This week’s topic is: Clean, Plant-Based Whole Foods with Brendan Brazier
I am so excited to have a very special guest, Brendan Brazier, who is a best selling author, editor in chief of Alive magazine, cofounder of Vega and a former professional Ironman triathlete and a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion. Listen in as Brendan shares how he went from being an athlete to eating plant-based, and how he got involved with the shocking new documentary, The Game Changers. You’ll never look at meat the same way again!
About Brendan Brazier
Brendan is the formulator and cofounder of Vega, bestselling author of the Thrive book series, creator and host of the Thrive Forward web series, and editor in chief of Thrive magazine. He’s also a former professional Ironman triathlete and a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion.
Brendan is regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on plant-based performance nutrition, and therefore works with several NHL, NFL, MLB, UFC, and Olympic athletes. Brendan now invests in and works with socially responsible food & tech companies whose mandate is to fix our food system and reduce the environmental strain of food production.
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Kimberly : Hi Beauties. Welcome back to our Monday interview podcast. I am so excited for our guest today who is my dear friend. He’s sitting next to me on the couch in our home in Topanga. Brendan Brazier. He is a bestselling author, the editor in chief of a live magazine, the cofounder of Vega and a former professional Ironman athlete and a two time Canadian 50 kilometer ultra marathon champion. It’s a lot of running Brendan. I feel tired just hearing that. So I have so much to pick Brendan’s brain about. He is enormously, enormously well versed and knowledgeable about all things plant-based about performance nutrition, and he’s an amazing entrepreneur.
Kimberly : So we’re going to get into all of that in just one moment. I want to give a quick shout out to our fan of the week. Her name is Megie5 and she writes, “I have been making Kimberly Snyder and the Feel Good Podcast part of my morning routine and it has been so fulfilling. I have gained so much insight and connection with myself through this very well versed and motivating podcast. It has helped me in all realms, including emotional and physical wellbeing. Such a blessing to have discovered it.”
Kimberly : Maggie Five thank you so much for being part of our community. Thank you for our review, sending you a huge, huge virtual hug and sending you all the best and beauties for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week, please just take a moment or two out of your day and leave us a review on iTunes. It’s free, it’s easy. It could be one sentence and it’s just a great energetic way to support the podcast and help others find this information which could really benefit their lives. And while you’re at it, please also subscribe, that way you never miss any of these amazing interview podcasts or our Q and A podcasts which are on Thursdays. All right, so all that being said, I’m so excited that Brendan is here with us today. Thank you so much for coming up, Brendan.
Brendan Brazier: Oh, you’re welcome. Yeah, of course.
Kimberly : And you’re a Topanga person too. I know you have some property here. You’re going to come to nature.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. I’ve lived in Topanga for about seven years and now just in Venice temporarily.
Kimberly : Yes.
Brendan Brazier: Getting back to Topanga soon.
Kimberly : So when I read your bio, it’s all these different parts. You’re an athlete and now businessman and you’re just involved in all these different companies and the through line is seems to be plant-based. So how did that, it seems to maybe not take over your life, but it’s been such a big part of, the companies that you’re working on, the ones you created, how did that happen? How did it go from being an athlete to now you’re plant-based king?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, it was really just me trying to perform better. I wanted to do professional athlete. When I was in high school, my goal was to do triathlon professionally and Ironman. And Ironman triathlon for those who don’t know, it’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and then a marathon. So 26.2 miles. So a long event, which the good thing about long events is that, success in them is more dependent on just work. Just how much time and effort you put in as opposed to talent. Shorter events, if you want to be a great sprinter obviously takes a lot of work but there’s a lot of talent involved too. Whereas longer events you can offset your lack of talent with time. [crosstalk 00:03:27].
Kimberly : And mental strength.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. And, it’s funny you say that too because I never really thought of it that way just because I enjoy it. So it’s not, like I’ve been asked several times about, how do you focus for that long and how do you push yourself? And I just, I don’t. Like I just enjoy the process. I enjoy being out there. And the mental part for me really came very easily just because I enjoy it. So it was never something, some people do these hard events to try and prove something to themselves or others. And for me it just wasn’t like that. I just enjoyed being outside and running and biking and swimming. And so I thought, hey, if I can be a triathlete as a career, then that would be cool.
Kimberly : Wow.
Brendan Brazier: So that’s what I started working for.
Kimberly : You enjoy the solitude. Because it’s almost meditative.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. I haven’t raced professionally in 15 years, but when I did, I raced full time professionally for seven years and I always trained alone and I don’t know if that’s really always the best if you’re trying to be competitive athlete, but I just really liked that. I just thought that the time is very meditative and I didn’t think of it as that at the time, but I realized later looking back on it, I guess it was a form of active meditation. It was just do a lot of thinking when you’re riding a bike for six hours is like, what else do you do?
Kimberly : Yeah, you got a lot of time.
Brendan Brazier: I never listened to anything.
Kimberly : Really?
Brendan Brazier: You’re just all, you’re just out there and your mind wanders and it, maybe it’ll settle on something and you’ll start thinking through different things and I find it, yes, just really helpful.
Kimberly : And did you explore any sort of breath work practices or did you just naturally breathe? How it came to you, is that part of your performance?
Brendan Brazier: I do. I just naturally breathe. But I think there’s actually something to be gained from breathwork. And I’ve talked with other athletes too who really have focused on that and I think had I done that, it might have helped me because there’s a lot more to it than a lot of people realize that I’ve since realized. But no, I never done any formal breathwork. Obviously like the deeper breathing and when you’re cycling like belly breathing and really breathing in fully and things like that. But nothing really beyond that. Some athletes try and get it so that you can just breathe through their nose and they’re not taking air through their mouth and some find that that can help. But I’ve never really done that.
