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photos by JP Bevins

Joshua Katcher grew up with a fascination for comic book heroes and villains, listening to punk rock and believing he could change the world for animals. Today, Katcher has maintained those idealistic roots, knowing that a strong physical body, a commitment to pushing boundaries and an entrepreneurial and academic pursuit of creating aspiration and desire with sustainable, vegan fashion is a powerful formula that works. In our second installation of Healthy Hero, LÄRABAR, respected for their simple, real ingredients that you can recognize, asked The Discerning Brute to turn the camera back on our founder and editor. Contributor Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD asks the questions.
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MR: What is it like to be a entrepreneur and educator in New York City?
JK: It’s a lot of work! I mean seven days a week, morning-to-night (and sometimes middle-of-the-night) kind of work. But when you work for yourself and you teach subject matter about which you’re passionate, it becomes the kind of work you’re excited and fulfilled to do. In February I’ll be starting my second semester teaching at Parsons The New School. I’ll also be going into my fifth year as a business owner with Brave GentleMan and my seventh year with TheDiscerningBrute.com. There’s something about New York City that is both thrillingly motivating in collaborating and what we have access to, but also terrifying in what we’re up against. Almost everyone I know here has a lot on the line, but we manage to forge ahead and have fun, too.

MR: Demanding work isn’t just tough on the mind, it’s tough on the body. How do you stay physically strong and healthy?
JK: Veganism and crossfit. I started doing crossfit almost three years ago and it’s the first time in my life I’ve actually had fun working out and seen significant results. At this point I go several times a week because I love it. I belong to a local cossfit gym where the coaches are fantastic and the athletes have become friends. I initially gave crossfit a try because I had a neck injury from a car accident. After trying acupuncture, yoga, massage and physical therapy, I was told I’d need surgery. I refused and believed that if I could build up my muscles, it would heal. Crossfit was the only thing that worked, and years later I’m pain-free and doing things I never thought I would.

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thumbMR: How do you prepare for a workout?
JK: If I’m lucky enough to get to the gym with 5 minutes to spare, I’ll roll out on the foam roller or use a lacrosse ball to attack some tight muscles or knots. I’ll grab something to eat that’s convenient and simple like a LÄRABAR. I really like the Blueberry Muffin and Coconut Cream Pie flavors. There’s just a few ingredients like fruit, nuts, spices, and sometimes chocolate which are perfect for helping me power through an intense workout. I also finally invested in lifting shoes which made big improvements to my performance.

MR: You don’t often see “vegan” paired with “crossfit”. What do you eat?
JK: It’s true, crossfit is more associated with paleo. But I have no trouble performing competitively on a vegan diet. There are so many top athletes who are vegan – from the NFL football field and the MMA ring to the Olympics and the strongman competitions. The myths about veganism being insufficient are impossible to maintain in the face of results. I love cooking and eating, it’s almost as cathartic as working out! I try to make time to cook at least one meal a day. One of my favorite go-to meals is simply grabbing a bunch of vegetables and making a big stew. I always start with onions, garlic and mushrooms and then build it out from there. Last night it was Leek, Bok choy, rainbow chard, butter beans, wakame, squash and miso. Tonight it might be shallot, trumpet mushroom, veggie sausage, broccoli, spinach and black eyed peas. I can make a lot and warm it up for the next day, and in the colder months nothing is quite as good as hot stew.

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MR: What is the creative process for Brave GentleMan?
JK: Brave GentleMan is very much about combining classic style with future textiles. We take a narrative approach to our collection, and the story typically is about what a man of the future would realistically be wearing – and that has so much to do with how it was made, who made it, and of what was it made? The most exciting innovations in fashion rarely happen in the cut of the pants or jacket. They are happening in the makeup of the textiles. From synthetic biology labs to low-impact recycling to bio-based synthetics and plant-based organics, we are evolving toward an era of the most high-performance and customizable materials we’ve ever seen. One of the most fantastic parts of these advancements is that animals no longer need to be raised, confined and killed simply for their hairs and skins.

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MR: What projects do you have up your sleeve for the coming year?
JK: I’m finishing up my first book, Fashion & Animals, and I’ve got some great new shoe styles for SS15 and AW15/16. We’ll also be scaling up production of accessories like belts and offering suiting in some gorgeous new textiles. I have some fantastic collaborations coming soon that I can’t yet talk about! And Maybe there’s a flagship store in NYC in our near future?

MR: What advice do you have for people who want to get healthy?
JK: You can do far more than which you believe you are capable. You can get stronger. You can work harder. You can do something you love. People who pursue life in this way never go into it with things perfectly planned. It will never feel comfortable to take risks or to push yourself beyond what you thought were your limits. But once you do, there is nothing else like it.

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This post is sponsored by LARABAR.