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Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness (VBF) Interview with Gregg Lowe

VBF: Gregg, please introduce yourself and give our audience a brief background of how you got into the vegan lifestyle and a little bit of biography information about you, such as where you're from, what you do, and so on.

GL: I’m an actor, born and raised in the UK, but now I split my time between Toronto, Los Angeles and London for my work. I was never a big meat-eater growing up (mostly ate just chicken and fish), and dairy had never been a part of my diet, so switching to a plant-based diet wasn’t much of a big jump for me. I first became fully aware of plant-based nutrition whilst travelling a few years ago. I was taking a year out from work to explore some of South East Asia in a quest to deepen my understanding of Eastern philosophy, Buddhist teachings, mindfulness, and mediation. I spent a lot of time in Buddhist monasteries during this time, where, of course, veganism is a way of life, and so I kind of fell into it. Then, during a two month stint in the Nepalese Himalaya, a friend gave me Jonathan Safran Foer’s illuminating book, Eating Animals, to read. That really changed the way I looked at things, what food I was eating, where it came from, and what my money was supporting. I challenge any slightly conscientious person to read that book and not question the food industry. So basically, I guess you can say I had a shift in consciousness and started to look at life through different eyes.

VBF: You're in the entertainment industry. How has your vegan lifestyle been perceived by your colleagues? Any interesting stories or interactions with other actors, producer, or others in the industry that you'd like to share with us?

GL: It all really depends on the person. Finding out I’m plant-based is usually met with surprise, followed by confusion and then usually a little accusation and eventually, hopefully, reluctant acceptance. Often I find people tend to feel that they are being judged by the choices that I make in regards to food – which is certainly not the case. When I first became plant-based, I was so passionate about the discoveries I'd made that I wanted to share it with everyone in my path and set out to convince them it was right for them too, but I soon learnt that this can be a quick and easy way to make enemies and ignite fiery family fights. So now I tend to keep my values and my thoughts to myself and only share with people who are interested or intrigued, rather than force them upon those who are not. I find this works much better for me.

The entertainment industry has a broad spectrum of characters and personalities – some open-minded and accepting; others, not so much. Because of the nature of the business, with so much ever growing emphasis put on appearance, naturally, it is important to look and feel your best. So, many people in the industry are very health conscious and mindful of what they eat and how they train. So, I often come across other actors who are either predominantly plant-based or incorporate much of the same ethos and ideas in to their lives. Hugh Jackman certainly supplemented with a lot of vegan products (specifically Vega) when we filmed X-Men last year.

VBF: With your job, do you end up traveling a lot? If so, describe what that is like. Do you have food caterers on set, do you prepare your own food, or primarily find local restaurants or grocery stores? Is it easy or challenging being a vegan actor traveling on a regular basis?

GL: I love food, cooking, and knocking back something delicious, nutritious and ethically sound. So, it’s never a chore for me to be well prepared, which is really key when you’re heading places for the first time and don't know what food will be waiting there for you. Travelling can be tough, but I usually scope out the local vegan/organic restaurants before I go. As I said, I spend a lot of time in London, Toronto and LA, so I have my go-to spots in each place, and they're pretty choice cities for being vegan. Being on set can be a bit more tricky and often requires me to plan ahead a little more… until, of course, I become good friends with the catering crew. Thankfully, on the set of X-Men, one of the executive producers was vegan, so there were always amazing vegan options at every meal time.

VBF: How would you describe your diet/lifestyle? Do you eat mostly whole foods? Do you eat a lot of international cuisine? What best describes your current approach to nutrition?

GL: I would consider my diet to be all whole foods – anything and everything that comes from the earth. I eat plenty of fruit, green veggies and salads, and I love sweet potato and anything that you can dip, spread or smear in nut butters! I occasionally eat tempeh, and I do use a vegan protein powder. Sunwarrior is my favourite, but I like to try and keep the processed foods to a minimum. Store-bought hummus and rice cakes are probably the most processed I get. Although I love cooking, I often don't have the time or the space to be as creative as I'd like, so I keep my meals pretty basic and balanced. I love Asian food, specifically Thai or Laos. They really know how to use ingredients, so fragrant and fresh.

VBF: How does fitness play a role in your lifestyle? You're pretty ripped. Can you describe your training program to us? 

GL: These days I tend to stick to bodyweight training, calisthenics, and bar work. I’m really into the freeletics approach of training right now and get great results. It keeps me lean, light, and really strong, which is where I want to be. It’s really tough, and there’s always a new challenge, so I never get bored. I probably do this 4-5 times per week and occasionally throw in some heavy compound movement workouts. I do a lot of yoga too, which is fantastic for flexibility of both body and mind. It really centers me and balances everything out. I really love to climb too, though recently haven't found the time to practice as much as I’d like. But when I do, there’s nothing I love more than getting outdoors and into nature.

I start my day, every day, with meditation – usually 20-30 minutes. This can sometimes mean getting up very early to fit it in, but for me this is such an integral part of my health, fitness, and general wellbeing that I always find time for it. I believe there are three levels of health: physical, mental, and spiritual. Each is a foundation of the other and to truly thrive in health and happiness, all three must be worked on. So, this is just as important, if not more so, than what I do physically.

VBF: Tell us about some of the projects you have been featured in. You were just in a major motion picture. What was that like?

GL: I've always wanted to be a super hero, so filming X-Men was an incredible experience. It’s the biggest film production I've worked on so far, and to work alongside some of the other actors in it was really a great privilege. I had to shave my head for the role, which initially felt very peculiar, and it was interesting how differently I was treated with no hair. Playing the role of Ink, I have a lot of tattoos in the movie which took quite some time (3.5 hours) to put on and take off each day, so the days were long, but totally worth it.

VBF: What are your current or upcoming projects? What are some of your future career goals?

GL: I've just finished filming a television series in the UK called Grantchester, which will be aired in the fall for the ITV network, and there are a few things in the pipeline for later this year. You never know what the future holds in this industry. Each job could be your last, so I try to not look too far into the future and focus on enjoying the moment and living in the present as fully as possible. Having said that, I'd like to think people will continue to employ me. I get paid for doing what I love to do, and so I just hope that will continue.

VBF: A lot of people want to make it into "Hollywood.” What advice do you have for others who have a desire to end up on TV, in movies, or to have a career in entertainment? Do you have a few tips you think are the most important? How did you "make it?" Are there things you would have done differently or plan to do differently moving forward to continue to have a successful career in entertainment? 

GL: It’s so important to be yourself. People will tell you that you have to be all kinds of things to get where you want to be. But be true to yourself – and the best version of that self that you can be – because that is what will make you stand out from the rest. Hear those around you, but make your own choices by listening to your intuition. Work hard at everything and never stop learning, keep striving and improving in body, speech and mind so that when it’s your time to go, you’re ready and waiting! Never give up and always give more than you take.

VBF: Where can people learn more about you online? Website? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? YouTube? 

GL: You can go to www.gregglowe.com
Twitter and Instagram: @greggoires 

VBF: Thank you for taking the time to share stories from your life with Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness. All the very best!