Kimberly : So then you started focusing on nutrition, you did a lot of research and then did you take baby steps? Did you try it out for yourself? Was it scary thinking, okay I want to switch to plant-based. What was the journey like?
Brendan Brazier: Well, this was about 1990 when I was around 15 and I had made the decision then that I wanted a professional career if I could have one as an athlete and then again making that connection that it’s really just about volume of work, just the longer the event, the more you can do, at that point is better, really is more as better in the beginning. And of course you can do more work if you regenerate your muscle tissue more quickly, you recover more quickly. So I started looking into recovery and what elements could help speed recovery. And so I found, there are a few things like ice baths and massage and stuff like that can help. But then I started looking at nutrition and I had no plan to try and eat a certain way. It was all performance-based, whatever could boost my performance and I tried a lot of different ways. I tried high carb, low carb, high protein, low protein. I was all different types of diets and some were better than others.
Brendan Brazier: But then I tried plant-based and at first it actually didn’t work that well because I made common mistakes. I was just eating a lot of starch and not a lot of vegetables and not… It was very simple. Just high carb diet.
Kimberly : Just like pasta.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. Basically. Right. So then I learned what I was lacking. So vitamin B12, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, complete protein and started finding sources and-
Kimberly : You were supplementing the B12, you started bringing in more supplements or were you using foods like nutritional yeast or protein powders?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, it really started off with food and blending it all together [crosstalk 00:07:43] drink, which didn’t taste very good but it was functional at work and that eventually evolved into what became Vega.
Kimberly : Yeah.
Brendan Brazier: But that took, many years later. But it was me just making it for myself. And then, yeah. And I started improving more quickly because I was able to train more. And so some of the people who were kind of my circle noticed that, I was just making these big stripes forward-
Kimberly : They’re like measurable, like your times were doing better.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. Very, very noticeably. Inflammation went down, inflammation that I didn’t even know I had. I think most people don’t even really realize. So my range of motion got better. So my efficiency got better. Obviously if you don’t have to work as hard to move a muscle, you’re saving energy with every movement so you just become more efficient.
Kimberly : Wow.
Brendan Brazier: So things like that, I never would have even considered. The flexibility is better, so your risk of injury goes down. Digestion got way better, so I just wasn’t spending as much energy digesting. I found that I started sleeping better and sleeping more deeply, which meant I didn’t have to sleep for as long, so I could sleep for seven hours instead of eight and be just as rested. So it was really like getting an extra hour a day, which was just, really nice to be able to sleep so much more efficiently. And then I was waking up rested and I didn’t crave caffeine, I didn’t crave sugar. So I was treating the cause of fatigue and not the symptom, if it works, but through stimulation, not through nourishment. So I just developed this whole kind of nutritional philosophy that I wrote about my first book called Thrive that came up.
Brendan Brazier: I did a self published version in 2004 and then it was published as a longer version by Penguin in 2007. So quite awhile back now. But it’s really just my nutritional philosophy and how I found eating, well thought out plant-based diet could really help. It was really just my own experience. Other athletes who tried it, found it worked well for them and a bunch of folks started eating that way and it helped them.
Kimberly : Well I’m glad you didn’t give up. Like you said in the beginning you were eating a lot of starch. How long was that period before you started educating yourself and was there almost like a tendency to want to go back to eating the chicken and the fish or whatever you were eating before?
Brendan Brazier: It was so long ago now, I don’t actually remember how long that took, but I do know there was a bit of a period and so what I started doing is I wasn’t eating, I kind of assumed it was just really, I wasn’t having enough calories, so I started eating more peanut butter and nuts and seeds and things like that, which helped, but that wasn’t ideal. So then as I learned more I got… And my diet isn’t low fat. I would say it’s kind of moderate fat, but it’s just good quality. Raw foods obviously raw nuts and seeds and avocados, things like that. But yeah, then I was definitely getting enough calories, but I found too that, not all calories are the same. If you can digest food more easily, you spend less energy digesting and therefore you have more energy. So I call that high net gain nutrition. So making the switch from pasta and refined carbs to things like amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, which are all technically seeds. So they do sprout [crosstalk 00:11:03] so much more efficiently. So you spend less energy and you get more nutrition in.
Brendan Brazier: So more vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants at a lower spend of energy. And that’s the way I was thinking so much so for triathlon, because every bit of energy you spend, you have to get a return in terms of fitness or what’s the point? And then you start dividing it up and you think, okay, if I spend this amount of energy in the pool, how much is that going to save me in a race? Is that better spent in running or cycling? Is that going to save me more time? So then you just, you become very, very mindful of output in return and you become obsessed with it really in triathlon because you only have so much time, so much energy. If you don’t spend that energy right and you don’t get the return, you’re wasting your time.
Kimberly : So were you charting, like the way you were approaching, it was more numerical or was it more just how you were feeling in your body?
Brendan Brazier: A lot of it was by feel, and again, this is back quite a while ago so I kept a very tight training and nutrition diary so I could see correlation between what I ate and how I performed and then it kind of work backwards. If you had a good race, you could know exactly what you did leading up to it and then start to build a bit of a template that you could then apply going forward. So that really helped me a lot. Because measuring things then too was tough. I mean maybe there are certain blood tests and things you could do, but I was also, trying to be a professional triathlete so you don’t really make much money. And I was keeping it pretty lean as far as spending of money to try to, just make enough to get to races and try and recoup that spend and any prize money or sponsorships and being very mindful there too.
Brendan Brazier: So also comes back to the efficiency thing like, how do you spend money to get to a race if you’re not going to get a return in terms of prize money or sponsorship or something that kind of propels your career forward. So it’s always that cost balance. Yeah.
Kimberly : Right. How much do oils play into your diet? You’re very similar to me. I eat a lot of seeds and nuts and avocados and sometimes I cook with some coconut oil, but I’m not in the camp of dousing my food with a lot of oil. But I’m not scared of it either.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, no, I’m very much the same and I know some folks are very, like some are no oil and just fat from the whole foods, seems to work for some people. I just really go by feel for me.
