This month we honor the former professional Ironman triathlete, two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, creator of nutritional products brand VEGA, and bestselling author of Thrive, Brendan Brazier.
I met Brendan many years ago through our mutual friend, pro ultra-marathoner Chad Weller… so a big thank you to Chad! Since then, I have had the pleasure getting to know Brendan, who is not only an incredible athlete, but also a talented author, businessman, and all around stand-up guy. On my recent visit to Los Angeles, Brendan kicked my ass on the Santa Monica stairs, but then I got to show off a bit when we took a kickboxing class the next day.
When and why did you become vegan?
I was about 16, running middle distance events in high school, and trying to improve my performance. I didn’t start off vegan—I began experimenting. I tried different ways of eating, and consuming all plant-based, nutrient-dense foods made sense. I found eating a vegan diet comprised of whole foods made a big difference in that it helped me reduce inflammation it took less time for digestion, I had faster recovery times, less cramps, and less injuries.
What inspired you to write Thrive?
The first version, only about 100 pages, was self-published in 2004. People were looking for new ways of eating and asking questions, so it was basically made up of answers to frequently asked questions delivered in a concise book form. It covered where I got my protein and iron and what meals I ate on a regular basis, along with what I ate before and after a workout, especially to speed recovery. I didn’t expect it to do well, but it did. I expanded it into The Thrive Diet in Canada and Thrive in the U.S because the word “diet” has different connotations in different countries. “Diet” implies restrictions in U.S. culture.
How did the Vega product line come to be?
I had originally planed to keep racing, and I would do a two-week tour of health food stores in Canada at the end of each season. I did that for one year, and then Vega took off. We expanded based on demand, never thinking it would grow to this point.
I had to make a decision whether I would go on pursuing triathlon or focus on growing Vega. Charles, my partner, had funded the whole project, putting everything into it even though he had a family. I wanted it to work for both of us, and I thought it would be selfish to not see it through. So I made the decision to jump fully in Vega and work on growing the business with him.
What does a healthy vegan diet plan consist of? Do you recommend eating raw?
Eating completely raw isn’t necessary, but when some foods get cooked and denatured, they are not as useful to your body. Raw is good, but simple, unprocessed, basic whole foods are most important. Items like quinoa or sprouted bread aren’t raw, but they are basic and simple, clean nutrition. Eat mindfully with a purpose, before and after workouts. Eat for what you want to achieve.
How do you suggest people make the shift to a new diet?
It’s not all or nothing. People can dabble, and that’s fine. Over time your palate will change, and you will crave basic, simple foods. People’s taste buds are over-stimulated because they eat many refined foods. But you can recalibrate it so that you will notice many different flavors when you eat something as simple as a potato.
THANK YOU BRENDAN for being such an inspiration to us all!
Learn more about Brendan Brazier, Thrive books and products, events and more on his website BrendanBrazier.com