Healthy Living
Plant Power-Fueling Athletic Excellence      
Welcome, energetic viewers, to this week’s Healthy Living featuring two vibrant fitness and nutrition experts who will discuss why the vegan diet is the best choice for those seeking to achieve peak athletic performance and life-long health, as well as the advantages of regular exercise.

Vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier of Vancouver, Canada has been competing professionally since 1998, and in the past decade has achieved top 20 finishes in Ironman triathlons, non-stop competitions involving a 3.86-kilometer swim, a 180-kilometer bike ride and a 42-kilometer run.

Mr. Brazier is also the author of several books, including the best-seller “The Thrive Diet,” which introduces readers to the plant-based, whole-foods lifestyle. In addition he’s a popular speaker on exercise, nutrition, and the environmental benefits of the vegan diet, and has his own line of convenient, vegan meal-replacement products called Vega.

Lindsey Von Kleist is a vegan professional master fitness trainer at Xclusives Complete Fitness Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California, USA, who counsels clients on diet, daily exercise plans and wise lifestyle choices. Both Brendan and Lindsey see more and more athletes and fitness enthusiasts embracing the vegan diet because of its many benefits.

There are fortunately a lot more athletes who are starting to eat plant-based (foods). Vegan athletes are becoming less and less unique and within 10 to 15 years I think that will basically be the standard. I don’t think athletes will eat animal products anymore, not ones who want to be competitive.

I really think that’s the way things are headed. And we will see records being broken too. Athletically we are going to continue to see better and better performances. And part of that is going to be attributed to their better nutrition. So I think it’s going to play a big role in the future of sport.

I have a lot clients who are actually open to cutting out all meat, and then we just start on the dairy and I have some more, more open than others. But I have a lot of people really open to the idea. And they're actually really surprised, especially my clients who cut out red meat and poultry, that they feel so much better right away. I mean the results are pretty immediate how they feel, as soon as they're done cutting those out of their diet.

They (athletes) are noticing better recovery times from eating more plant-based foods, which means they can schedule workouts closer together, which means they can train more, which means they improve faster. So there is some really good, base things that are helping athletes to improve performance.

And reducing inflammation too by eating more alkaline-forming foods helps improves muscle functionality. And when muscle functionality goes up, inflammation goes down. When inflammation goes down your muscles are able to lift heavier weight and lifting heavier weight makes you stronger.

So it doesn’t necessarily make you a better athlete but it does allow you to train harder, which is what makes you a better athlete. So it will pave the road basically to better athletic gains. And like I say, a lot of top-level athletes are experiencing this and realizing that more plant-based, whole foods are going to boost athletic performance, so that’s definitely happening.

Some people still mistakenly believe that vegans don’t get all the vitamins and minerals they need. This notion is based on myths and misinformation, since research has consistently shown that plant-based foods help improve one’s health and well-being.

Do you find yourself coming up against the misconception that a vegan diet is weak in nutrients?

Yes, very, very often. I try to keep a lot of literature here that supports not only the actual physiology that human anatomy, which would support a herbivore diet, a vegetarian diet, but also proof of other vegetarians and athletes, high- performance athletes that have stuck to very strict vegan diets and could out-perform any of us here in the gym. I find a lot of times it's a misconception about, “Where do you get your protein from?"

And I tell them a lot of times, not only plants are very rich in protein, but it's just more absorbable. So your common way of getting protein out of your meat, your meat might have a quote-unquote "higher ratio of protein," but how much of that is even being able to be absorbed, because our intestines are not really made to be able to absorb protein through the intestinal tract, through breaking down something as acidic as meat into the body.

You have the Silverback gorilla, who has 98.7% the same DNA as us. They are the strongest land mammal alive. They eat only plants’ protein, and imagine how big they get, and how muscular, and their digestive tracts and their physiological responses are the exact same as ours. So, if you are worried about getting strong enough, that should be your great example how you can take a mammal who is very similar to us, and have them be strong and muscular, and not eat a single piece of animal-based protein.