Kimberly : Well that.
Brendan Brazier: I’ve done this for so long, I’m 44 now. I started when I was 15 eating plant-based and it’s just really a feel thing if… I think just over time your body just kind of works it out.
Kimberly : So you’ve been doing this for some time now and I love this approach about nutrient dense and high efficiency. What is your take on, I read this statistic recently about biohackers, some of them take 150 supplements a day. So there’s this, wanting to tweak or cut corners and there does seem to be, fads that rise up like all the butter in the coffee and then things kind of dissipate. What do you think about that?
Brendan Brazier: Well, I appreciate people trying to break new ground and discover new things and perform better, whether it’s mentally or physically. So I do have an appreciation for that. But I personally, there’s a trade-off too. There’s the thinking about it and the focusing on it, that if you don’t do, you’re thinking about something else, which I think is a good thing.
Kimberly : Right.
Brendan Brazier: Like I don’t focus on it so much that I’m not thinking about other things. Like there’s so much you can choose to focus on. And, I don’t like the idea of taking a lot of pills and supplements either. Just remembering to and thinking and just having that part of your mindset. And I’ve gone through stages where I have taken basic supplements and stuff to see if I noticed anything and I really didn’t.
Kimberly : So you don’t take any now?
Brendan Brazier: No. Well, and I drink Vega each day and-
Kimberly : And Vega has B12.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, it has B12 from a natural source and I eat a lot of fermented foods too [inaudible 00:15:26] and sauerkraut and nutritional yeast and some kombucha and different fermented things that have B12 and eight as well. But yeah, taking a supplement of B12 I don’t think is a bad idea at all.
Kimberly : I’m so aligned with your approach Brendan. Because I feel that whole foods are part of nature. And the more we align to nature, we naturally feel good. And wellness is so much more than just physical. There’s mental and emotional wellbeing and there’s a lot of us that can go down that obsessive rabbit hole and then micromanage everything. And I don’t think we were designed to live like that.
Brendan Brazier: I agree. And again, it comes back to that output return thing.
Kimberly : Yes.
Brendan Brazier: Are you willing to spend this thought and this time and this effort. And if you are, what return are you getting? And if you don’t feel that return is worth it, then you can decide not to do it. So that’s, without really realizing it, that’s kind of how I’ve set up a lot of my life really. Just there’s got to be return, why are you doing it? What are you getting out of it? What are you getting back? And even environmentally speaking, like growing food. In my second book, I dedicated the first third all about environmental resources.
Kimberly : What’s that one called?
Brendan Brazier: It’s called Whole Foods to Thrive. And it’s really looking at the amount of land, water, fossil fuel used [inaudible 00:16:47]. And then the nutrition you get in return. A lot of people of course associate value in food in terms of calories or volume or weight when really it’s, we don’t need more calories. We need micro nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants. So looking at the environmental span, like you say, land, water, fossil fuel, and then the amount of nutrition you get back. So call that to the nutrient to resource ratio. So you want the lowest environmental spend with the most nutritional return. And again, I hadn’t even really made that connection until a while back that it’s just, yeah, really like, what are you giving up and what are you getting back and do you feel that’s a good trade? And if you don’t, then why are you doing it?
Kimberly : There’s this saying in Aryuveda, as is the micro, as is the macro. And it’s this idea that, circles upon circles, everything is one. So when we find for a lot of us, for you, for me it started with what’s the best thing for my body, the self interest is of course primary. For me it was bloating and just all kinds of digestive issues, performance. And then when I got deeper into it I was like, “Oh, the plant-based diet that’s the best for my body is actually the best for the environment.” And that was a realization that came later. It was like peeling layers of an onion and you realize it’s actually the same diet.
Brendan Brazier: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I know it sounds very similar to my whole journey too. Starting off as a 15 year old just wanting to perform better.
Kimberly : Right.
Brendan Brazier: Not just being a professional athlete and not thinking about environment at all back then. But then of course, I started speaking at some vegetarian and vegan events. When my book came out about nutrition and then I was exposed to the whole environmental side of that as well and became very interested in that. And again, just coming back to the efficiency of food production and just thinking it made a lot of sense and then looked into it more when I was researching that other book and really learned a lot and found it pretty fascinating really just, obviously so much of the land in the United States is used to grow food to feed to animals instead of to feed to people. So there’s that big loss of energy that transfer to the animals than over to the people. So there’s more efficient ways to do it of course.
Kimberly : Do you feel that 100% plant-based would be the ideal? Sometimes who was an expert said to me, “Oh we need some animal production to keep this cycle going.” Someone that’s studied it, what would you say to that?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, I know that some people talk about, I guess biodynamic farming.
Kimberly : Yes.
Brendan Brazier: And naturally, I could see how that could work because they talk about, if an animal dies and the calcium of the bones and decompose it goes back in the soil. Because minerals such as calcium are not produced in food, they come from the soil. So a plant will draw calcium out of the soil and you eat the plant and you get the calcium and some of the calcium in the soil, of course, it’s from rock and things, but it’s also from animals over hundreds or thousands, even more number of years have died. And that goes back into the cycle. It’s like forest fire. We see here Malibu and in Topanga in the spring after a big fire, the flowers are just green.
Kimberly : Oh yeah.
Brendan Brazier: Super bloom. And that’s because the cellulose, all the organic matter of the plant that’s been burned in the heat has returned back to where it came from. Because it came from the sun and photosynthesis. So it was stored, it was quarantined in the wood-
Kimberly : And it was released.
