PIZZA BRAT Pizza sauce Vegan mozzarella, shredded Sautéed mushrooms Green olives Italian seasoning
DIRECTIONS Grill brat and place in bun. Spread pizza sauce on brat. Sprinkle vegan mozzarella on top. Layer sautéed mushrooms, green olives, and/or your favorite pizza toppings. Finish with a shake of Italian seasoning.
BACKYARD BRAT Sauerkraut Sautéed onions Mustard
DIRECTIONS Grill brat and place in bun. Add sauerkraut and sautéed onions. Finish with mustard.
BURRITO BRAT Seasoned refried beans (cumin, garlic salt, chili powder, paprika) Vegan cheddar, shredded Chopped avocado Pico de gallo
DIRECTIONS Grill brat and place in bun. Spread seasoned refried beans on top. Sprinkle vegan cheddar over beans. Top with avocado, pico de gallo, and/or your other favorite burrito toppings!
CHILI CHEESE BRAT Vegan chili (canned or homemade) Vegan herb smoked cheddar Raw onion, chopped
DIRECTIONS Grill brat and place in bun. Spread vegan chili over brat. Sprinkle herb smoked cheddar over chili. Top with raw chopped onions.
Thank you to Carly and Blake from We Are Meatless for creating this meal!
Occupation: Musician, owner/instructor at Imbue Yoga
What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet? I was on and off for many years. Finally, I watched a ton of documentaries and read a few books like The Food Revolution by John Robbins. I immersed myself in tons of information and it became apparent that the only way I could live compassionately was to not eat any animal products. What really tipped me over the edge was the cruelty, the environment, and I've always been a health nut.
Did you notice any changes after you switched to a plant-based diet? My energy evened out. I'm passionate but had some depression and anxiety and feel like I'm on a more even keel now. Ethically and spiritually, I feel more in tune.
Do you participate in any vegan-related organizations? I helped start a Duluth Vegans group. I just did a benefit for the Animal Rights Coalitionat my yoga studio. It was a potluck and class. Last winter, I did a music video release party for my song "Veal" which benefited the Animal Humane Society.
What do you do to stay physically active? I do a lot of yoga. I'm also a runner. I've run about 10 half marathons and one full marathon. I'm just getting back into it since I broke my shoulder snowboarding. I'll probably do a half marathon this fall.
Do you have a book or film that you'd encourage people to check out? Forks Over Knives and The Food Revolution are my go-to's. I'm also reading The Sexual Politics of Meat. It's about feminism and the meat industry, and it's profound.
Favorite local restaurant: I've loved Ecopolitan since college. It's so interesting; I'm not a raw vegan but I enjoy it.
Where do you buy groceries? I've been living in Duluth so I'm always at Whole Foods Co-op. In Minneapolis, I've gone to Eastside Co-op and Seward Co-op.
Favorite animal: I'm a cat person, all types of cats and especially big cats. And manatees!
What's one thing on your bucket list? I'd love to go to Bali and India to explore Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. My lineage is a style called Viniyoga and I'd love to study there. Bali has tons of yoga retreats, too.
What's one piece of advice that you would offer to someone interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet? Start incorporating more plants/produce into your diet. Make a checklist if it helps to make sure you add in beans and grains and vegetables. Check out cookbooks like The Kind Diet; start simple. Eat as fresh and close to the earth as you can.
What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet? There are many reasons why I switched. I was overweight my whole life (around 230 lbs.) until a few years ago. I remembered watching 'Fat, Sick And Nearly Dead' when it came out and thinking to myself that something needed to change. I was off and on with drinking, drugs, etc. and had finally had enough. Being in touring bands most of my life gave me free reign to just eat, drink, and do whatever I wanted. I never thought about the repercussions at that point of my life.
I started to make changes here and there. Less booze, no drugs of any kind, less meat and dairy, I quit smoking, etc. The transformation process was never overnight. I very gradually started making my way towards plant-based without even knowing it. I started juicing vegetables, which cleared my mind to such an amazing headspace, that a mile-long walk turned into a very light jog. A jog turned into a longer jog, followed by a 5K, followed by a 10K, which then turned into 15-20 mile runs a day.
My whole life changed. It wasn't instant but I will tell you that it was, hands-down, the most amazing experience that I've ever gone through. I barely ever drink anymore. It's just who I've become. All of the offs and ons and the difficulties of the journey put my life into such a different perspective. There's so much more detail to the story but that's basically inside the nutshell of it all.
