Monday, June 22, 2015

Forever True

        I am against guns. All guns. Unpopular sentiment with a lot of people I consider myself friends with? Yes. But that doesn’t determine my friendships with them. Do I like it when friends agree with my ethical views? Sure. And that’s what I was reminded about as I listened to A Global Threat tonight.

A Global Threat, Boston Punk

        Maybe you know me as a West Genesee graduate, or SU graduate or UCSC graduate. Maybe as a vegan, maybe as a teacher, maybe through fitness competitions and classes. Could also be because we’re both Ukrainian or have done karate together.

        You likely know my politics. Pro-peace, anti-drugs, pro-union, animal-friendly, Green Party (the political party of sustainability), etc etc. Those politics were formed because of the punk rock I was exposed to in high school, went on to really “live the scene” during my college years, and continued to enjoy in while in Portland and working for PETA.

Me, Helen Boylan, Dave Carlson

Me, Tom Liggett, Warped Tour 2001
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The friends I had in high school will never be forgotten. I remember each one of them fondly tonight, because I listened to my favorite A Global Threat album and read their liner notes and lyrics like I was 16 again.

        This scene that meant so much is very similar to my PlantBuilt Family that has been growing since 2013. Here is why: Vegans aren’t all the same. Some suck. Most are rad, but we don’t agree on everything. The fact of the matter is that PlantBuilt is a community of people who DO feel the same way about a lot of things. Everything? Of course not. But we’re staunchly against racism. We support our trans-brothers and sisters. We believe in food reform, plant-based diets, environmental protection, and a whole slew of other things that some might not realize are directly correlated to the vegan lifestyle. 

        I had conversations about religion, police shootings, Caitlyn Jenner…I felt very “at home” with a crew that was intelligent, sympathetic, and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. This is my community in 2015. It took this street punk record tonight to help me rewind back to 1999 when I participated in another community like this. 
Syracuse Hardcore Scene, Westcott Community Center
Seattle Hardcore Scene, Camp Nowhere
Tim, Chris, Allan, John - Seven Generations
        For a good 7 years, I went to punk shows every weekend. Eventually I got pickier and chose the more political bands over others, and would travel for their shows. Some of my favorite groups promoted books called “Crimethinc,” which I was influenced heavily by and ended up on entire tours with Crimethinc-affiliated artists. The thing with those shows was that THOSE were my people. 

Me, Lauren Winship, Chicago, IL
Me, Pat Roberts, Reno, NV
Me, Chris Rouse, Tim Rusmisel - Seven Generations
        They weren’t just kids watching bands. Lyrics influenced lifestyles, and outside these shows you would talk with any one of these kids and be down to go hitchhike the country with them, or figure out a way get free food, or scam a mega-corporation, or protest a Ringling Brothers circus coming to town. 
Me, Chriztophe Shingleton, Petland Austin, TX

        They are the reason I moved to Portland. I was told about this wonderland of punks and train hopping and Food Not Bombs and bike culture and direct action that I 100% lived while I was there. 

        The rapidly-growing community of “my people” was thrilling, and made it really easy to become so confident in my far left views of the world. I wouldn’t read Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Derrick Jensen in vain. My friends could discuss these authors in-depth, and so we did. 

        I love being a part of this kind of community. I haven’t listened to punk music regularly since college. But baby I was SO into it. Who remembers the mohawks I’ve had? Insane? I sure hope you thought so. That was my goal in life! 

        I would say my politics are at least equally as radical as they were then. And this was when I was going to activist group meetings several nights a week and skipping entire weeks of school to sit-in or march or disrupt things we were campaigning against. 
Syracuse Animal Rights Organization
Me, Zac Wolfheart, Marissa Wolfheart, Portland, OR

        I don’t have a mohawk anymore. I look so mainstream it hurts sometimes. But with that being said, I wouldn’t be able to do crossfit with an 8 inch mohawk or my studded pleather jacket. I wouldn’t have gotten hired teaching in a public school, where I can reach a population of impressionable youth and steer them toward future peace and justice. I wouldn’t be able to do Vega demos. I wouldn’t be able to get “in” to all of the circles I am in, where people trust me, they believe me, and then when I share my opinions with them, I have much more of a chance getting across to them. 

PETA works to reach the mainstream and get across to
populations who would otherwise not hear our message
through the punk rock and hardcore scenes

        Has anyone seen the meme that was a dude asking a little kid “are you the only vegan in your family?” and the kid replying with “yes” and the last part of it was them hugging and crying together? That pretty much sums up how it feels to be in a place with your people- especially ethical vegans. Instead of the local punk/hardcore show being the place where we are unite, it's in the gym. I'm certainly not the only one who has evolved in such a way. 

Carolyn Napier, Holly Noll, Ed Bauer, Me, Kelly Green,
Allison Dunham, Sara Russert, Flexvx Crew 2014
(have way more in common than just our muscles)
        Team PlantBuilt members are very much into their physiques. That is the reason that this group of vegans came together as a team. Though after meeting up with them the past two years, I realize how consistent each of our compassionate lifestyles are when addressing other worldly issues (racism, police brutality, xenophobia, homophobia, drugs, oppressive religious views, etc).
        When we speak, we are at ease. When we eat, we share our meals. When we work, we work hard. When we hear about another war starting, we protest. We know who to trust, and for each other, remain forever true. After PlantBuilt 2014, a lot of us who still hold strong ended up at the all vegan Sweet Ritual. We took this picture to break the record of most years XVX combined to ever be in one place. These are the faces of the people I truly feel at home/at ease with nowadays. Much love. 

Allison Dunham, Holly Noll, Kelly Green, Sasha Perry, Carolyn Napier, Billy Pruz
Joey Marsh, Ed Bauer, Matt Ruscigno, Sara Russert
        The only picture that can follow this one up is from exactly 10 years previous. The most "at home" I had ever felt with other vegan straight edge kids up until PlantBuilt began. Total Liberation Tour was monumental in bringing together XVX bands from all over the globe to play a tour in the U.S., and I got to meet some tremendously inspirational people that year. Karl from Earth Crisis is there. Andy Stephanian from the SHAC 7 is there. I'm there. Yeah buddy. Syracuse, NY, June 2004.

Couldn't name every person, couldn't name every country, couldn't believe when
I heard that a whole bunch of them sold out...but this was fucking amazing.
Total Liberation 2004 - Vegan Straight Edge

       When I made a Facebook post with only the text from this blog, I tagged a lot of the people because tagging is so easy on social media! I wish you all had Blogger so we could just do it that way here! Oh well, here we go with trying to find pictures with a lot of you, which I will only be able to successfully do for a fraction. Maybe you'll see yourself, maybe not. I still hope you smile :)

Ed, Holly, Allison, and me trying to look like A Global Threat

Chris Merrow, Alicia Arredondo, Tyler Lang

Ranger, Maria Borrell, Hex, Stoops, Brian Kraus

Ryan Kutil, Jon AB, Allison Dunham

Crazy Shawn, Amber, Vegan Tim, Jay Carney, Lauren Ligocki

That beer is NOT ours

Crazy Shawn, Amber, Muslim Matt

Andrew Truss XVX

Mike The Spike Zell

Daniel Austin

Chriztophe Shingleton

Stic Man Dead Prez

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Vegan Couple: CrossFit/Powerlifting/Bodybuilding


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.


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)!

What is FitQuick? 

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 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 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.


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.