Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Phil!

Meet Phil Martens, a strong advocate for the animals who is always up for a conversation. He’s the founder of G-Werx® Fitness and has been a volunteer with CAA since 2008. 

Phil started volunteering with CAA because he hoped to make a difference. “I wanted to do something and looked for a volunteering community promoting vegetarianism––I was a vegetarian at the time––and I reached out to CAA and said, ‘Hey, do you guys need any help? I’d like to do something more than just not eat animals, maybe help other people figure out what I’ve learned.’”

He’s enjoyed volunteering with Veg Pledge, a program encouraging people to try out living plant-based for a week. “You get to encourage people and ask, ‘Hey, what do you have to lose? What’s this going to hurt for you to just not eat animals for one week?’ and talk to them about it,” said Phil of the program. “People say, ‘Hey, I’ll give it a shot, why not?’ and that’s a lot of fun and rewarding.”

In addition to Veg Pledge, Phil has also volunteered with pay-per-view video outreach, Bridges of Respect, Twin Cities Veg Fest, and more. He considers video outreach to be an important part of animal rights activism, noting, “[an outreach event] doesn’t get everybody, but there’s always somebody who walks away from it that is changed forever.”

“I think most of us think or thought, ‘I could never give up cheese,’ or, ‘it would be hard to give up eggs,’ or whatever, but in the end, the price that’s paid for these is not worth it,” said Phil.

 

Developing advocacy

Throughout his plant-based life, Phil’s advocacy for the animals has changed. “Back in the day, I didn’t talk to people [about being vegan]. I kept it to myself, because often people would lash out or ask questions and I didn’t feel I knew enough about to give answers to.” 

“But then something changed. I started educating myself on every aspect of animal agriculture,” said Phil. Everything indeed––from environmental impacts including resource use, climate change, species extinction, deforestation, pollution, and superbugs, to cruelty and abuse inflicted on animals, health impacts, and more. “It is the most horrific industry in every way.”

Today, Phil is ready for any question and conversation. After extensively researching the whys to live a plant-based life, “I can talk to anybody whether hostile or friendly and remain calm and unflustered. There’s an answer to anything anybody has to say and it leads to the same conclusion––we shouldn’t be eating animals.”

 

Supporting a plant-based fitness community

As for his community at G-Werx Fitness, “Everybody knows I’m vegan,” said Phil. Throughout the years as a trainer, Phil has enjoyed hearing about his clients’ lifestyle changes and plant-based adventures. He now enjoys answering any questions they have. “I’ve had many clients who have come and said, ‘You know, I’m doing a meatless Monday or I’m vegetarian now,’ or they come and say, ‘Oh my goodness I made a cashew casserole. It was 100% vegan and I can’t believe how good it was!’” Phil loves joking back, “Vegans eat more than grass and it can be great!”

Although living a veg-friendly lifestyle isn’t the primary focus of his business, when asked by clients looking for a protein boost, Phil recommends plant-based protein brands like Vega or Garden of Life and says stay away from whey. “The whole delusional protein craze started in the fitness industry,” Phil explains. “It started based on a symbiotic relationship between the fitness magazines writing stories hyping protein to help whey distributors who were taking out full-page ads in their mag. It had nothing to do with reality. The meat and dairy industry picked up on this tactic and high protein requirements become part of the national health narrative, but nobody was talking about protein 20, 30 years ago. It wasn’t an issue. And nobody has ever been hospitalized for a protein deficiency unless they were starving to death.” 

Phil’s passion and expertise in the fitness industry shine. He developed and patented a unique workout system and machine that are used at three G-Werx locations. And he definitely utilizes the platform, making sure to keep himself available to answer questions his clients may have about being plant-based. “I have the opportunity to talk with people about it regularly because of what I do,” said Phil. 

He has advice to those looking to make more plant-based choices in the long term, and to those coaching others make the change. “Learn more about all of the reasons to be vegan because the more facts you know, plant-based choices become clear as the right choices.”

Are you interested in volunteering? Sign up for our volunteer list today and keep an eye on our website and social media for more events and ways to get involved with the growing Twin Cities plant-based community.

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