By Mark MacDonald
NANAIMO – VEGAIN has a new partner in its fight for market share in the competitive sports nutrition industry – an undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight fighter.
Ian Machado Garry, who is a vegan, has signed an exclusive endorsement partnership with the independent Canadian brand, co-founded by Melissa L’Heureux-Hache and Edan Wolk. VEGAIN offers products like the Plant-Based Mass Gainer and V-POWER Plant-Based Protein.
“I’m thrilled to partner with VEGAIN,” says Garry. “Choosing a plant-based diet was strategic for keeping my body in top condition. VEGAIN’s supplements support this choice by helping me train harder, recover faster, and perform better.”
Plant-based protein supplements have become players in the sector, which been traditionally dominated by animal-based protein in efforts to improve performance.
“Ian truly is ‘The Future’ of MMA and proves that being the World’s best can absolutely be achieved on a plant-based diet,” claims Wolk. “Our mission is to provide athletes with the cleanest, most effective products possible, that are better for their performance, the planet, and their health.”
L’Heureux-Haché adds “As an independent brand with a deep passion for fitness, partnering with Ian feels like a natural fit. Ian embodies the spirit of what VEGAIN stands for – excellence, innovation, and a dedication to being the best. We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership and the message it sends about the power of plant-based nutrition in professional sports.”
Prior to opening VEGAIN’s headquarters in Nanaimo in 2023, Wolk says they ran the Noble Brands branding agency, dedicated to environmental responsibility.
“This idea has been in the pipeline for a long time. It’s very close to our hearts, and we’re very passionate about it,” says Wolk, adding he and L’Heureux-Hache are vegans. “When I first transitioned to be plant-based – Melissa was vegan before me – I knew it was important to her so I figured I would try, and I started feeling really good.
“My baseline was really good. My performance was better, I was sleeping better, I wasn’t feeling bloated or gassy,” he states. “When we started chatting with Ian, that’s basically been the same with him. When he initially started a plant-based diet, he was getting tested and doctors thought he was doping because the results were so good.”
The journey with Garry began 19 months ago, when Wolk and L’Heureux-Hache received an email from his team.
“We thought it was spam. . .we didn’t believe it,” Wolk recalls. “They said they loved the brand and would love to work together with us. He’s a huge figure in the vegan community, and is shattering a lot of the preconceived notions in an industry and sport known for a lot of masculinity. Having a top 10 UFC fighter repping our brand is phenomenal.”
Wolk explains that their products are as effective as animal-based proteins because “essentially, it comes down to the amino acids in the protein itself. The body doesn’t differentiate where the proteins come from, but it uses those proteins to synthesize into muscle. What we’ve done is created a blend with all of our products that so they come with complete protein profiles.
VEGAIN worked with a lab for a long time before they came up with what they believed was a winning formula.
“We really wanted to compete and launch products that would blow standard non-vegan products out of the water,” he says, adding they come with a 100 percent satisfaction, 30 day guarantee. “The big thing is flavour. A lot of products out there taste like dirt and have that same texture. We wanted to focus on the flavour and taste, without adding fillers.”
Wolk says they didn’t want to position their brand as “another militant vegan company where we ostracize people. We have a lot of bodybuilders that use our products now, and they’re not vegans. The baseline everyone agrees on is they want the best thing for their family and their health.”