Mr. Brazier is deeply concerned that people are fueling themselves with animal-based foods because of their artificially low prices, and thus severely damaging their health.

The resources that it takes to produce meat is huge. The oil, the land, all these things cost an incredible amount of money, so subsidies which come from taxpayers and the government is needed to prop-up the meat industry. And that’s why you can go to McDonald’s and buy a hamburger for a dollar and 99 (cents). It should cost, if it’s a free-market system, about US$35 dollars, based on the oil it takes to produce and all these things.

We are inadvertently supporting that through our taxes, which is frustrating for a lot of people who don’t want to see that happen and… And then of course we also subsidize the health care system. We make people sick by having the food so cheap because it’s subsidized and then they buy it and then they get sick, and now we have to bail them out by having a healthcare system. So we’re funding the cause of the problem, and then we’re funding a symptom-treating medical system.

Incorporating an exercise routine into one’s daily life is a smart move for many reasons. The respected US-based Mayo Clinic says that exercising helps prevent or manage chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes and also aids in controlling one’s weight and getting a good night’s sleep.

So when you exercise, you stimulate the right side of your brain, which is the creative side, and that helps creative thought flow. So the idea is to help turn that on, turn on creativity. And I also focus on not just the outcome of the exercise, but the process of exercising itself. It’s about trying to make it a lifestyle.

I like what I call "a realistic workout." I don't like to use a whole lot of machines, I will use some to help isolate muscles, but what I like to do is body weight, where you're lifting yourself up, you're pushing yourself down, you're doing squats and lunges and push-ups. My workouts consist of about a half-hour workout. I choose a body part, either an upper body or a lower body.

I do cardiovascular (exercise) intervals in between, jumping jacks, or sometimes just jogging and play some jump rope, and then I have them do a set of core exercises and a lot of stretching. I'm really big on yoga and stretching to help get a lot of oxygen to the muscles and then I have them finish up with cardiovascular (exercises) on their own. And somebody who would be maybe nervous about working out, or doesn't think they can do it, these exercises are really cool, and they're so useful, because they mimic things you would do in real life.

You would go grocery shopping, you would lift this heavy bag of groceries, you would set it down, you would put the groceries away, so I do a lot of exercises that mimic bending and lifting, and pulling and pushing, things that make your body strong for real life, not just to show off your muscles at the beach, but to be utilized in daily life to make you healthier, help prevent injury and help prevent disease forming in older age.

What are some of the misconceptions about physical training that you come up against?

Well, I get a lot of misconceptions that people think that they need to do a ton of cardiovascular exercise to lose weight, and actually, cardio can be a hindrance if you want to maintain long-term weight loss. What happens is the body can only burn fat in what's considered your target heart rate.

For any one person, that would be the number 220; they would minus their age, and that number you would want to do about 75 to 80% of that, and that would be your target heart rate. Outside of that target heart rate, the body can no longer use fat as an oxygen source, and it'll start to cannibalize the muscles, taking out the oxygen and the water.

So what happens a lot of times is people are running, and running and running, trying to get this weight off, and the body starts to cannibalize their muscles; muscles are what keeps fat off in the long run, so I really try to promote people coming in here and doing a lot, a lot of body weight, and then... very minimal cardio, some nice brisk walks, some jogs. Once a week I take all my clients out on a five-mile hike, but the majority of them walk it and that’s more for the long duration.

Our thanks go to Brendan Brazier and Lindsey Von Kleist for introducing us to their active, vegan lifestyles, and for providing us with wonderful advice on conditioning and wellness. May you both enjoy continued success in your careers and reach even more people with your constructive message about realizing optimal health and the wonders of the plant-based diet.

For more information on today’s guests, please visit the following websites
Lindsey Von Kleist
Brendan Brazier
Books by Mr. Brazier are available at
His vegan food line is available at

Thank you spirited viewers for your company today on Healthy Living. Coming up next is Science and Spirituality, after Noteworthy News. May we always strive to care for others.

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