Healthy Hero: Dominick Thompson

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photos by JP Bevins

Dominick Thompson is a real New Yorker. He works a demanding day job, started his own business on the side, and still finds the time to stay healthy and vegan while training hard for triathlons. LÄRABAR, famous for their simple, real ingredients that you can actually recognize, asked The Discerning Brute to spend a day with Dominick and get to know the insights, secrets and strengths of this healthy hero. We chased him around on foot, on wheels, under weights and in the kitchen and even caught him sharing his favorite Cashew Cookie bar with a squirrel friend.

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Joshua Katcher: People who live in NYC are notorious for having the busiest schedules. What does your typical day look like and how do you make time to work out and eat well?
Dominick Thompson: I work 10-12 hours a day Monday-Friday. That doesn’t include any special projects I’m managing that may involve late night hours or weekends as well. However, I do create time for training and even competing in races as they are important to me and my health. There is simply no excuses to not be healthy and train efficiently in this day and age. My typical work day includes me rolling out of bed to train from 5am to 7am. That gives me plenty time to shower and head into the office. I spend my lunch hours training as well whether its at the gym or going outside for a run through the busy streets of Manhattan. By the time I leave my office in the evenings, I have one thing on my mind, and that is to go hard in my third training session for the day which usually lasts 2 hours after work.

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JK: You’re in amazing shape. What’s your motivation for staying fit?
DT: The physical and mental feeling one experiences when they are at their peak level of fitness is something that is just as addicting as life itself, and life itself is truly my motivation.

JK: What’s your workout regimen like, and are you currently training for any competitions?
DT: I’m currently training to compete in my next Ironman, with hopes of qualifying for the Ironman Championship held in Hawaii. I currently log over 120 hours of training per month.

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JK: Who are some of your heroes? How have you inspired others to get healthy?
DT: With respect to physical health and athletic achievements, I didn’t have any real life heroes growing up. The only hero in my life in terms of athletic achievements was the person I used to stare at in the mirror everyday before and after football practice. To understand this, you would have to understand my past. To be brief, all I saw growing up were individuals just trying to survive the day to day struggles of life and poverty. The last thing on their minds was being healthy. Not having any male role models drove me to teach myself how to play football and to get involved in other team sports on my own. It also taught me how to think very critically and grow up fast. Without going too deep, let’s just say that I used the negative things and experiences I saw growing up as inspiration to do my best and to be the opposite of what I was used to, both on and off the field. Now in my adult life, I have inspired others by showing them they can thrive and still perform in athletics at a high level all on a vegan diet.

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Cashew Cookie

JK: Do you make time for fun?
DT: I do make time for fun, but I also consider competing in endurance sports such as triathlons and marathons as fun. I love them!

JK: Let’s talk food. What’s a great pre-workout meal, post workout meal, and snacks for in-between?
DT: I like things simple and healthy. I juice and consume a variety of berries for pre-workout fuel. If I’m out on a long bike ride, I re-hydrate with juiced watermelon and eat bars like LÄRABAR throughout my ride. The Cashew Cookie bar is one of my favorites. The best thing about LÄRABAR is that it’s only a few, simple ingredients like cashews and dates. Post meal is always bananas and juiced fruits.

JK: What are some common myths you dispel simply by being you?
DT: That you can’t be strong on a vegan diet. I’m actually stronger now that I am on a vegan diet than I was when I consumed animal products. In fact, my strength training has only improved.

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JK: What music gets you pumped? What ideas inspire you?
DT: It varies. Depending on the day or the mood. Sometimes I rock out to Tiesto and other times I crank up some Young Jeezy. I love all types of music. Kings of Leon is one of my favorite bands. As for what inspires me, people that work 9-5 jobs while competing as weekend warriors in marathons and other athletics inspire me! It is the very reason I formed IRON BRUKAL, which represents The Working Athlete.

JK: What’s something every guy should know?
DT: That compassion defines one’s intelligence with respect to all life itself.

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JK: What is something every guy can do right now to start getting healthier?
DT: Honestly, cutting out all meat from your diet is the first step in my opinion. Your children and grandchildren will thank you in the future when you are still living and able to play catch with them.

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Brave GentleMan Capsule Collection

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After a successful event at the Alexander Gray Associates Gallery for New York Fashion Week, Brave GentleMan is releasing the items available at the event for online sales in very limited numbers. Made in New York City’s historic garment district, this capsule collection features luxurious, tweedy, Italian organic cotton naturally dyed in black, slate blue, French-milled herringbone with a subtle sharkskin shine made from a blend of organic cotton and recycled PET, a classic black twill made from organic cotton and recycled PET milled in India, and a supple, sequoia red-brown, Japanese future-suede born of post-industrial recycled PET. Also available are future-wool felt hats made from recycled soda bottles, and classic shirts in white and gray. $190 – $870 at BraveGentleMan.com

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Major Fashion Brands Must Respond to Cruelty on Rabbit Farms

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photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, WeAnimals.org

When a story broke last week via Sparrow Media showing disturbing images of rabbits on fur farms in Spain, it quickly began to gain mainstream media attention. Seventy farms and two slaughterhouses were investigated by Last Chance for Animals, and management of the operations at Curticub and Galaico Catalana explicitly claimed they supplied U.S. designers Marc Jacobs and Diane Von Furstenberg, as well as international designers Burberry, Dior, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton with rabbit pelts.

