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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Run & Fell A/W 13

by Patrick LaDuke

Run & Fell, an ethical fashion brand based in England, just released their Autumn/Winter 2013 collection. Everything is produced locally, and they use sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo, and hemp. Everything is hand made in limited batches in Manchester and they use more traditional, primitive printing methods such as lino and potato printing. The collection features mostly minimalistic prints and trees in somber colors with the occasional juxtaposed metallic.



Online Stockists:
http://www.thenandnowshop.com
http://blue-spoon.co.uk
http://www.youngrepublic.com
http://www.runandfell.com

Fur, Get It?

On GQ.com’s “The Trends That Matter” Fall 2012 trend report, author Jim Moore lists fur as one of this season’s major must-haves. But is there more to this trend than meets the guy? Let’s take a closer look.

It’s practically shoved down our throats that fur equals luxury, and not simply because it’s warm and soft. As the report admits, “with so many technical materials used in the body, it’s nice to have a luxury touch”. Like what most arctic explorers and astronauts choose who brave temperatures beyond anything New York or Chicago could muster, hi-tech synthetics are the way to go if staying warm is the true ambition in wearing fur. Fur, however, far removed from functionality is one of the most sought-after symbols of power – financial, sexual, and direct power over nature. But has this symbol truly lasted the test of time since GQ itself asked the question “Should animals become coats?” on the cover of their November 1970 magazine? We’re skeptical.

Only last year, Olivier Lalanne,  editor-in-chief at Vogue Hommes International and deputy editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris did not mince words about the tactile (and olfactory) lack of luxury associated with fur when, in his own words, he published:

“Fur is as much a no-no as ever. It’s sexually dodgy, feels funny, and reeks when it’s rained on.”

And why the need for a fur trimmed hood to define luxury? Isn’t that a bit démodé? Isn’t the limited definition of luxury in itself against the forward momentum of fashion – or is this feeling of fashion evolution, season after season only an increasingly accelerating and regurgitating optical illusion of progress toward something better? So what’s our beef with fur? Read on.

J.Crew uses hi-tech textiles

FUR IS BAD DESIGN

While the definition of good design continues to be contentiously debated, we can be confident in saying that good design exists somewhere in a balance between expertly executed aesthetics, ease of functionality, and efficient use of resources. The trend of fur, however, is almost entirely based in pure frivolity. For the average consumer, it’s a decoration that is barely functional outside of semiotics, and easily replaceable by cutting-edge, future textiles. The singular future-fur featured in the GQ report was from J.Crew (right) but the rest of the garments in the report showcased the old-fashioned stuff. As for aesthetics, there is very little control over fur short of selective breeding and dyeing. It’s stiff, bulky, and designed by nature to decompose. The amount of nasty substances required to keep a pelt from festering off of one of those hoods is disturbing enough for Fur Famrers in Nova Scotia to violate the provincial Environmental Act, enough to have ads banned claiming that fur is “eco-friendly”, and enough for the fur industry to launch a “Fur Is Green” campaign that has seriously backfired after scientific research proving otherwise was published, putting a major damper on the efficiency claims. It’s an industry that the World Bank once ranked as the world’s fifth biggest toxic metal polluter, an industry responsible for killing threatened and endangered species despite claims otherwise, and an industry being banned or limited in more countries every year. What good design that is not edible needs to be refrigerated at forty-five degrees so it doesn’t rot or get attacked by insects during the spring and summer? What good design is so inefficient that it requires the raising, feeding, watering and housing of 11 animals for about every 2 pounds of product? What industry with the premiere claim to luxury is capitalizing in countries like China with little to no environmental or animal welfare regulations, yet produces and consumes more fur, including domestic cat and dog, than anywhere else in the world?

FUR IS A SYMBOL, BUT NOT A GOOD ONE

Fur is a visual symbol invoked to represent wealth, sex, power, class and even a connection to nature and animals, the latter being a good desire in and of itself, albeit perversely executed via fur. The marketing and PR forces behind the fur industry, as the New York Times shed light upon recently, rely on these definitions to make money and must keep the production process concealed. Instead we are shown a procession of famous, powerful people, and those “rebelling” against wholesome do-goodery flaunting their furs. But as production transparency transforms the semiotics of fashion, it is no longer possible for a fur coat to be symbolic of power, for it is only a performance of power against the already powerless. It can not be symbolic of anything but “I deny animals can suffer, and therefore deny modern science”, “I hate animals”, “I can afford this” or “I have no idea how this was made”. As fashion philosopher Lars Svendsen says,”In order for violence to be pleasurable, it must appear to be justified (or fictional).” And both justifications and fictionalizations of the fur production process have many millions of dollars behind them.


