I am very pleased to feature Ben Buhrow as the next compassionate badass in the “Featured Athlete” series. Not only does he have a huge heart for animals, but he is also a highly motivated individual who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. I am extremely thankful to have connected with him and I am super excited to see what he accomplishes in the years to come.
This Crossfit competitor gave us a glimpse of his background and journey to the vegan lifestyle:
-Who has been your biggest inspiration to get in Crossfit?
Definitely my cousins Matt and Phil (www.veganbros.com). I had never really considered competing in anything after high school. I was not a competitive person in the least and was definitely on the scrawny side which didn’t help me out. While I was in college I eventually pulled myself into a gym and began working on getting stronger. This was mostly for aesthetic reasons originally (working on those biceps and abs ha) but it quickly transformed into a more functional form of training. I can remember Matt and Phil telling me while we were watching the 2012 CrossFit Games that they thought I had the will power to compete in a competition like that.
It had never really been something that I had thought about before but it did spark my interest. I was comfortable working out and that’s really all the CrossFit competitions are. So, I started training more frequently and with much higher intensity. The whole time Phil & Matt were mentioning how they thought I should step foot into the CrossFit arena. It took me two years two finally join my box but now that I am there, I could not feel more at home. I am so grateful for my cousins’ support and excited to unleash vegan mayhem in the CrossFit community.
What about Crossfit stands out to you than other athletic sports?
The brilliancy of CrossFit is its ability to harbor fierce competitive behavior with unmatched sportsmanship. Sure, you have the random individual who is solely out for themselves but for the most part everyone is encouraging toward and supportive of one another. There is a community aspect that I have yet to find in any other sporting arena. I played football, basketball, and ran track growing up and they were, to me, very segregated sports. Within the teams everyone does a great job of building each other up and encouraging one another. That is rarely if ever reciprocated to athletes on opposing teams. That was something that I could never really understand, nor did I want to. In CrossFit the biggest of rivals can be the closest of friends. It is truly something that I admire and think that most other sports are missing.
What do you plan on accomplishing in the year 2015? 2016?
So much as already happened in 2015 that I am beyond thrilled about. However, the most exciting event is that I am going to be offering online coaching courses globally. I cannot express how excited I am to share these programs with everyone! Each course will completely transform the lives of those who takes part, both on a physical and mental level. These will be debuting in the early Spring of 2015 so be sure to either follow me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/benny.r.buhrow) or Instagram (official_bennyb) for updates.
I will also be competing with my fellow PlantBuilt teammates at The Naturally Fit Games in Austin, TX this coming June. Standing side by side with all of the amazing athletes that make up the PlantBuilt family is definitely going to be a highlight of my year.
I am eager to start sharing everything that will be going on in 2016 but you’ll have to wait on that. One thing I can guarantee, though, it’ll blow 2015 out of the water.
How did you make the transition to being vegan? What was the final motivating factor?
For me choosing a vegan lifestyle took time. Like most transitions it didn’t happen over night and for that I am grateful. I believe that period of time gave me the opportunity to really grasp the gravity of the situation we, as humans, are in and just how much of an impact one person has on the well-being of the entire planet.
It’s funny, I am constantly asked about my lifestyle as if it’s something that I have always adhered to. People tend to forget that nearly every vegan or vegetarian out there was not born that way and chances are, their parents didn’t raise them that way. As a child I was on the opposite end of the spectrum from where I am now. I was raised on a farm in rural Illinois where we had animals that we raised for slaughter. I regularly ate cows, chickens, fish, deer, you name it and at some point is was probably on my plate. I was also a hunter and a fisherman until I turned 19.
For 21 years I didn’t have the slightest concern about where my food came from or what impact it was having on the world. This was until my close cousin and best friend decided to start living a vegan lifestyle. I can remember making fun of him and antagonizing him for making such a decision. His choice, however, opened a new avenue for me to explore and I soon found myself faced with a dilemma. After all I had read and watched about the catastrophic impact that the meat, egg, and dairy industries have on the world I could either turn a blind eye or take action to attempt to rectify it. It has been nearly 8 years now since I decided to live a vegan lifestyle. It is a path that leads to less suffering for the people, the animals, and the planet.
What setbacks have you been faced with and how did you overcome them?
Without a doubt 2013 and early 2014 were the most difficult months I’ve ever experienced. I was working a job that made me miserable, I had moved back across the country and was living in my parent’s basement (this is, for anyone who has experienced this, completely humiliating). To add to the list a lot of my personal relationships were falling apart as well. I had lost touch with who I was.
I was aware that I needed a change but the sheer thought of working toward something was crippling. I made excuses when I could and deferred to a “safe” zone at every opportunity. But one day as I was lying on the couch, reflecting over the lack of existence I had fallen into over the previous months. I suddenly & inexplicably realized that what I wanted out of life (no matter how out of reach it seemed) was attainable.
So, I began at that moment to fashion a list of goals that, until this moment, were only dreams. They were goals that I was waiting on, not working toward. It has taken time but I have shifted toward a positive mindset and now make it a point to reach one goal a month. This helps keep me driven and constantly improving on my life.
How do you stay motivated?
At this point, my purpose in the fitness world is greater than myself. The motivation comes strictly from wanting to show the entire world just how strong someone can be who leads a vegan life. Changing the mindset of one single person makes everything I do and stand for worth the pain.
Any advice for those who want to become vegan and start training?
For anyone who is looking into veganism, I always stress to do your research. We are fortunate to live in a time where there are so many readily available resources right at our doorsteps. There are a lot of great organizations out there that have reputable sources and information on healthy eating habits. For training supplements I usually recommend Plant Fusion or Vega. As far as training goes. There is no difference. A vegan powerlifter can do anything a meat eating powerlifter does. The same goes for CrossFit or any fitness realm. Stick with what you know in the gym and and don’t be afraid to ask for help!