Vegan in Topform – Interview with Brendan Brazier
Brendan Brazier, known for his book Vegan in Topform, has accomplished a lot in the sports world, all on a vegan diet. In an interview with us he shares his motivation, where he gets his energy for sports, and how it was working with Hugh Jackman.
- Brendan, you became vegan 20 years ago. What made you change your diet? What was your motivation?
I just wanted to eat better and be a better athlete. I thought if I could recover faster, then I could start training again faster. I knew that diet played an important role and as a result, I tried many different diets. One of which was plant-based. At first it was difficult, but after a while I started to see the positive effects.
- You were a professional Ironman triathlete and lived off of a plant-based diet. Why did you think a plant-based diet would be beneficial to you for this?
I just wanted to increase my performance, so at 15 I started to eat only plant-based foods. The vegan diet has brought me the best results.
- Why is your Thrive Diet so unique? What is the central idea behind it?
The Thrive Diet is about high efficiency. There are certain foods that require little energy metabolism from the body, and at the same time they give you back a lot of energy and nutrients. Stimulants like sugar and caffeine are not included in the Thrive Diet. Although these give you a push, it’s short term, and the body has to pay for it later because it falls into a hole. Instead, I rely on foods that reduce cortisol levels, so you can sleep better and deeper, be less tired, and in the end not have to rely on stimulants. The aim is also to avoid (or reduce) the most common known allergens which can cause inflammation, rashes and digestive problems. So for example, wheat, gluten, corn, soy and dairy products.
- Your diet is very popular, especially among runners and athletes. However, many people work most of the time, sitting in an office, and move very little throughout the day. Is the Thrive Diet also suitable for people with a more inactive lifestyle?
The Thrive Diet is suitable for everyone, because it is based on the concept of health – and that is something everyone wants, whether they’re an athlete or not. The advantages are clear: less inflammation in the body, better sleep, less cravings for sugar and starchy foods, less weight problems, more stable hormone levels. That’s good for everyone.For athletes, it’s often not so much about health, but about performance. For a time, that works out, but eventually you start to get injuries and might have to end your career. I think it is beneficial to focus on the long-term. People who do little or no sports can also use the recipes from the Thrive Diet. You just have to eat less overall. I always recommend starting slowly, perhaps replacing 1 or 2 meals a day…not too much at once. And you should focus on adding good food, instead of focusing on what you can take away from your diet. This works much better!
- What advice would you share with people who don’t have any experience with a plant-based diet, but want to start?
I recommend drinking lots of smoothies. They are energy- and protein-rich and have many important nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids…all depending on what you put in your smoothie. If you like smoothies, you can enhance them with food supplements like VEGA, for example, which is one that I developed. Or you can try the smoothie recipes from my book – smoothies are a great way to start!
- Which of your recipes is your favorite? And what recipe would you recommend after a long, tiring day?
I recommend the regeneration pudding after a long workout. It’s really easy. I eat quinoa, avocado, a little salt, a little sprouts, sprouted bread and salad. And smoothies are of course super easy too. This means I don’t spend too much time in the kitchen. I travel so much anyways.
- We, as a vegan supermarket, naturally hope that more and more people want to try out a vegan diet. Do you think veganism is just a trend or do you think it can really become established as a diet?
Yes, the trend is real. The reasons are all quite different. One the one hand, you have people who want to try a vegan diet because they heard it was healthy. And others want to try it for ethical or environmental reasons.In addition to that, it’s all about feeling better and being more efficient, and people are discovering that a plant-based diet gives you all of that. Many people don’t to follow a vegan diet 100%, but they try to reduce their meat consumption. And that’s a good start!The Vegan movement is really big, and many people want to eat more whole foods. I think this diet will definitely become established.
- We just have to ask: how was it working with Hugh Jackman for the action movie Wolverine? Hugh was so excited about your vegan Thrive Diet that he even wrote the foreword to your book Vegan in Topform. How was it working with a Hollywood star and have you been able to “convert” any stars to veganism with your diet?
I am Hugh’s nutrition coach. A friend of mine is his personal trainer. So I only give him advice on diet. In 2009, Hugh had to train and gain 20 pounds of muscle for the role of Wolverine. He had previously gained muscle mass for his roles, and did so by taking in a lot of animal protein and carbohydrates. He was not feeling well, had no energy, had inflammation problems, and was feeling cumbersome. My book was already on his desk for a while before he started to read it.I was a nutrition coach for among others, Simon Whitfield, Canadian triathlete and Olympic champion, then for Aaron Simpson and basketball player Brian Roberts (MLB All Star). Then there was David Zabriskie, professional cyclist and Tour de France stages winner.
- What are your next projects and when will you be back in Germany?
My next book, Vegan in Topform – the Fitness Book, will be appearing in Germany in early March.