Did you notice any changes after you switched to a plant-based diet? I definitely did and still do to this day. Again, I'm the singer for my band. Eating plant-based is a lifeline for a vocalist. Breathing is everything and without the cleanliness of a plant-based lifestyle. I would regress back into my past troubles as a singer. I was never able to take deep breaths. I was always clogged in body and mind. Now, the inside of my body is incredibly clean and the passageways that pump blood all throughout are open and flowing with life. I can feel it every morning.
I go on a run before every show we play and I'm never tired. I'm full of energy. I'm physically in the best shape I've ever been in. Even our "junk food" converts into amazing energy.... energy of the physical and of the spiritual.
What’s the best/weirdest/most entertaining reaction you’ve received when telling another person you’re vegan? Honestly, I think the fact that my friends now come to me for advice is absolutely insane to me. That's the one thing that fills all of this questions criteria. If you would have met me a few years back you would know exactly why that's such a crazy thing.
However, in the context you're referring to, I receive a lot of snacks on the road from the amazing people at "Go Raw." Thanks to them, I rarely ever have to be involved in a situation where I'm on tour in the middle of nowhere trying to find vegan food while people are looking at me like I'm some sort of freak. However, I'm never offended in those situations. There are still people uneducated as to what goes on in the meat and dairy industry, or any industry that participates in animal cruelty. People are often fed (literally and metaphorically) what is shoved in front of them their whole lives.
Side note: Here's a trick when you're in one of those situations trying to order food in the middle of nowhere: SAY YOU ARE ALLERGIC! You know you're a vegan. You can swallow the pride of shouting it from the rooftops for one meal in the middle of nowhere. People don't care for what they don't understand. Everybody understands being allergic to something. All you have to do is ask for things without meat and dairy because you're "terribly allergic". No one ever questions that.
Are you currently a member of any organizations? I just signed up to be a mentor for
Vegan Outreach's new Mentor Program. I also do my best to help promote this vegan place by my apartment. The place is called Subia's Organic Market. It's a small place in Jersey City that makes some of the best, if not THE BEST, food I've ever had as a vegan.
What do you do to stay physically active?
Aside from all of the running I previously mentioned, I also train in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when I'm home from tour. I train in Muay Thai with Paul Clark at Jersey City Kickboxing, and I train in BJJ with Joseph Chan at JC projects. Both incredible teachers and immensely skilled at what they do. I owe so much to both of them.
Singing a 30-45 minute set everyday on tour is incredible exercise. Breathing mixed with all of the movement and energy being poured out onto the stage keeps me very in-tune with my body.
Is there a book or movie you’d like to encourage people to check out regarding veganism?
I'm on my second read of The China Study and I still swear by Animal Liberation. I can talk for hours about both books. They've helped shape me in many ways. I use both books as major inspiration for optimal health and knowledge. Those are two books on the subject of veganism that will give you 100% truth and fact.
I'm not into people spewing their beliefs onto others. Change should only happen because you yourself want change. By choosing to read books like these, you will see that the authors aren't trying to shove their ideals down your throat. They're trying to show you truth in an industry of lies.
Favorite place to buy groceries: My wife (also vegan) gets most of our stuff from Whole Foods. We also try to be as locally supportive as possible. The Farmers Market by our apartment is always essential as well as Subia's. We're very lucky to have a couple of other spots in walking distance that cater to our needs.
Tell us one thing on your bucket list: I've been in a professional touring band for about half of my life. I can honestly say that I've accomplished many, many things I would have never gotten the chance to experience if it weren't for what I do.
I would have to say that the main item on my bucket list would be to travel all of the world with my wife. I've seen and done so many things through music. Last June, my wife and I went to Santorini, Greece on our honeymoon and it made me realize that I've never really seen the world without being on such a hectic schedule. I want to take her and revisit all of the places I've been to from my years of touring and I want her and I to explore new places together with no time restraints.
What’s some advice you would offer someone who is working on the transition to a plant-based diet? You are human. Don't expect to be flawless.... ever. You will mess up. You will eat something with an ingredient that you don't want in it. It happens.
You have to remember that you're not doing this just to label yourself a vegan. If something like that happens, make it a goal to learn how to avoid it for the next time you're in that exact same situation.
Be the best you that you can be and study on the subject as much as possible. Knowledge is power and believe me when I say that you need to be knowledgeable if you want to reach your ultimate. That goes for anything.
I'm not exaggerating when I tell you how clueless I first was with all of this. You will learn. Keep an open mind and treat everyone with respect. Carnivore or herbivore. The more you show the natural positivity of your lifestyle, the more others will want to gravitate towards it.