Name: Roshan Bharwaney
Year of Birth: 1981
Weight: 168 lbs
Birthplace: Hong Kong
Current Residence: Singapore
Sports: Taekwondo 4th degree black belt (master)
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have
I create, market, deliver, and evaluate leadership and organizational development programs and initiatives worldwide for WPP, a world leader in marketing communications. I've worked for WPP in 25 countries across all continents (except Antarctica) since 2005.
In my free time I train in, teach, and write about Taekwondo. I began my Taekwondo journey while attending college and have maintained it since. I supplement my Taekwondo practices with strength and endurance training. I’ve taught Taekwondo at Duke and Columbia Universities. I currently train with the Singapore National Taekwondo Squad.
Why did you become vegan?
I became vegan in 2008 for three reasons: 1) environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry, 2) animal cruelty, and 3) health.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Growing up, I wanted to be able to do what action movie stars could do. After I began martial arts training at university, my motivation shifted. I loved the challenge, training with others, and seeing improvements in my abilities.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I make sure every meal has a good quantity of protein, carbs, fiber, and fats. I usually have oatmeal for breakfast. I add chia seeds, almonds, and soymilk. If I have them on hand, I add black sesame seeds. Like most Asians, I like my lunches hot. I usually have South or East Asian food with rice or noodles. The protein tends to be lentils, beans, soy, seitan, or chickpeas. In the evenings I often have pasta with lentils, tofu, or mock meat. I rotate the type of vegetable I use to accompany the pasta. I snack on a wide variety of foods: fruit, bread with peanut or almond butter, protein shakes, nuts, raw carrots, hummus, soymilk, vegetable and mock meat dumplings, and more. I rarely eat processed sugary foods.
How would you describe your training program?
Taekwondo has three main divisions: sparring, forms, and breaking. These days I spend 90% of my time in sparring training and the other 10% for forms. I usually train six times per week. My Taekwondo training is usually two hours long. In Taekwondo sparring you need many abilities: endurance, explosiveness (the ability to step on the gas when you need it), flexibility, strength, agility, accuracy, decisiveness, coordination, balance, technical skills, and mental toughness. You have to be a well-rounded athlete. Some of my workouts burn more calories than what some consume in a day (1,200+).
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I take a daily multivitamin that contains B12. I drink a protein shake most days (usually pea, since I eat soy quite often). Once or twice a week I take a calcium pill.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?In Singapore there are very few vegans. You can count the number on your fingers and toes. I usually have to explain what veganism is. It’s usually met with silence. East Asians are usually non-confrontational, so they aren’t usually comfortable asking why I’m vegan. In other countries it’s usually met with surprise.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Some people think the only reason to go vegan is for the animals – they don’t realize the other impacts of a vegan lifestyle. While animal exploitation is part of my motivation, my prime reason for being vegan is the impact on the environment. Also, because of my Indian background, many people mistakenly assume my veganism is linked to Hindu beliefs and that I also avoid alcohol. Another misconception I encounter is that vegans avoid gluten.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
What do you like best about being vegan?
First, that I’m doing my part to help the environment, animals, and my health. Second, I can look at animals in peace since I don’t contribute to harming them. Third, after a huge meal I can get up, walk around, and feel fine. Before I became vegan I’d often feel bloated and heavy after a big meal.
What do you like best about being fit?
You can extend the springtime of your youth for a very long time!
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
If you are completely new to martial arts, work on your endurance and flexibility for a few weeks to give you a good foundation. You’ll be able to practice techniques with better form if you aren’t out of breath, which means you’ll develop proficiency in them more quickly. Also, with better circulation and flexibility, you will be less likely to pull a muscle or have another kind of injury.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Some people can stop consuming animal products cold-turkey. Some people phase things out gradually. Both methods require discipline. I chose the second method. I cut things out gradually so that I could adjust my habits and incorporate alternatives over time. First I cut out red meat, then seafood and poultry at about the same time, then dairy, and finally eggs.
What motivates you in life?
Wanting to make a difference.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
It’s changing the perception that vegans are physically weak. It encourages vegans to be healthier so that they can be better advocates.