You've been a baker and chef for a while now. How long exactly and how did that start?
Holly: Well, I was literally in a baby seat in commercial kitchens with my Dad and Grandmother when they were working together when I was growing up. I started helping out when I was super young because I liked it and have been learning since. When I went vegan, people said it would limit me severely in my career as a chef but I would say it did the opposite. Baking came later, and at 22 I opened my first vegan business, a wholesale vegan bakery in Oakland, California. Though I decided that was not my path, baking has really taught me so much that I've been able to bring into other aspects of my life, like a love of pure physical chemistry, and about learning the foundation before breaking the rules. Once I learned all those foundations, I was able to start connecting between my love of fitness food, (i.e. macro friendly, high protein, cleaner ingredient foods) and delicious baked treats.
Were punk rock and hardcore a big part of your involvement with this lifestyle?
Holly: Huge. My Mom and Brother got me into punk rock when I was a little tiny kid. I was kicking it with my Brother at shows at local venues and skate parks way before graduating elementary school. Punk rock taught me that I didn't need to adhere to anything the world around me told me, that it was cool to be a tough, strong, girl, and that I could do whatever I wanted in the world as long as it meant I was fighting for what I knew to be right. It was also a huge part of my education about the world around me, from wars in far off countries, atrocities of history, or the corruption of capitalism, lyrics and record sleeves taught me so much.
Hardcore brought me into veganism and straight edge. They both gave me the mind, tools and strength to lift heavy and fight hard, especially when the world around me thinks what I'm doing is impossible or insane. The mentality of hardcore and punk rock really resonate into my more adult (read: less able to play in bands or make it to shows) life in different ways besides mentality. For instance, it connects you instantly to others who have had similar experiences and creates an environment of honesty and openness, especially among other older hardcore ladies. These both came together recently when another bad ass punk rock lady and I started Rise and Resist, a podcast that's opening up many topics within fitness and nutrition, breaking myths and taking on all aspects of what it means to live a vegan lifter lifestyle.
Describe yourself in a few sentences.
Ed: I am a long time ethical vegan, who has competed in BodyBuilding, Men's physique, and CrossFit competitions. I hold multiple certifications in Personal Training, Olympic Weightlifting, Mobility, Nutrition, and the CrossFit Level 1 Certificate. My goal in life is to show the world that a 100% plant-based diet has everything we need to be strong, fit, healthy, and damn good looking.
PlantFit is all the rave in the Bay Area vegan scene. What exactly is it?
Ed: PlantFit Strength & Conditioning is a fitness facility that I own with my partner that promotes a plant-based lifestyle. We use a mix of functional fitness, bodybuilding, powerlifting, and lots of mobility to ensure everyone is moving safely and efficiently.
Why did you decide to open this kind of facility?
Ed: I was a personal trainer for five years working for big box gyms, and the time finally came to open my own business. Also, while the fitness industry was so busy promoting whey protein and meat consumption, I was able to establish a vegan business in a niche market ahead of the trend curve.
BACK TO HOLLY
You are on Team PlantBuilt 2015, which takes a ton of dedication. Has lifting become more of a passion than your baking?
Holly: That's an amazing question, and not one that came up with an answer for quickly. I have been at all the PlantBuilt meet-ups 'til now, but it wasn't until this last year that I realized where I fit in the fitness industry. I love lifting heavy and breaking stereotypes, so when I began powerlifting, it really tugged at my heartstrings and I knew I wanted to be part of the team. It definitely takes a ton of dedication, but it really is just a love of the lifestyle. We live upstairs from PlantFit, so training now is quite an interesting phenomenon. I walk downstairs to the gym and get to train alone, listening to old xvx hardcore (vegan, straight edge bands) for inspiration, while the dogs lay in the sun and I do what I love. I guess I let it take over because the passion simply shifted. I still love baking, which is why I started FitQuick (to meld the two)!
Holly: FitQuick is a dry mix, meant to be mixed with non dairy milk, that becomes a super awesome protein waffle or pancake, free of sugar, dairy, soy or gluten. It has 22 grams of protein per serving, while being low fat and carbohydrate, and very high fiber. I like to think that it came out of my desire to answer "But where do you get your protein?!" with "from WAFFLES!". It currently comes in three sweet flavors: Original which is meant to be similar to buttermilk, Double Chocolate Brownie, Java Chip as well as the more savory Pizza Style. I mostly distribute through the incredible VeganProteins.com and will be expanding into more products and flavors in the future.
