Appearing in the pages of Men’s Fitness, Rich Roll was deemed one of the world’s 25 most fit men in the world. A devoted husband, father, full-time lawyer, and personal coach, Roll recently completed his training for the 2009 Ultraman World Championships—a grueling race comprised of a 6.2-mile swim, a 261.4-mile bike ride, and a 52.4-mile run. “Fit” might be an understatement. An unwavering work ethic combined with Roll’s balanced, vegan diet helped Roll finish the November race in an impressive sixth place overall. While it seems like the superhero-like athlete wouldn’t have a moment to spare, he found a way to fit in some quality VN-time for a closer look at his successes, challenges, and upcoming projects.
VegNews: Do you now consider yourself a professional athlete, or is practicing law still your “day job”?
Rich Roll: Although I have an array of very supportive product sponsors, to date I have never been paid by a sponsor or to compete. I am working towards a more professional approach to my mission, but I am currently very much an amateur despite the fact that I train a bit more than most, putting in an average of 25 hours weekly. I make my living as a full-time entertainment attorney, managing a boutique law firm I founded several years ago here in Los Angeles.
VN: In your coaching, do you encourage clients to adopt a plant-based diet?
RR: I find that preaching is counter-productive and therefore I focus on simply sharing my personal experience—what has worked for me, what hasn’t, and why. I encourage experimentation with a plant-based whole food regime, but the extent of the encouragement often depends upon a client’s openness. I’m happy to say that I have played a small part in helping a variety of people transition away from animal-based foods.
VN: What’s the most rewarding thing about your life as an athlete? The most challenging?
RR: What has been most rewarding is the unexpected response I have received. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have contacted me, sharing the intimate details of their health struggles and thanking me for the inspiration and the motivation to change. The most challenging is balancing the training regimen with not only my professional obligations, but my role as a husband and father of four children. It has forced me to become very organized and efficient in all my affairs, excising all non-essential distractions from my life.
VN: How does veganism affect your training?
RR: What I find most striking is my ability to recover very rapidly between workouts. Despite a very heavy volume of training, my appetite does not spike, which I attribute to the high nutritional value of the foods I am eating.
VN: What projects are you currently working on?
RR: My wife and I are finishing up the first edition of a self-published cookbook entitled Jai Seed, which will be available for purchase through my website this month. I am also working on a longer biographical/inspirational book, and I have a television project in development. It’s an inspirational reality-based program where I help others actualize their health, nutrition, and fitness goals.
VN: Tell me about your company, Jai Ultra Multisport Training Camps, Retreats, Nutrition Products & Garments. Do you already have camps or are they coming soon?
RR: Prior to the births of our two daughters, my wife and I produced high-end yoga retreats in five-star international locations with well-known LA-based yoga teachers. This spring, we are re-launching as “Jai Ultra” and will be offering retreats and training camps that will entail plant-based nutrition, cooking, yoga, healing, and multi-sport training. My wife is also experienced in the garment industry and had a line of high-end women’s attire many years ago. With her experience, we are developing some simple, branded garments, including t-shirts, and running, cycling, and yoga sportswear, which we intend to slowly roll out by mid-2010.
VN: What role does veg activism play in your life?
RR: Over the last year, I have begun to educate myself on issues ranging from factory farming to greenhouse gas emissions and animal rights. This is slowly translating into advocacy, including a video interview with PETA. I think this is a wonderful time—an unprecedented period in our history when people are more responsive than ever, ready to not only hear the message but willing to implement change.