[see the bottom of this post for how you can get a copy of the zine made by the 2012-2013 Sea Shepherd Antarctica Crew!]
Welcome to Strongest Hearts: new name, new look, same ideals
Matt and I have been working out the details of this new venture for quite some time. Day in the Life was born out of a kitchen-table discussion where we noticed we have really awesome friends doing rad things. While it seems totally normal to us, (cause doesn’t everyone run 100 miles or ride their bikes for 48 hours?) we want to share with the rest of the world what is possible when you eat plants and push yourself outside your comfort zone. We want to showcase veganism and awesome athletic adventures. What followed was the creation of an 11 episode web-series that have been viewed in more places than I can count. And, on a personal note, it inspired my lazy self into becoming an… athlete. Gasp.
When we first discussed a new name and website, we threw out one we had both thought of at the beginning of our project. Strong Hearts is a zine written by my friend and hero of the animal rights movement, Rod Coronado. I originally found out about Rod when I was 15 years old, after reading an Earth First journal article. He had sunk a whaling ship after working with Sea Shepherd. I told my teacher at school that I would one day make a documentary on both Rod and Sea Shepherd.
We are the Strongest Hearts
To sum up the 15 years since then, I eventually dropped out of film school to sleep on Rod’s couch and work full time on documenting a hunt sabotage campaign in Arizona. The footage became my thesis film when I eventually returned to school. Then last year I found myself on board the M/Y Bob Barker, an anti-whaling ship used by Sea Shepherd, heading to Antarctica to engage in a campaign to stop the slaughter of whales inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. When I expressed my fears to Matt about going, his quick response was “This is why you went to film school.” So off I went to produce the sixth season of the Emmy-nominated docudrama, “Whale Wars.” It was a culmination of years of animal rights activism and filmmaking, and I am still honored to have been part of it (and frankly shocked that it happened). The people that fill the ships of Sea Shepherd are some of the most dedicated and inspiring humans I have met. In an early interview with one of my favorite people on the ship, he referred to his Sea Shepherd comrades as being those with “the strongest hearts in the Southern Ocean.” I could barely hide the smile when I heard it. I emailed Matt (even though I couldn’t send it, since we were in Antarctica) and told him that we had to call our project Strongest Hearts.
While I was never much of an athlete, nothing will remind you of how important physical activity is like being stuck on a small ship with no land in sight for months. Some of the best moments that did not include saving whales came from our Insanity workouts and pull-up contests below deck! It was a great way to be closer with people and let off some of that stressful energy that comes with, you know, almost dying on several occasions.
Physical activity is more than just exercise
When I got back home I wanted to do everything: make videos, race bikes, go running, make more videos, do all the sports! While our videos have always been about promoting veganism, I had a new desire to share with people how important your physical health can be for your mental health. Oh if someone had told me that when I was a lazy angry depressed vegan in my youth! The inspiration I garnered from living with Sea Shepherd crew for the winter also reinvigorated a desire to promote veganism again. Sometimes it seems like the simplest thing, something that can barely be considered activism; but I watched people change their lives in 4 months by adopting a vegan diet and educating themselves to the reasons why. Even after 15 years, I had a new desire to create more vegans. So many vegans!
And so here we are. Strongest Hearts!
Recently we’ve had an influx of our friends not just doing athletic adventures, but amazing business adventures. Restaurant pop-ups, coffee roasters, clothing companies, the list goes on, and they’re doing it all vegan! I couldn’t help but think to highlight them as well, to bring them more business, but also to show people what’s possible when you stick to your morals and passions.
Matt and I are both lucky enough to have been brought up in a music scene that also acted as our vegan community. While I had no vegans at my high school or college, there were countless vegans at the punk shows I went to as a kid, and that was before Whole Foods was even a thing. We realize that not everyone has that, and that some folks don’t have access to a real life vegan to ask questions like “no, seriously where do you get protein?” (by the way, the answer is: cake.) We hope that Strongest Hearts can become a community for the community-less, or for those that want to build a wider community, whether its in the fitness world or animal rights world.
Activism in action
At the core, this site and these videos are about promoting veganism. Matt and I live with an animal liberation mindset, and this is our way of showing it to the world. The more accessible nutrition information is, the more visible healthy vegans are, the less fringe and weird veganism becomes. I have been floored by the response to the videos. It has meant a lot to see people not only moved to adopting a plant-based diet but to considering fitness as an important part of their mental and physical health. We hope you like the videos and feel good about sharing them with your non-vegan and non-athletically-minded friends.
Please help us to keep these going
If you want to help us expand our videos, please consider contributing to our Kickstarter campaign. Let’s be real, neither of us wanted to do a Kickstarter. I had taken the Day in the Life series to a few production companies that were interested in a reality show for cable TV. But what they wanted to make Matt into some weird version of a Biggest Loser coach or stage mom from that kid pageant show. Neither of us felt comfortable with that, and I hope we made the right decision to keep putting these out ourselves. There are many adventures out there for us to capture, but we can only do it with funding. We’ll still probably need to sleep on your couch, though. That’s what community is for, right?
And everyone who donates at least $20 before 11:59pm PST Friday May 30th gets a copy of the zine made by the 2012-2013 Sea Shepherd Antarctica crew!!
Can’t donate right now? Please share our fundraising link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/truelovehealth/strongest-hearts-documentary-series-on-vegan-athle