The “Pioneer” fur farm, Russia. Photo by Sergey Maximishin

The lure of easy power over the defenseles­s, and a masculine fantasy of themselves as rugged frontiersm­an is what many men who wear fur or who are trappers are after, though few realize or admit it.

FUR IS GROSS

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photo by Tim Woody, editor, Alaska Magazine

The ethical implications of animals bred, trapped or hunted, siphoned into fashion objects, obscured and silenced in the fashion industrial complex, is a shameful evasion of our fatal attraction to animals. But the real gross stuff, the nastiness of which you’d never see, smell, feel or hear an honest depiction in the “journalism” of fashion is the actual raising or tapping and killing of the animals for their pelts. As investigation after investigation after investigation has revealed, it is not a gentle process. Companies famous for their fur-trimmed hoods like Canada Goose like to make claims about ethical sourcing of fur, but organizations like Fur Bearer Defenders have had to do the work of deconstructing and rebutting their many claims. It is a process involving a violent struggle to live against the inevitable fate of death by anal or genital electrocution, gassing, neck-snapping, bludgeoning, starving, bleeding, dehydrating or any number of other methods. But the death is not necessarily the worst part, it is the languishing prior to death that bothers me the most. On farms, the deprivation of any natural physical or social behavior like digging in dirt or swimming (mink are semi-aquatic) these wild animals evolved to fulfill is evident in their neuroses. Have you seen an animal struggle in a trap?  Editor Tim Woody of Alaska Magazine recently published an article about a trapped wolf he stumbled across, “This is no way to see a beautiful animal.” Feeling “pity, and anger” he documented the inglorious demise of one of the planet’s most maligned animals. Look closely at the image (right) and you can see the wolf’s eye, acknowledging Tim. Look deeper into that eye and you might find it difficult to deny that the wolf has his own perspective, outside of what any trapper would like to believe for convenience sake.

“The wolf’s struggle was evident for yards around the wooden post to which the trap was anchored. Trampled snow was covered with splintered wood, chunks of ice, and blood spatters. But this once-powerful animal was done fighting. Its eyes watched us, but it was too tired to hold its head up and track our movements. Its breathing was shallow. We wondered how long it had been there facing its slow, painful death. There is no state law mandating how frequently trappers must check their traplines. We wished we had a pistol, because the scene in front of us was one of dreadful suffering. A merciful bullet would have made everyone feel better.”

 

The Ohio Bloody Mary

Kyle Bullen of Eco Bartneder joins The Discerning Brute’s growing coterie of expert contributors with this take on the classic Bloody Mary – just in time for the weekend. Kyle’s expertise in the realm of cocktails, infusions, wines and spirits is unparalleled, having been sought by renowned restaurants from San Francisco’ Millennium to New York’s Candle 79.

  – Editor, Joshua Katcher


photo by Spencer Kohn

There is nothing quite like enjoying a Sunday Brunch with people you love in an outdoor garden or restaurant patio. That is until you’ve enjoyed a Sunday Brunch with a Bloody Mary made from freshly picked peppers and tomatoes blended in your kitchen and garnished with homemade pickled cherry tomatoes. Now marry that with organic vodka doing more for our environment than our current government and you’ve really created a masterpiece of a brunch!

Where ever I have lived, be it Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New York, or good ol’ Ohio, having a weekend brunch will always remain one of my favorite things to do. It is nearly impossible to have a poor time, well until your Bloody Mary comes and it taste like preservatives or there is so much horseradish it taste like biting into the entire root. And have you ever seen one of those in person? Trust me; you don’t want to bite into that for more reasons than one. They don’t call it HORSEradish for nothing!

While in Ohio over the weekend, my parents, my friend Paul, and I created a Sunday Brunch before I headed back to the airport. I know living in Metro New York doesn’t afford the possibility of walking down the hill to a lush garden bursting with so much fruit you can’t possibly consume all of it in a season. Earlier that Thursday we pickled cherry tomatoes and canned hot peppers for this reason. And what a delightful treat on a Bloody Mary we all thought!