Brendan Brazier: And it was released. And then the minerals, the inorganic things that were drawn out of the soil and the plant returned to the soil. They live forever. They can’t be burned. So they go back into the soil and then that’s what makes the flowers bloom the way they are. So it is definitely a cycle and I’m sure animals are part of that cycle because of course like fossil fuel too, it’s like it’s dinosaurs, and it’s all these animals that used to live in trees and plants that are now oil.
Kimberly : Right. Right.
Brendan Brazier: So it’s part of that cycle for sure. But that’s a big question. And of course, you can produce food and you don’t need any animals to produce food. The soil has to remain healthy. So what input is going back into that, how are you getting the minerals back? And usually that’s done by, like I say, plants that have pulled them out, burn and it goes back.
Kimberly : I also think, factoring in human population and portion size and the realities of our, like the ratio of land to humans now and what we’re consuming. Some people said to me, “Oh well, almonds and almond milk take up a lot of water.” But if you look at the numbers it’s really nothing compared to animal agriculture.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, no. Of course animal agriculture is the big one for sure. Just because of that lack of efficiency. And I agree, people sometimes argue about well what are people supposed to eat and what they’re not supposed to eat. Well, there is that argument and I think maybe humans a long time ago, if they ate some, like plants, but then they ate maybe some grubs or worms or something. Maybe that was natural. I don’t know. Now like you say, I mean, I think it makes sense to look at the world as it is today and try and solve the problems of today, not of the past. And what is ideal, but with, yeah, like you say, the population and also the thing too, as the population grows, the land needed for housing is usually arable land, which could otherwise be used to grow crops. So not only are we now needing more food to feed more people, but they’re eating away at that arable land to which makes matters worse obviously.
Brendan Brazier: So yeah, again, just coming back to the efficiency and instead of growing wheat, corn, soy and feeding to cattle. We can grow hemp, we can go grow flax and shea and lentils and legumes and all these great foods that are good for people.
Kimberly : Now, Brendan, you were involved in the film, The Game Changers, which is an amazing, so thank you for working on it. So there was this part where, obviously, and a lot of our people here are listening to this, and certainly in my life, you hear resistance like, “Oh, that’s great, but my body needs meat.” That’s like the number one thing I’ve heard, “Oh, I understand it theoretically, but I feel like my body, my ancestry, whatever, I need some meat.” What would you say to that?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, I don’t think that is the case. I think if people want to stop eating meat and feel really good, they can. And some people may take a little longer, some people may take to it more quickly. But yeah, and going back to the film too, I’m one of the EPs on that. It took eight years to make and-
Kimberly : Did it.
Brendan Brazier: … it was amazing.
Kimberly : Eight years.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. James started off making it.
Kimberly : Oh, he’s amazing.
Brendan Brazier: [crosstalk 00:24:04] me in Topanga probably six years ago, just with like one camera. He just came over by himself and just with a light and a camera and a film.
Kimberly : Wow.
Brendan Brazier: And then what happened is, he talked about it with some other folks and it got attention. And then Louie who made The Cove and won an Academy Award for The Cove, heard about it and he said, “This sounds like an amazing film and I’ll work on it with you, but we would need to reshoot everything.” So James basically had to start over and reshoot it all.
Kimberly : Wow.
Brendan Brazier: But amazing project, they did such a good job and the sciences is so tight.
Kimberly : The science is so tight. What I love about it is the studies are on the screen and they’re getting such a wide range of experts and doctors from so many different fields that it almost feels like, and I know there was that whole thing where on the Joe Rogan podcast was it, Chris Kresser went on and tried to dispute a lot of the information and then there was a subsequent interview with Joe and Chris and James from the film and he basically destroyed all the arguments talking about all these different aspects.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. And it was interesting too that that Chris would choose to criticize a film, I don’t know what is his motivation or gain would be there, but then the rebuttal, like you’ve mentioned that I watched, it was almost four hours long with the three of them. And James showed up, he was prepared. He had all his notes, he’d clearly, he addressed everything. He just went through it in a systematic fashion and address the criticism very well.
Kimberly : Oh, yeah.
Brendan Brazier: And was prepared. And I think because he was so well prepared, I think Joe really appreciated that too because it showed, respect to the show and to him as a host, he’s like, “Yeah, you know what? You came on here, you’re prepared.” This other guy, he did kind of misrepresent himself as an expert. And that’s kind of what James was saying he’s like, “Well this guy, is he really an expert? That’s sort of what he’s saying he is, but is he really?” And that’s sort of like, it really kind of exposed them there. So I don’t know why he would’ve choose to be there at all but [crosstalk 00:26:10].
Kimberly : Well also it didn’t look good for him. And also a lot of the information he was using for rebuttal was, upon deeper digging was funded by people like the Brazilian cattle industry. Like all these different organizations. And that’s the problem with, there’s just so much floating out there. You really have to look at who’s behind the information and the vested interest.
Brendan Brazier: For sure you do. And you can find anything you’re looking for. If you want a study to support a theory you have, you can find it.
Kimberly : Sure.
Brendan Brazier: But like you say, you have to dig and see where that came from and follow the money back. And also too, just, James had much more recent studies, like he’s just much more up on it. I mean, he spent eight years of his life creating a film.
Kimberly : It’s incredible.
Brendan Brazier: It’s just odd to me that someone would think that he hadn’t thought these things through. I mean, he’s been, such a strong team on the film too, that take it very seriously, they’re not like just flipping about this. So it’s just sort of odd that… So, yeah. They thought like opposition to that, just thought that it would be easy to debunk but it’s [inaudible 00:27:17].
Kimberly : It’s tight.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah.
Kimberly : Well, I think culturally that the biggest issue perhaps is, it’s threatening for people. Right? Like, I’ve eaten meat my whole life, I’ve eaten chicken, I’ve eaten fish. Am I doing something wrong? My family, what am I going to do? It’s tough.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. There’s such an emotional connection to food, of course, some people are very tied to it. I’ve never personally been that way. It’s not a like a comfort for me. I like eating good, fresh, simple food. But yeah, I don’t crave certain things and it’s not… I think some people like sort of take some back to childhood and there’s so many times with food, like you say it.
