Devin Ellsworth

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How I Met My Heroes, Why All Vegans Are Activists, and The Internet

They say you should never meet your heroes because you will just be disappointed. I can say this is not true.

Last Saturday I had the privilege of meeting two of the giants in the whole foods plant-based/vegan movement: Mr. Rich Roll and Mr. David Carter.

I have written about both before on this blog, so check out there posts here (Rich Roll & David Carter).

Each are vegan/plant-based athletes that have inspired my way of thinking in a big way. Rich proved that running on nothing but plants not only isn’t a hindrance to performance, but is a boon in a big way. Rich has defied more odds as an athlete than just about anyone I can think of in the endurance world. And his podcast (The Rich Roll Podcast) is transformative and life changing. Add it to your list NOW.

David Carter has done the same, but in the opposite world — the National Football League, as an offensive lineman. He has proved you can build serious muscle eating nothing but plants.

I recently told a friend about David Carter being 300 pounds and all vegan muscle and he said immediately “where does he get his protein??”

To which I responded, as I always do: food.

Protein is a non-issue, and one I’ve also written about (and here and here and here).

But I am not here to rehash what I’ve already said. Instead, I am here to talk about the vegan and plant-based movement.

On Saturday I attended the DC Veg Fest in the cold, blustery rain that was supposed to be Hurricane Joaquin. And despite the dreary weather, it was impossible to tell if the festival was any less busy because of it. It was packed. And it was awesome.

Both Rich and David spoke, along with Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur. And one audience member had a question for Rich that really got me thinking.

She asked if he felt like we are at a tipping point as a movement, that our numbers are increasing as more and more people everyday are awakened to the realities of animal agriculture. She asked about the theory that once you hit 3.5% of the population that any movement takes on its own momentum and grows exponentially greater.

And Rich answered the exact same way I would have:

“Yes.”

Of course he was more effusive on the subject, but a simple answer is appropriate.

Yes, yes it does feel like there is real momentum behind vegan and plant-based eating. It has never been easier to find great tasting and healthy vegan options at restaurants and in grocery stores. That’s a sign that consumer demand is growing.

The Millenial Generation (talkin about my generation) is said to be significantly more prone to vegan and vegetarian eating. Another sign.

And documentaries like Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy do incredibly well on Netflix and that is a big sign, and a big reason why momentum is growing.

The internet has made it much easier for the truth to get out. We see this in all realms of life, not just eating. Think Ferguson and the issue of police brutality. Has this all of a sudden become an issue? No of course not! It’s been happening for decades, but the ubiquity of smartphones and YouTube makes it easier to shine the light on a dark piece of human behavior.

Animal agriculture is a huge dark spot on the landscape of human behavior. One that is so big and so pervasive that it is relatively easy to shine a light on it.

Which brings me to why I started Plantiful Health

(I’ll get back to how I met Rich and David in a second).

The truth is that I had just finished graduate school and was living at home while job searching and waiting for grants to fund potential projects. After a few months of this I realized that I was helping no one by just sitting on my parents’ couch.

I had just been given a world class education and my head was full of ideas about how to make health, food, and environment better, and yet I was doing nothing.

The internet gave me a voice.

I want to help people improve their lives through their plates, and in the process improve the planet as well. This venture of mine may never generate a single dollar in profit but that’s not the point. That’s not why I got in the game.

Here are some stats that keep me going. Most of my blog posts get between 50-100 reads. In the landscape that is the internet that might sound like small potatoes. But that’s 50-100 people I wasn’t reaching by sitting on the couch doing nothing.

Most of my YouTube videos average around 100 views, with my highest three videos currently at 2,157 views, 5,071 views, and 6,239 views! To date my channel has amassed 20,752 views.

That’s over 20,000 sets of eyeballs I have reached that I wouldn’t have had I just sat here and done nothing.

Which leads me to another thought…

Why most vegans are activists.

It is an unfortunate stereotype that vegans are annoying. We like to talk about being vegan and we aren’t afraid to share that with others. And while I will fully admit that there are many annoying vegans who don’t know when and where to share the message (read: tact), one thing cannot be denied: we are a passionate bunch.

And I think that’s a great thing to be a part of. When you think of it, the fact that most people who go vegan seem to also want others to go vegan, it must mean there is some inherent benefit in this lifestyle, something that we all feel needs to be shared with others. Sure we are passionate about the outside benefits to the environment and the animals.

But for all of you reading this who think “oh man I just could never give up meat, dairy, and eggs” realize that millions of us have AND we think it’s important enough that we encourage others to do the same. Are we really sitting around longing for animal products? Are we just trying to trick you, and once you go vegan we can say “gotcha!!”

Not in the slightest.

This movement is growing in a big way. And meeting Rich and David was inspiration for me to keep going, to keep spreading this life saving, animal saving, planet saving message.

All voices count. If you are passionate about something, sing it from the rooftops. The internet has given you a voice. Use it.

Thanks for reading.


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