The investigation video is below:

When it came time for the industry to respond after WWD ran the story, setting off a chain reaction in the fashion media, deny deny deny was the PR mantra. In the WWD article, Dior claimed that “The House of Dior is deeply shocked by the documented images, which are against our values and practices.”

Burberry followed suit saying they have “no relationship with the farms featured and we are sure that Curticub is not part of our supply chain… Burberry will not use fur if there is concern that its production has involved the unacceptable treatment of animals.”

In an article for Vogue on Sept 16th, the label Saint Laurent, which lists Spain as a source of rabbit fur on their website, said, ” Saint Laurent teams are continuously working to find ways to ensure high standards of animal welfare.”

It’s not surprising that these designers are denying and distancing themselves from the activities caught on camera of farm workers bashing sick rabbits to death, crippled, diseased and severely wounded rabbits left to suffer in small, crowded cages with hard metal bars for floors with no medical treatment, or rabbits being bludgeoned to death or slammed to the floor before being skinned. Who would dare claim financial support of such callousness? But denial only goes so far. Surely these large suppliers are selling to someone. And where there is big business, there is a paper-trail. It’s only a matter of time before those doing (or having done) business with them are confirmed.

The most frightening thing about these images beyond the abhorrent cruelty is the fact that this is business-as-usual.

The most frightening thing about these images beyond the abhorrent cruelty is the fact that this is business-as-usual. All seventy farms and two slaughterhouses investigated are currently having animal cruelty charges brought against them. Every single one. Therefore, the cruelty is indicative of industry-wide practices, not rare exceptions that can be avoided. In other words, fur farming is inherently cruel. The following is a list of acts and situations included in the list of the complaints:

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photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, WeAnimals.org
  • ·throwing live rabbits into trash containers to die with rabbit corpses
    ·killing by blunt force trauma with repeated strikes against the cages or the floor
    ·killing by crushing their esophagus and abandoning them to die by suffocation
    ·ill and injured rabbits, some with open, infected wounds, who never receive veterinary treatment
    ·violation of hygienic-sanitary conditions, where feces is left to accumulate, lack of mandatory bio-security suits
    ·abandonment of live animals in piles of feces who later die of starvation or dehydration

There is a myth that humane fur farms exist. That regulations protect animals on fur farms. But let me be clear: if you design with or wear fur, it is delusional to think that there is a kind way to confine, gas, anally electrocute, bludgeon, poison, suffocate, slit throats or snap necks. The laws and regulations established by the European Union are merely guidelines that are not enforceable. The guidelines are vague and often left open to interpretation. 1) Council Directive 93/119/EC 2) Council Directive 98/58/EC  3) Ley 32/2007, de 7 de noviembre 4) Real Decreto 348/2000 de 10 de marzo 5) RD 441/01 del Consejo de 27 de abril)(general animal welfare law) 6) Reglamento (CE) Nº 1/2005, del Consejo de 22 de diciembre de 2004, (general transport of farmed animals) 7) Reglamento (CE) nº 1099/2009 (Regulation on how farmed animals should be killed) They suggest taking “reasonable steps” to prevent “unnecessary pain, suffering or injury”, but who determines what steps are reasonable and what injuries or sufferings are necessary? Even the industry’s most stringent and much-touted Origin Assured certification has fallen short of even the most basic ethical standards when investigations surfaced in recent years of farms in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, as well as trapping the USA.


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photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, WeAnimals.org

…the mortality rate for rabbits on farms in Spain is a whopping 22%.

Spain’s Agricultural Ministry is supposed to monitor these farms, yet some farms were documented claiming that they’ve not had a vet visit in over five years. Not surprisingly, the mortality rate for rabbits on farms in Spain is a whopping 22%. There are no regulations for raising and killing rabbits, no regulated cage sizes or considerations for biological differences in rabbits to specifically address their physiological needs. In Spain, like in most countries (with Germany being the exception) there are no laws that specifically protect rabbits being raised for meat and fur. This is shocking considering that almost 70 million rabbits are killed annually in Spain’s 3,369 rabbit farms. Globally, over one billion rabbit pelts are produced each year, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. It goes against common sense to believe that a rabbit’s complex social and veterinary needs could ever be met at this scale while still making a profit. Rabbits are social creatures that live in large groups, dig and build warrens, and play. Companion rabbits enjoy the same privileges and kinship as dogs and cats. Caged on a farm, every instinct and desire is stifled.