Kimberly : It’s so emotional for people.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. Incredibly emotional. And if you can get away from that and just look at it very logically. But again, I just do my thing. I do what works for me and if people ask me why, I’m happy to tell them, but I’m not going to try and make someone do something they don’t want to do. It’s not up to me. But I’m happy to, point them in the right direction to looking at some science and making good decisions for them and the planet really. But yeah, I think that people do sometimes tend to just think, they want to find a way that it’s not going to work for them sometimes and not just about eating, but a lot of things like I know some people like in business too and they’ll say, “Oh well that person, got money from his parents or was given some money to start this business.” And when they realize that’s not the case and they realize that they really started in the same place and one person has just found a way to make it work and they just haven’t been as resourceful or persistent.
Kimberly : Right.
Brendan Brazier: Maybe they got distracted or… But if you’re persistent and you stick with it, you can make it look as though you had an easier start I guess. But-
Kimberly : Yeah, there’s always naysayers.
Brendan Brazier: Right. They just look, yeah, they’re like, “Oh, well that person worked really hard.” No one says that because they don’t want to feel as though they’re not working hard. So they try and find, ways that the playing field wasn’t level in their eyes. And-
Kimberly : Well that’s an outward projection, instead of taking responsibility. But going back for a minute Brendan, because again I think this is a big point that a lot of listeners write in about, “Oh, I heard this from my trainer or my husband or this, this, this.” So in the paleo and in the keto world, the science is so tight on The Game Changers. But then it’s like the only argument that can come out when it’s like, no, look at all the research on protein. Look at all the research on recovery is, oh, well my body just needs meat. And a couple of weeks ago we had Dan Buettner who is amazing. I know he’s a friend of yours as well. Looking at the blue zones, which are cross continental, like worldwide, we’re talking Japan, we’re talking Asia, Europe between Greece and Italy and then Costa Rica and the United States and they’re all 95 to 100% plant-based.
Kimberly : So it’s not, again, there’s just, besides the actual nutritional studies, there’s cultural and just longterm studies about how people have been eating in societies. So it’s hard for me, I understand the emotional connection, but it’s hard for me to honestly believe or just like intuit that some people’s bodies are that different way the same structure with the same basic, liver and amount of your case and GI tract and so on and so forth, really need meat. Of course, I understand the mental attachment, but what do you think when people, I’m sure people say that to you as well.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, no, I agree. I think it, mental and ties to certain emotional cues and even smells I’ve heard can trigger, even like dopamine or serotonin release just by association because maybe that smell, they smell it back when they were 10 and it was just like an easier time and maybe, it was just like this comfort and this safety and it triggers something that is real chemically.
Kimberly : Yes.
Brendan Brazier: So they really do get that feeling like it’s not made up. It is real but-
Kimberly : But it’s not nutritional.
Brendan Brazier: No. It’s not nutritional. And so I agree with you. I don’t think that people physically need that. I think it is a mental effect.
Kimberly : So would you give them advice for someone going through a little bit of a struggle or saying, I just feel off, I don’t feel as good saying, give it some time to transition or have some wonderful blended drinks like the Vega, which, I’m having more of now, especially that I’m pregnant. What would you say to them that are feeling that [inaudible 00:32:12], I got excited about the film or whatever book or resource and I want to be plant-based, but maybe my body needs meat.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. And maybe it could even be like it was for me in the beginning, like just getting some more calories and even just like nuts and seeds that are healthy, raw ones and so on. But yeah, sticking with it. And as James said in the film and Game Changers focused on this quite a bit, but a lot of people are low in B12, not just vegan.
Kimberly : Right. Right across the board.
Brendan Brazier: Because they talked in the film about how pretty much everyone takes a B12 supplement, some just take it through an animal like the cow right now are given B12 supplements.
Kimberly : Yes.
Brendan Brazier: And then people eat the cow and they get B12 through there, and naturally just because the cow is a median for it. So whether you take it, firsthand or through the cow.
Kimberly : Right. You’re supplementing.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. Right. So I think, yeah, good B12 supplements makes sense. And that kind of covers your bases with that. And then just eating well and having a smoothie each day is just a good way to pack a bunch of nutrients and they get protein, essential fats, fiber greens, enzymes, a bunch of greens, you blend up maybe some different flax seeds and hemp seeds, things like that. Pea protein is good. Or you can use Vega One that already has the stuff like [crosstalk 00:33:31] added or kind of make your own version, whatever. But-
Kimberly : What you formulated.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah.
Kimberly : It’s amazing.
Brendan Brazier: Back 15 years ago now, it’s been a while. But yeah, I think a good way to think about it too is adding, not subtracting. So just adding these things to your diet as opposed to feeling as though you can’t eat this any longer, before you know, when you start packing your diet full of these nutrient dense foods, if you make sure you eat those in the beginning of the day, later in the day you don’t have the cravings. Cravings, a lot of them are, your hunger signal just tells you to keep eating because you don’t have the nutrients you need. So it’s a prime [crosstalk 00:34:06]-
Kimberly : Right.
Brendan Brazier: It’s like, well you need nutrition so I’m going to make you hungry. So you go and find food and you get nutrients. So if you get the nutrients you need that’ll turn off. Whereas if people eat like white bread for example, you can eat it all day long. Your stomach will physically be full, but chemically you’re hungry. You’re still getting that hunger signal telling you to eat because you don’t have the nutrients, even though you have the food because you’re no longer synonymous with nutrition, which is a sad reality of today, but people can be overfed yet undernourished. It’s very common. So just keeping that in mind too, that the nutrient density of food makes a big difference in terms of satisfying you and telling you, you’ve had enough to eat and you’re no longer hungry. So you can get by on fewer calories if you choose those calories from good sources that have a lot of nutrition.
