We thought our readers would like to know more about Brenda and Vegan Health & Fitness, so we conducted a mini interview.
What follows are the questions asked by Vegetarians in Paradise (VIP) and the answers by Brenda Carey (BC)
VIP: As a vegan athlete you had no place to share your interests and health tips on reaching and maintaining performance. What in your background prepared you for launching Vegan Health & Fitness?
BC: I have been athletic all of my life. As a child I especially took to swimming and bicycling and enjoyed both daily. As a 15 year old my first job was as a swimming instructor (teaching both kids and adults). My second job ever was a lifeguard at a water park, and my third job was as an aerobics instructor (in the 80s, and I wore all the crazy outfits--it was a lot of fun). I ran in a 5k with my dad and brother as a teenager and continued to run and swim for exercise once I went out into the world on my own as a model.
I began to lift weights at the gym in a rather non-serious manner about 10 years ago, but got serious about it right before my 40th birthday (2 years ago). I started a blog called Female Vegan Body Builder in order to record my daily workouts and diet and keep myself motivated and accountable.
I developed a following of a few hundred folks and realized that there was a need for more information on vegan diets for athletes in a mainstream source (I tend to get my information from hard core research in scientific journals, which is something that most people would not find enjoyable).
I also read Robert Cheeke's book Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness and was fortunate enough to get to meet him shortly thereafter. We became fast friends and often discussed the shocking misinformation that is put out in most magazines regarding the vegan diet and athletics. That got me thinking that I should do something about that.
I have a strong background in research (as a lawyer, former professor and Communications Studies scholar). I took up photography as a hobby shortly after quitting modeling and by this time I'd amassed about 20 years of experience with that. I also was a writer and copy editor for many academic sources at universities that I attended and law school. So, I realized that I have a unique skill set for being a magazine editor. I did some research on what was required to get a magazine started and the nuts and bolts of how to do it and decided to give it a try.
I thought I would make 1,000 copies and give them away at Veg Fairs and see if anyone was interested in subscribing. But before I made the first one, I contacted the folks who distribute magazines to the Whole Foods Markets and other health food stores and asked if they would be interested. They immediately wanted to order several thousand copies because there's nothing out there like Vegan Health & Fitness and they knew that there is a market for it. And the rest, as they say, is history. It sold out within a few hours at several locations, and for the first few issues they couldn't seem to order enough to fill the demand and we were always selling out. This still happens. So, the distribution has continued to rise exponentially with each issue.
With our next issue we will be in thousands of stores all over the world because we have realized from our many international subscribers) that there is nothing like Vegan Health & Fitness anywhere in the world--and there is a huge demand all over the place. The number of vegans worldwide is really growing at a fast pace, and people are also getting tired of all the junk food being peddled to vegans and want to know how to be healthy and fit on the vegan diet. We supply information to our readers on how to do this.
VIP: What makes this magazine different from other vegan magazines?
BC: We are the first, and still the only, magazine in the world that is distributed widely, with the word "vegan" in the title. We are also the first and only magazine in the world to combine anything veg with fitness. We provide high-quality super-healthy vegan recipes that you won't find anywhere else. We provide insight and scientific information on how to achieve your health and fitness goals-- whether that be preventing disease, getting toned up, losing weight, building muscle, creating greater endurance--on the vegan diet. You won't find that anywhere else.
VIP: What aspects were important to include or feature in the magazine?
BC: It is very important to me that every scientific claim made in the magazine is backed up with a peer-reviewed reputable source such as an academic journal. Vegans are often criticized for saying anything to get people to go vegan. While I can certainly relate to the desire to do that, as someone who has studied nutrition for over 20 years, I know that it is not necessary for us to make things up. The science is very strong on our side. It is just a matter of sharing that science with the rest of the world so that there can be no doubt that the vegan diet is truly the best diet in the world for the most optimal health.
It is also very important to me that we provide a little something for everyone in each issue. We try to feature people of all ages, races, and levels of fitness--because it is true that the vegan community consists of a very diverse bunch of folks. So, the inspirational stories and people featured are from all walks of life. We also try to include a variety of different types of exercise programs in each issue, from yoga to bodybuilding to endurance sports.
We also try to give our readers the latest and greatest information on vegan books, gear, trainers and other resources to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. Again, this is information you won't get anywhere else.
VIP: What does being vegan do for athletes and people who just want to be fit?
BC: It is absolutely true that being vegan is a huge advantage, no matter what you do in life. This applies to folks trying to avoid disease as well as athletes trying to break records in strength, speed, and endurance. It is proven in the scientific articles and it is shown again and again when athletes give it a try. Every issue is chock full of examples of athletes who achieved a higher level of performance after going vegan than was ever possible before making this switch. The easy answer as to why has to do with the massive amounts of antioxidants consumed and the absence of toxic foods that contain massive amounts of free radicals (animal products). Once athletes try the vegan diet they report faster recovery times, less inflammation, and the ability to go further in their training than ever before.
For our readers, like me, who are not competitive athletes, it is still nice to learn how to work out on a regular basis in an enjoyable fashion and not feel wiped out the next day. It is easier to stay in shape and healthy when you know how to do it right. I am constantly inspired by the top-performing athletes that are featured in Vegan Health & Fitness. And, even if I never become an ultra-marathoner like Fiona Oakes or Scott Jurik, or a bodybuilder like Yolanda Presswood or Torre Washington or a tennis star like Serena Williams, but when I read about them and see their images, I am inspired by them to do my own daily workout in a better way.
Our ultimate gift to the cause is to inspire vegans to be the healthiest and fittest people on the planet, so we will draw others to want to go vegan too!
VIP: What are the future goals for the magazine?
BC: As we are now bi-monthly and distributed all over the world, we intend to step up our game in bringing more stories of global interest. As the world becomes a more global place, people want to know what is going on in other countries, especially among people with whom they share common interests such as veganism. Vegan Health & Fitness is doing a lot of traveling and making new friends. We are discovering stories on vegan athletes from all over. We are also providing information for our fellow vegan travelers, wanting to see the world and sample its best healthy vegan fare and keep fit while traveling.
Basically, we will simply continue to improve in every area of bringing something for everyone to help vegans be the healthiest, happiest, fittest people on Earth!
VIP: How can people learn more about Vegan Health & Fitness and subscribe to the magazine?