After heading down to the garden, we picked fresh tomatoes and peppers for our mix. In New York or other cities we are graced with bountiful farmer’s markets, so for your mix head on down to Union Square for some locally grown and organic produce; both the Earth and your taste buds will thank you.

The great thing about fresh Bloody Mary mix is the creativity it affords the maker. As long as you stick to fresh ingredients and flavors you love, you can’t go wrong. So play around with prep like roasting the tomatoes first or using fresh heirloom varieties. Throw in your favorite herbs like basil—fresh heirloom blended with Thai Basil is a real treat. I suggest experimenting with different varieties of fresh peppers. You can always stay traditional with Tabasco after the pepper season passes.

THE OHIO BLOODY MARY

  • • 3 cup Roasted cherry tomatoes
  • • ¾ cup filtered water
  • • 2 large hot yellow peppers
  • • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • • Juice of 2 limes (cherry tomatoes are not very acidic, rather they are sweet, balance
  • • accordingly to the acid level of your tomatoes)
  • • ½ tbsp horseradish root (bonus points if you find it fresh and grate it yourself)
  • • 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce (vegan varieties are available—others contain anchovy)
  • • 1oz olive juice
  • • Dash of salt and black pepper

 

  1. 1. Blend above ingredients on high until liquified.
  2. 2. Add ice to a 10-12 oz. glass filled with 1 ½ oz. of your favorite local or organic vodka. I like to use TRU Organic coming out of Los Angeles from the Greenbar Collective.*
  3. 3. Garnish is serious on a Bloody Mary. It can make or break it! I find it usually essential to have a celery stick, it not only looks nice but it adds a refreshing flavor. We we fortunate enough to have housemade picked tomatoes which were quite delicious. I have never seen them for retail purchase, so find a different pickle substitute at the local market.
  4. 4. An olive and lemon or lime wedge will finish it off.
  5. 5. Sometimes a spiced salt rim is also nice and some fresh herbs; play around, the possibilities are endless!

 

*The Greenbar Collective is superb. For every bottle of liquor produced, they match it by planting a tree. Because the company is already carbon neutral, they offset more carbon with the trees and become a carbon NEGATIVE company. For you, this means by drinking their liquor, you do more for the planet than by not drinking it. Save the world one Bloody Mary at a time!

You can find it at Bowery and Vine for retail purchase, and if you prefer someone else making your drinks, head over to Candle 79 for a TRU vodka martini and other Greenbar Collective liquors to get your tree planting on.

Three Leaves, Rapanui and Vivobarefoot

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Rapanui is “an Award-Winning Eco-fashion brand from on the Isle of Wight”. They make organic, ethical clothing in factories powered by wind and solar energy. Every piece is rated on its sustainability with a letter grade from A-G: A being organic, ethical and sustainable, and G being none of the aforementioned. Where the award winning comes in however, is through their traceability. For all of their clothing they have both a map and a description of the entire process, what they call “from seed to shop”, showing the journey their clothing takes through the entire supply chain to get to the store. Not only are their products animal friendly, but they also work towards animal welfare.

“At Rapanui we will never use fur and none of the products on our site were made after being tested on animals, nor were they derived from animal products.”

Fairtrade Cotton / FSC Rubber Shoes Wolfpack Sweat

 
Three Leaves, from Red Hook Brooklyn, is a new eCommerce store entering the foray of ethical menswear. That carry brands using eco-friendly materials, with strict certifications like GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), cruelty free shoes like Novacas, and socially responsible brands that would never use sweatshop labor, they strive to offer fashion staples for the uncompromising man. Although not entirely vegan (there is some wool and  leather, e.g. jacket zipper, jean tag) they will make note of it in the item’s description.

 

Vivobarefoot offers eco barefoot shoes suited for most any lifestyle, from trail running to casual. They are made from recycled, locally sourced materials in ethical factories using sustainable production techniques. Each shoe has an eco matrix, in the form of a numerical rating, to score their environmental impact throughout the lifecycle. If a shoe is vegan, it can be found under the shoe’s “features” labeled “Eco Credentials: 100% Vegan”.