Kimberly : There’s so much science backing it up. There’s so much, like we were talking about, Dan’s work for National Geographic, there’s so much. So I get really frustrated when, and I know people are where they are, but when they still want to cling to these ideas that they needed, that their body is somehow different. And that’s just been a huge source of frustration for me personally. And it feels like people are moving away from paleo and then keto has been so big, but now there are at least there’s iterations like plant-based keto.
Brendan Brazier: Right. Yeah. And that’s the thing, we’ve seen this with different names on the cycle right? I remember [crosstalk 00:35:32].
Kimberly : Atkins, South beach.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. And the zone. I remember the zone when I was out there training.
Kimberly : The zone. That was like from the 90’s.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. So yeah, there was the zone and then cycle, there is, yeah, Atkins and South beach and keto and paleo and all, they just-
Kimberly : Cycle in and out.
Brendan Brazier: Out there they’re similar.
Kimberly : Oh, yeah.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah.
Kimberly : Even this, did you ever read the book, The Plant Paradox?
Brendan Brazier: No, I’ve heard of that though. I haven’t read it.
Kimberly : So a lot of people were like, “Oh, there’s so much inflammation from eating tomatoes.” And just a lot of fear around plant-based foods. But if you actually look and strip it away, it’s just another form of paleo basically. So yeah, they dress up in different forms.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, it’s true. And I don’t see that ever stopping. Right? I mean, why would it stop now? Like it will keep cycling. And I think just being intuitive too and just seeing what feels good and giving it time and eating more the way you want to eat. But knowing that, that will probably feel good as it develops. So if you want eat more plant-based, just start including more of those good nutrients and your palate will change too. Speaking from experience, I remember when I first started eating plant-based things tasted a bit bland but then what happens is your palate recalibrates and it gets more sensitive. Therefore, different types of lettuce have all different flavors that you would never notice. If you ate a standard American diet. Because, like you think of McDonald’s food or anything that’s highly flavored.
Brendan Brazier: To me it would, and I’m sure to you obviously, it would taste way over flavor, but when you recalibrate and you can eat a potato with nothing on it and it tastes amazing. You taste all the different notes of saltiness and the different minerals even in it, when your palate gets more sensitive. So that’s a really good place to be because then you never feel deprived. You never are not eating things that you want eat. You still want to eat them because they don’t have appeal to you anymore and you just-
Kimberly : It feels empty.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, it feels empty and it just feels too, like too stimulating and just too much. It’s like, music that doesn’t have any space between the notes. It’s just like this constant like barrage of sound. It’s kind of like that with fast food when you switch over to more plant-based and simple and just noticing those different notes in food and that’s great. And it’s new experience that I really appreciate. A new experience for a lot of people anyway is when they start out. So something to look forward to.
Kimberly : Brendan are you optimistic about change? I mean this film is… I mean, I can’t tell you how many people have said, I’m going plant-based because the film. So again, thank you so much for being part of it. It’s amazing. You see and you’re involved in Beyond Meat.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, Beyond Meat, good friends there with Ethan and the whole crew there.
Kimberly : Awesome.
Brendan Brazier: Been friends with them for five, six years and have so much admiration for what they’ve done and what they’re continuing to do. Ethan has been, from day one, his thing was, it’s not just about selling food to vegans. He wants to make change. So having next to-
Kimberly : Incredible.
Brendan Brazier: … animal meat and marketing to people who eat meat. And people didn’t get that in the beginning. They’re like, well vegetarians and vegans are going to shop in the meat case. It’s like, it’s not for vegetarians or vegans. There’s the change there. You’re trying to make it real. You got to get to people who are, maybe looking for an alternative because their doctors told them their cholesterol is really high and if they keep eating meat, they’re going to be in trouble. So they should try an alternative yet they don’t, want to go straight to just salads and things. So it’s an amazing product to get people started with and just get them eating plant-based. And I have several friends who have no intention of ever being plant-based, they probably never will be, but they love Beyond Meat. They probably will get over regular meal and they’ve got all their friends on it and they feel great [crosstalk 00:39:41]-
Kimberly : That’s amazing.
Brendan Brazier: They sleep better.
Kimberly : With every meal, it’s a win for the environment. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. And their bodies.
Brendan Brazier: For sure. No, exactly. And that’s another thing too is, it’s not like the company’s trying to convert everyone to be vegan. They’re just saying, “Well while you’re eating our burger, you’re vegan for the meal at least.
Kimberly : Exactly. I love that approach.
Brendan Brazier: All those people eating a bit differently. Maybe even just one or two meals a week, it’s different. That really adds up when you consider the number of people in the world who eat meat and their expansion and their very fast growth is I think a testament to that and just showing that’s, people get it and people appreciate that.
Kimberly : So beyond the hardcore plant-based people, I’ve seen, these fast food places, it’s often the picture is the plant-based burger that’s being promoted. The Beyond Meat is, do you think the motivation, like you said, is people are curious, for fast food, where they’re not all for vegan or plant-based, but they’re trying the Beyond Meat and they’re trying these alternatives. My dad goes to Dunkin’ Donuts and gets coffee and he sent me this picture with Beyond Meat product sausage or something, Dunkin’ Donuts. It was the feature product. Do you think it’s because people are like, “Oh yeah, my doctor told me to reduce my cholesterol so I could try this.” Or do you think someone tried it or they somehow got across it and they’re like, this actually tastes better. Why do you think it’s growing in that segment so much?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah I think, like you say, I think that’s part of it too. People may be not feeling great and looking for an alternative, but not quite willing to give up fast food just yet. Also too, I have a friend, I was talking to him the other week and he has twin boys who are eight and one came home from school and said to him that he wants to be a vegetarian because of environmental issues, he’d learned about this at school about, land, water, fossil fuel, all these things that are contributing to climate change.
