestler aka The Undertaker
- Bret Hart: Canadian professional wrestler aka Hit Man
- Owen Hart & The British Bulldog: WWF professional wrestling tag team
- Roderick George “Roddy” Toombs: Canadian professional wrestler aka “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
- James Brian Hellwig: American professional wrestler aka The Ultimate Warrior
- Brian Shaw: American professional strongman competitor
- Derek Poundstone: American professional strongman athlete
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #101:Brendan Brazier, From Professional Athlete to Bestselling Author
- RRP #120:Michael Gervais On How To Master Mindfulness In Sports & Life
- RRP #135:Joshua Katcher on Reimagining Fashion As Environmentally & Ethically Sound
- RRP #160:David Carter on How A Plant-Based Diet Made Him A Better Player & A Better Human
- RRP #189:Lewis Howes on The Myth Of Masculinity
Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.
*Disclosure:Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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