Today I wanted to share the passion and compassion of a dear friend who’s saving the lives of animals in more ways than one. He’s a vegan bodybuilder with a heart of gold who is spreading his message through his apparel line and donating 100% of profits to animals in need. What started off as a “Pay It Forward” social media concept, just 16 months ago, has transformed into something bigger called One to Save Many — a 501c3 nonprofit with a powerful message that gives back to animals.
What's more, the care and love that goes into curating and packaging his merchandise is almost as big as his care and love for the animals. Each order is carefully packaged and includes a sweet note from Brent — between the notecard with a sweet farm animal and a handwritten message from Brent, the note alone is enough to make your heart swell. Plus, the t-shirts, tanks, and sweatshirts are super duper cozy!
I hope you enjoy his story as much as I did and appreciate the love he holds in his heart for all beings.
Can you share your personal journey into veganism and bodybuilding? What inspired you to pursue both of these passions?
I've been lifting weights for almost 30 years (I'm almost 50), vegetarian for almost 15 years, and vegan for almost five years. Over 15 years ago I brought a business partner into my company who was vegetarian. He is an amazing person who led by example, and learning more about why he was vegetarian inspired me to try the same. I have been a huge animal lover my entire life, and talking to him it made sense to go vegetarian. It's funny looking back, I remember seeing pictures of vegetarian bodybuilders wondering "how they got their protein." Ten years later I was on a vegetarian/keto diet, and one year I was tired of eggs and cheese, and decided to try vegan keto. At the time, I thought dairy farms were happy places and had no idea the cruelty I was contributing to. I went vegan more to see if I could make the shift for health reasons and hadn't even considered the impact on animals. After I went vegan, only then did I start seeing the insane cruelty that happened in the dairy industry.
I've always lifted weights on and off for the past 30 years, but it wasn't until I met a now close friend, John Thomas (@thebodybuildingvegan), that I realized what true bodybuilding was. I hired John as a coach to help me with some fitness related hurdles, and was introduced to the bodybuilding world as a vegan. About a year after meeting John I founded One to Save Many (OTSM) based on using bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts as walking billboards for veganism. What better way to show the world "we get enough protein" than to have jacked athletes walking around advertising they are vegan. As a business owner, up until I started OTSM, 100% of my activism had been donations. Using my body as activism was an easy way for my to help animals within my limited capacity.
Many people associate bodybuilding with a diet high in animal products. How do you maintain your physique on a vegan diet, and what are your favorite plant-based protein sources?
Most of my protein comes directly from beans, lentils, and nuts. Some of my favorites are Banza chickpea pasta, Nutcase Meats, tofu, and tempeh. I get more protein now as a vegan than I ever got eating animal products. Plus, the food I eat now is so much more enjoyable.
In the fitness industry, there's often a focus on supplements and performance-enhancing products. Can you discuss any vegan-friendly supplements or strategies that have worked well for you in your strength training journey?
The only supplement outside of vitamins I take is creatine. I've tried tons of supplements over the years, and never experienced any significant benefits.
Can you share what a typical day of eating looks like for you? Is there anything specific you consume before training or after training to help maximize your training and recovery?
Owning multiple businesses, my days are extremely demanding with not a lot of time for cooking. I typically do meal prep every five days which allows me to spend minimal time in the kitchen. I practice intermittent fasting so I don't eat my first meal until 10am which is a larger meal. An hour after that I try to eat a small snack of fruit and nuts. Around noon or 1pm I head to the gym and, depending on the intensity of my workout, I may eat an energy bar. After my workout, I'll typically drink a protein smoothie or eat some oatmeal with almond powder and fruit in it. For dinner, I'll have another pre-prepared meal. Depending on how intense my workout is and how I feel, I may do a little snacking. I've spent the past couple years trying to learn how to eat intuitively. Eating smaller meals and small snacks so as to not overeat. This also means that my eating schedule is not strict and if I am still hungry 1/2 hour after I eat a meal, I will eat something else.
What's your favorite vegan food? I don't have a favorite food, but I rarely eat out, so when I get to go to a good vegan restaurant, THAT is my favorite. ;)
Tell us about your clothing business and how it aligns with your vegan and animal sanctuary advocacy. What motivated you to start this venture?
I had been having conversations with a close friend, and we were going into coffee shops, buying really large gift cards, and telling the barista to buy coffee for anyone having a bad day. (Editors Note: Love this idea!)
This led to me trying to find a way to do a "pay it forward" for animals. In June of 2022, over one hundred #VEGAINZ T-Shirts and Tanks were sent to vegans all across the world at no charge. In return, they were asked to make a donation of any size to their favorite animal rescue, sanctuary, or charity. The response was incredible! People loved the shirts, but more than that, they loved giving to the animals and being a part of the movement. Recipients of the shirt loved wearing them to the gym and showing other gym goers that their gains were cruelty free.
I was, and still am, always trying a way to change the world in regards to animals. Trying to maximize what my efforts can do on a crippling scale. Donations to sanctuaries hit the symptoms of factory farming, but the T-shirts hit it on a bigger scale. Leading by example, showing others you can be compassionate and muscular is something that has the potential to make an enormous impact.
Could you explain the concept of donating all profits to sanctuary animals? How do you choose which sanctuaries to support, and what impact
has your business had on these organizations?
We donate to any charity whose impact affects the welfare of animals. As an example, Vegmichigan is not a sanctuary. They are a charity that goes to schools, colleges, and events to give away free plant-based food and information about how their choices impact their health, the planet, and animals. They convert so many people to a plant based lifestyle, which in turn saves thousands of animals. We love working with animal charities that are making the biggest impact. Choosing is always the most difficult part as we only have a limited amount to give and there are so many charities in need. The simple answer is we look for where our donation can make the biggest impact on animal welfare.
Your clothing line has a unique selling point due to its ethical mission. How do you convey this message to your customers, and what kind of response have you received?
Currently, the majority of our marketing is done on social media, and it is done by our customers and influencers. We are so fortunate to have such passionate supporters that want to get behind our cause. They are constantly sharing posts and stories wearing their OTSM garb, trying to inspire others to do the same. Our supporters are truly incredible and we wouldn't be where we are without all their hard work.
Could you share any memorable stories or experiences you've had with sanctuary animals that have reinforced your commitment to your cause?
Most of our sanctuary interactions are remote through pictures and videos of our sanctuaries we support. The stories they share and how our donations help the animals is what reinforces why we do what we do. Whenever we do get to visit local sanctuaries and look into the eyes of the animals there, it reinforces why we do what we do. Whenever we see a video inside a factory farm or in a dairy farm, it reinforces why we do what we do. There is definitely no shortage of gas being poured on our fire.
What advice would you give to individuals who are interested in adopting a vegan lifestyle or starting a socially responsible business but feel overwhelmed or unsure where to begin?
Know that there is a vegan family out here waiting for you that wants to help you. Vegans are some of the biggest hearted and supportive people on the planet. Ask for help. We all struggle to get people to try a plant-based lifestyle, we will do whatever it takes to keep you on one!
Balancing bodybuilding, running a business (actually TWO!), and advocating for animal rights can be challenging. What are some strategies you've developed to manage your time effectively and stay motivated?
Actually THREE lol - It is overwhelming for sure. Becoming mindful of your physical and mental limitations is key to maximizing your effectiveness. If you are worn down, sick, or emotionally exhausted, you will not be useful to anyone. Learn to see the flags that tell you when you need to rest.