Rob Dolecki will hop fences, risk arrest, and sleep in moving vans to get a good photo, but he can't stomach coffee or pistachios. He travels around the world riding bikes and shooting BMX photos, occasionally stopping to rest at his home in Philadelphia, which he shares with his girlfriend and two cats. He is Staff Photographer at DIG magazine. View his recent work at www.digbmx.com, at his website, and follow him on Instagram: @doleckivisuals
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I stopped eating meat and eggs in 1996, which transitioned into weaning myself off of dairy over the following year. Veganism was just the obvious next step for myself after the personal progression of my outlook on living in a positive way (from health, ethical, spiritual and environmental aspects).
How long have you been vegan?
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
A body that functions as efficiently as I could possibly want.
What does veganism mean to you?
It’s the most important way for me to show respect daily for everything that also lives on Earth.
What sort of training do you do?
I wouldn't necessarily call it "training," but I ride my BMX bike about 2-6 days a week. That can involve trying to cruise a skate park, my neighborhood, or trails (BMX dirt jumps) like a maniac for anywhere from an hour to most of the day. I also pedal around with an excessively large camera back weighing over 40 lbs a few days a week. Thanks to the encouragement my lady Nicole, I may actually make yoga a more common practice too. I’ve done a few classes, and man, that will stretch your body and stress muscles in ways I never thought possible. It’s also enlightened me to the fact that I am absurdly not limber in certain stretches.
How often do you (need to) train?
Whenever I have the urge to ride my bike, or the need to shoot BMX street photos. Both are usually at least a few times a week, on average.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
If someone wanted to be an assistant and carry my camera bag around, I would gladly “train” him or her.
What sports do you play?
Freestyle BMX takes up most of my free time. Occasionally, I’ll push around on a skateboard, shoot some hoops, or attempt to bodyboard.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans, and how do you address this?
That veganism is unhealthy. It can be, if all you ate were French fries and bagels. But, based on everything I’ve ever been exposed to, the evidence is more common than ever these days that a whole foods plant-based diet is the most beneficial diet; the proof is in the chia seed pudding.
What are your strengths as a vegan athlete?
Lots, but probably the two main things from an athletic standpoint are most likely common goals of any athlete- strength and stamina.
What is your biggest challenge?
Finding a delicious meal in certain food deserts around the world, especially when there is a language barrier.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
I'd say so. Outside of the occasional light-hearted jokes, I usually encounter nothing but respect and tolerance for how I choose to eat. Sometimes there is a lack of understanding why, but I wasn’t any different when I was in my early twenties and younger.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Even though no one in my family besides Nicole is vegan, everyone is very respectful of my eating choices, even if turkey is the main dish being served at Thanksgiving dinner.
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan, and how do you respond?
Usually, they say how they could never do it. I thought the same thing over 17 years ago.
Who or what motivates you?
Trying to enjoy every day that I can.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast: At home - any combination of fruit, green juice, green smoothie, and steel-cut oatmeal, occasionally homemade whole grain waffles or pancakes with a variety of healthy and delicious toppings. On the road - whatever I can get my hands on.
Lunch: At home - any combination of a veggie sandwich on Ezekiel bread (avocado, hummus, etc), homemade soup, salad, fruit, etc. On the road - whatever I can get my hands on.
Dinner At home - Any combination of salad, lightly cooked greens, squash, beans, tofu scramble, veggie and bean/rice pasta casserole, bean tacos, polenta, stir-fries, etc. Occasionally eating out at Ethio (Ethiopian), Vegan Tree, New Harmony, The Nile, Soy Café, Essene buffet, Govinda’s, Vgë, Mi Lah, and Su Tao restaurants in the Philadelphia area. On the road - whatever I can get my hands on.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy): At home - fruit, banana and chocolate shake, apple crisp, avocado mousse, air-popped popcorn, rice cakes with almond butter and apple butter, homemade trail mix, coconut date rolls, homemade sugar-free, gluten-free cookies, etc.
On the road - Larabars, fruit, hummus and veggies, and on those occasions when I'm unprepared and stuck at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, occasionally I'll eat some kind of junky chips for a snack.
What is your favorite source of:
Protein - any type of beans
Calcium - dark leafy greens
Iron - lentils and dark leafy greens
What foods give you the most energy?
Smoothies, green juices, bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with walnuts, blueberries, flax seeds and soy/almond milk.
Do you take any supplements?
Multi-vitamin, zinc, vitamins C and D, and green powder a few times or more a week; B12, glucosamine, DHA & EPA a few times a week.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - exercise, and eat lots of beans, unprocessed fats, and greens.
Losing weight - exercise, and minimize the excessive oil, fried foods, sugar and white foods.
Maintaining weight - exercise, and eat a whole foods, plant-based diet.
Improving metabolism - exercise, and eat a whole foods, plant-based diet.
Toning up - exercise, and eat a whole foods, plant-based diet. (Recurring theme here)
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I’m not one for preaching about something that works for me on a personal level. I just do what I do, and someone is interested, they may realize that if I can do it, they can too.
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Get a bike and just start cruising around.