What are your future plans with FitQuick and PlantFit?
Holly: FitQuick grows itself. As people catch onto how great it is, they spread the word for me. It has been the most rewarding company I have ever started because it's been so driven by demand. Plans for FitQuick include new flavors such as Blueberry Lemon and Peanut Butter Swirl, new products such as Protein Peanut Butter and Mixed Berry BCAA's Omega 3 Jam, Protein Donut Mix and I just started allowing bulk orders for those who love it so much they just want tons. I recently began coaching at PlantFit and that has been moving me further from the food industry and more into teaching fitness and nutrition which has been amazing, so hopefully the future will hold more clients and more events. We are beginning to plan pop up dinners/brunches with many local chefs in the courtyard and in the space itself which will be super fun. Also, we are growing out the supplement shop and, as we get more and more people coming through, we will grow FitQuick Performance Cafe as well.
(For Remote or Local Fitness or Nutrition Coaching, or for more information on PlantFit or FitQuick, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @xvxh on Instagram)
You are known to make compelling arguments for following a plant-based diet and a sober lifestyle. What do you say to someone with no exposure to veganism or straight edge that asks you why you live the way you do?
Holly: Veganism is the back bone of my passion and motivation. Knowing that I'm proving what can be done without the oppression of the earth and animals gives me a reason bigger than myself to grow stronger. Straight Edge is the tool that keeps me focused on what matters. They both keep me healthy and happy.
BACK TO ED
Ed: I would tell them that both vegan and straight-edge are all about respect. I respect the rights and freedom of all living creatures. I think all animals should have the right to live free of pain and suffering. Living a 100% vegan lifestyle is the only way to grant them that respect. Also a straight-edge lifestyle is all about respect for myself. Staying away from all drugs and alcohol allows me better health, a clear mind, and more opportunity to make better decisions. It also keeps me out of dangerous situations such as drunk driving or substance abuse and addiction.
Has your business taken priority over your own training?
Ed: It had to at first to get it ready for its grand opening in January 2015. Since then, I have found a healthy balance of coaching others while establishing a strong improvement in my personal programming.
Tell us about your relationship with Beyond Meat.
Ed: I am a part of the Beyond Meat Pro Team, which means I get to promote a forward thinking company and eat delicious plant-based meats like Beyond Chicken and Beast Burgers! I share my experience with Beyond Meat on social media and they provide us with swag, coupons, ad marketing opportunities. They are truly a company that aligns with my values.
|The Beyond Beefy Ed Bauer and Billy Prusinowski|
My reason for wanting to do this interview:
The relationship I am grateful to have with Holly Noll and Ed Bauer has helped solidify my presence in the vegan health and fitness world. Both of them inspire me to stay ever-committed to this vegan, straight-edge, punk-loving, and fitness-focused lifestyle. When I was 15, I had a huge support network of dozens of straight edge kids at West Genesee High School (Syracuse, New York) and at least 10 of them were fellow vegans. Support is what you need when you make any kind of significant change in your life, and those who don't have it fight an uphill battle.
Unfortunately, over the years and after several relocations criss-crossing the country, my Syracuse Straight Edge scene has thinned out and the vegan movement has gone through a "changing of the guards" so to speak. Those vegans who inspired my decision in 2001 to evolve to a plant-based diet are not vegan anymore. Additionally, those who I inspired in the ultra-militant first 3 years of my vegan journey probably aren't vegan anymore either. (There are a few holdouts, and my respect for them is huge. I won't stay stuck in the past though, and instead choose to align myself with people who are new or newer vegans, because it's all the same to me.)
I do this interview because Holly and Ed are my new support network. They are not new vegans (30 years of veganism between the two of them!) but still rather fresh on my friend radar, and I hope they stay forever. This picture captures much of the spirit and attitude people like us share. Josh is a "new vegan" and already a seminal part of our movement. Allison is my partner, and nicely rounds out the EdHollyBillyAllison fearsome foursome. I call this picture "The Order of The Phoenix" because Harry Potter and his crew are almost as badass as us. Thanks for reading.