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photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, WeAnimals.org

Cruelty, neglect and suffering are unavoidable aspects of large-scale animal industries, and it disingenuous for the brands who have released statements to feign concern for the barbaric treatment of rabbits documented in this investigation when these cruelties are widespread and disturbingly ordinary. If Burberry deems that this is “unacceptable”, if Dior claims this treatment of animals goes “against [their] values, if Saint Laurent wants to “ensure high standards of animal welfare” certainly they all must simply stop using animal skins. The cognitive dissonance here is disgraceful.

…it disingenuous for the brands who have released statements to feign concern for the barbaric treatment of rabbits documented in this investigation when these cruelties are widespread and disturbingly ordinary.

Investigators reached out to these brands weeks before releasing the investigation. Marc Jacobs, who also openly lists Spain as a source of rabbit fur, has still not commented on the subject. Therefore it is necessary that Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenburg, Armani and Louis Vuitton respond. Fur is more than a naughty, indulgent, luxury status symbol. The raising and killing of animals for their skins is an ugly, painfully mainstream and archaic business.

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photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, WeAnimals.org

The future of fashion, however, is bright and rebellious. The most exciting innovations in textiles are happening in the realms of bio-based organics and hi-tech and recycled synthetics. We can grow leather in a lab. We can make hi-tech, low-impact future-fur that is far more customizable than, yet indistinguishable from animal hair. Technology is always evolving and getting more efficient, more refined, more green and more visionary. In this sense, fur is simply bad design. It decomposes, it smells, it needs to be preserved in chemicals and refrigerated in the summer and checked for infestations. It requires the inefficient raising of animals and the messiness of having to actually kill them and rip their skin off. It will never evolve or change. There is no good reason that we need to keep caging animals for their entire lives in order to make luxury products. We are better designers than that.

References

UMASAN Spring Summer 2015

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UMASAN‘s presented their SS15 Collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin, offering up an “Urban Homage To The Freedom of The Nomadic, Bohemian Spirit”.

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An abandoned ice-rink with a live performance of Dante Alighieri’s work was the dramatic setting for the 4th successive season of the Award Winning high fashion, vegan brand UMASAN for their SS15 show, where the blending of genders was not so much a political statement as an embracing of a unisex future.
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The collection is an ode to the wandering traveller, a nomadic bohemian spirit intrinsic to the UMASAN DNA. However this journey was a spiritual one, a journey of self, almost dream like rather than a physical experience. Possibly a reference to Henry Miller, “one’s destination is never a place, but a way of seeing things.”
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The menswear collection is heavily influenced by luxe urban sportswear, with soft tailoring in the label’s staple fabrics of Tencel, SeaCell and cotton which offer free-flowing silhouettes that were styled with removable hood accessories and practical carryalls. A momentary slip, saw UMASAN’s strict palette of black and white confronted with a well-traveled, asymmetrical cut anorak in a rusted brown. The classic white shirt was injected with the quirky UMASAN touch, with off-centered buttons, while hooded sweat-shirts revealed edgy zip detailing at the back and t-shirts had lived-in slashed pockets.
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UMASAN, is the conceptual, vegan fashion brainchild of twin sisters, Anja and Sandra Umann, that has been on a roller coater of recognition since it’s launch in 2010. Widely known for their muted and austere, yet versatile and highly sophisticated ready-to-wear pieces they draw inspiration from the self and health style generation, yoga, art and literature. Sandra, a photographer, and Anja, ex designer for Yohji Yamamoto, combine their creative interests for a line that specialises in innovative materials, such as SeaCell and Tencel, together with interesting shapes to offer a fashion forward monochromatic aesthetic. There’s always something admirable when a label takes a forthright defiance and indifference to current fashion trends and this attitude and agenda is embodied in each of the predominantly masculine silhouettes boasting pristine German tailoring. It’s fun, unique and “the best black gear out there.”

 

 

Vivienne Westwood “Moral Outrage” SS15

Vivienne Westwood’s SS15 show in Milan was all about being bold. Bold patterns and colors inspired by the pixelated graphics of 1970s arcade games – and a bold message: moral outrage at factory farming of animals. Partner Andreas Kronthaler says on their website, “Vivienne & I are both vegetarians but we are urging people who do eat meat to always find out where it is coming from and to avoid meat from animal factories.”

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And backstage in an interview with Dazed, he also stated “It’s not just about pig farming but any animal farming. What’s going on out there is a disgrace. I’m a vegetarian and I don’t tell people not to eat meat but cutting down is not bad. One day a week makes a big difference, environmentally and even health-wise. The way we keep animals is awful,” Andreas Kronthaler said backstage. “For me as an activist, this is what an activist should look like – someone who cares about what’s going on out there.”

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