Kimberly : And the dad wasn’t plant-based?
Brendan Brazier: No. But he’s like, “Okay, well let’s try this. Let’s get some Beyond Meat and see.” And then the whole family loved it. And he’s like, “Yeah, if I can eat this and have a lower impact on the environment and feel better.” He felt better too. And started getting better.
Kimberly : Amazing.
Brendan Brazier: Just feeling better. So now the whole family eats it, but it was through his eight year old son.
Kimberly : I love that.
Brendan Brazier: So things like that I think, that stuff gives me hope.
Kimberly : As I say, back to the question about do you feel optimistic? Because I feel that now because of films like yours, there’s just so much exposure now for people to learn about the environmental aspect as well as the health aspect and young people are generally much more, you’re not as set in their ways, they’re much more open to change. So do you feel optimistic?
Brendan Brazier: For sure. Well millennials now too, of course, make up a huge percentage of the population and they’re tied to want to know about food, where it comes from, what they’re voting for essentially when it [crosstalk 00:42:46].
Kimberly : Yes.
Brendan Brazier: Like saying, I care. I care where my money goes. I’m caring what I’m saying. I want more of a transparency. Millennials and I think other generations too, more so, but I think really prompted by millennials want transparency, they don’t want to buy something if they don’t understand the system and who it’s affecting the workers as well. Like right down the chain. Who was involved in getting this product on the shelf? And realizing the complexity of the whole system. So I think that’s such a positive step. And even something Beyond Meat did that was very smart in their early days is, I remember when they came up with their chicken and basically there’s a lot of talk back and forth in the news like is it healthy or is it not healthier than real chicken. And they basically said, like they changed the whole conversation and basically said, “Well, we’re happy to put up a streaming video in our production facility. You could see all the ingredients going in and getting pressed into our product. How about asking, the chicken producers to do their thing like streaming video in their facility.” Of course slaughterhouse.
Kimberly : Oh, God.
Brendan Brazier: So of course none of them did. So then the whole conversation now turns to transparency, not health.
Kimberly : Right.
Brendan Brazier: I said, “Okay, well, so let me get this straight. These chicken producers want us to either chicken yet they’re unwilling to show us where it comes from.”
Kimberly : And how they’re treating them and what’s going in their food. I mean it’s disgusting.
Brendan Brazier: Right. So then, of course they’re not going to show that. So then millennials are like, “Well wait a minute, why? You don’t have transparency, we don’t want to support that.” So that really helped a shift I think in the way people think. It’s like we want to know and we certainly don’t want to be told no, we can’t see how your product is being produced. So that really I think changed the dialogue a few years back there which was so positive. And like I say, it doesn’t even become about health or environment. It’s just about consumer’s right to know, what he or she is voting for. And what you’re saying is I approve or I don’t approve. And obviously if you’re not allowed to see it, how can you approve it? It made a lot sense.
Kimberly : And don’t they have a fish product now too? Are they’re working on?
Brendan Brazier: I don’t think Beyond Meat does. I think they will.
Kimberly : Yeah.
Brendan Brazier: One point.
Kimberly : That’d be great.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah. And pork I’m sure.
Kimberly : All of it.
Brendan Brazier: I’m sure they’re making all kinds of things will be coming. But yeah, getting in the sausages are amazing. The sausages are-
Kimberly : Amazing.
Brendan Brazier: … my favorite one so far from them. But yeah, I’m sure a lot more will come.
Kimberly : Well it all tastes so great. We just had a party here and a lot of people are that we know are not fully plant-based, but just having it there at the party. And we had, yeah, some of the different plant-based burger of course. And then there’s like a ground meat you can put in pause. Just exposing people to it. And people are like, “Wow, this tastes really good.” So it’s just that exposure is exciting to see. When you see someone’s face light up and you’re like, “Wow, look, you can choose this next time.”
Brendan Brazier: For sure. Well, even just last night, I was at a friend’s place, he’d hosted a bunch of people, kind of a small party and he made me the Beyond Meat sausages and everyone else got regular and he cooked them for me. He’s like, “These smell really good.” I mean, “Yeah, well try.” When he tried, he’s like, “Wow, this is amazing. I should got this for everyone.” Just like that. You’d never even bought it because like, “Oh I have this vegan guy coming over, I better make him something.” So it was the first time he tried Beyond Meat sausage and he’s like, “Wow, why didn’t I just get this?” So that was nice, just seeing. Because not having, like he’s still kind of thinking, “Oh, well I’m not vegan, I’m not going to eat this.” But there’s vegan coming over so I’ll get it for him. And I can tell he really likes it.
Kimberly : So it’s changing. The world is changing. And Brendan, you started off as a performance athlete and then you learned about the environment and now you’re involved in all these amazing brands, Vega and Beyond Meat and the doc film, The Game Changers. You’re really at the forefront here of changing thought, being a real, this term that gets thrown around a lot, thought leader, but you’re doing such amazing work. What’s your biggest goal for 2020 personally, professionally? What are you most excited about this year?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think just more in the same direction for sure. Just like 2019 has been an amazing year. The progress that we’ve seen Beyond Meat, Game Changers.
Kimberly : Oh, gosh.
Brendan Brazier: A lot happening. And I think more of that just continuing on that path. Yeah. And that’s a big thing. I just want to keep that going. I do some investing myself, but mostly I work with a firm called Lira. So my brother Charles, we started Vega, he started Lira and it’s a fund and we invest in companies that we feel we can help based on what we learned with the whole Vega experience and try and, just do things more efficiently. It took us 11 years before we sold the company. So it was [crosstalk 00:48:04]. If we can help young entrepreneurs get the resources they need and get to a good exit sooner, then we’ll try and do that. So of course companies that are aligned with trying to help people eat better and feel better and reduce environmental strain of food production, things like that.
Kimberly : It sounds like it’s really shifted for you, like the environmental aspect is a major forefront.
Brendan Brazier: It’s all a part of it. And of course as animals too, I don’t usually speak about animal welfare or anything. There are people who are much better versed at that than me, but of course, I don’t want to have animals treated that way.
Kimberly : Sure.
Brendan Brazier: But they are. And legally, of course it’s perfectly fine according to the law to do that despite having animal cruelty laws somehow they don’t apply to [crosstalk 00:49:08] it seems.
Kimberly : Yeah.
Brendan Brazier: Just obviously inconsistent and even you watch some of these videos and things of humane slaughter and kosher and all those. It’s still, it’s absolutely horrible. So, of course, I don’t want to be a part of that. In fact, I want to be someone who can help reduce that. So those things that I don’t like.
Kimberly : Is there anything you’re launching in 2020? So we have The Thrive book. We’ll link our beauties in the show notes to Brendan’s books as well. Is there anything, and of course, we’ll link to The Game Changers, which I recommend everybody see if you haven’t watched it yet. It’s on Netflix.
Brendan Brazier: Yes. Yeah.
Kimberly : Is there anything else we can find from you?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, well, fermented juice. It’s the new thing that I became quite interested in. It’s just basically my business partner in this, Mark, he got the idea from Northern Spain in the Basque region. It’s basically you just leave juice out and it ferments.
Kimberly : Nature’s process. Yes.
Brendan Brazier: And the interesting thing about fermentation is of course, one of the byproducts is alcohol, it produces alcohol, but also many different types of acids, healthy acids and vitamins B12 as well. In fact in fermentation. So we’re making it downtown in Los Angeles now called One On One Cider and it’s really that simple. There’s one that has one ingredient, just apples. You just crush apples and because it’s fermented, there’s zero sugar, so all the sugar goes away. Probiotics develop naturally and it’s just this really healthy drink that you feel good after and there’s no hangover, you’re feeling great the next day or even, a couple of hours later you can go to the gym and feel good. And then we’re doing another brand called Pop Culture that uses the same base as One On One fermented juice. But then we add adaptogens, like reishi and lion’s mane and some different mushrooms too, to help with focus and clarity.
Kimberly : In an alcohol drink?
Brendan Brazier: In an alcohol drink.
Kimberly : Wow. So you can get your buzz and you can get some adaptogens and at the same time?
Brendan Brazier: Right. And all, not just because now alcohol, some people look at it as just not as bad for you, like a vodka or something that doesn’t have sugar.
Kimberly : Right.
Brendan Brazier: It’s not good for you.
Kimberly : No.
Brendan Brazier: It’s just as bad for you. But why not have it be good for you, have probiotics have-
Kimberly : B vitamins.
Brendan Brazier: B vitamin, yeah. So we call it full spectrum alcohol. And that meaning that the fermentation process doesn’t just produce alcohol, but it produces all these other things like B vitamins. So that’s the way it’s done in nature. And it’s been done in the-
Kimberly : Love that.
Brendan Brazier: … the basket region for thousands of years and so we’re bringing that here, like you say, making it downtown Los Angeles and Pop Culture and One On One will be in all the whole foods and BevMo is in California starting early in the new year And then hopefully in [inaudible 00:52:12] after that.
Kimberly : Oh, incredible. And hopefully the whole country and the whole world.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah.
Kimberly : Well I love that approach because it’s, people are going to eat cheese. You can’t just say never eat cheese again. But then Mio goes and Cahill, there’s all these great cheese alternatives. Same thing with alcohol. And I’ve always said that this is a lifestyle. This isn’t like a 21 day thing you just do because people are going to drink. So if you’re going to drink it’s great to find better alternatives.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, and what got me into this too was, it was almost like a new tropic. I tried one with matcha and the focus and the clarity. I was just able to just sit down and get a bunch of work done in a very short amount of time. And I felt focused, I felt creative and it was good. And coming back to environment too around this that I learned, there is no added water. It’s just juice. So apples have a deep root system and it’s groundwater so that you don’t even need to irrigate them. So you’re buying apples that then you just crush no water added. There’s no cleaning out the tanks. There’s no, I believe beer it takes, I think it’s 13 liters of water to make one liter of beer.
Kimberly : What!
Brendan Brazier: Because oats, barley-
Kimberly : Oh, yeah when you add it up.
Brendan Brazier: Because then you got a water those, they have very shallow roots, so you got to water them. So it’s actually quite a lot of water. So it was a California brand. We wanted to be very mindful of water consumption, the drought and all that stuff.
Kimberly : Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brendan Brazier: Again, tying back into the environments and just the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly way also to produce alcohol.
Kimberly : Wow. Brendan, you are amazing.
Brendan Brazier: Yep. Totally for sure.
Kimberly : I just want to acknowledge you for all the amazing work that you’re doing in the planet. I really appreciate you. I love everything you’re doing from teaching people about performance, athletics to environmentally sustainable brands and companies and alcohol. I mean it’s just going to change the planet. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, you’re welcome and thank you for all your many years of work. And I know so many people have read your books-
Kimberly : Thank you.
Brendan Brazier: And they become vegan because of you.
Kimberly: We’re doing it together and beauties, for more information on Brendan, again, his books, the documentary, Vega, Pop Culture, we can link to that site because it will start to emerge as you’re looking for a healthier alcohol alternative. We will link to all of it in the show notes, so please be sure to check out everything. Again, Brendan, thank you so much for being with us today. I could talk to you all day long. We’ll like to have you back on at some point. And beauties, thank you so much for tuning in. Again, check out the show notes. We’ll be back here Thursday for our next Q and A podcast. Until then, take care. Get yourself a Beyond Meat burger, I have mine in the freezer just for emergency meals for your next get together and sending you lots and lots of love and we’ll see you back here soon.