EMA August Newsletter
EMA’s 2019 Honors Benefit Gala is only a couple of weeks away and you don’t want to miss out. Join us for an elegant evening of celebration, music and fabulous food as we recognize our always spectacular Honorees that are leading the world's sustainable solutions. This will be a night to remember! Secure your tickets or table now for the 2019 EMA Honors Gala. Only limited space still available! Click here to see our past Honorees.
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If you think eating green is boring, think again! This trailblazer is redefining plant-based diets.
Who says being vegan can't be fun? Actress and singer-songwriter, Harley Quinn Smith is putting the fun into plant-based eating. EMA sat down with Harley to get the scoop on her vegan lifestyle.
What inspired you to become a vegan?
There were a lot of contributing factors that determined my decision to become a vegan, but my biggest inspiration was my rabbit, Cinnamon Bun. When I adopted her from the shelter, she was in terrible condition. Before she was surrendered to a shelter, she cohabited with a hundred other rabbits under the care of hoarders. She became a totally different creature once I brought her home. After seeing what compassion could do to an animal’s life, I knew I had to make a change to my diet. I would be a hypocrite if I saw what love did to Cinnamon and didn’t extend that love to all animals. So I went vegetarian, and a year later I went vegan. I’m so thankful for what I’ve learned from my rabbit and will be eternally grateful that she showed me the path to plant-based eating.
What was your motivation to introduce your vegan lifestyle to your family? What inspired them to join you?
My mom has been a vegetarian my entire life. She never pushed vegetarianism on me, which is why I think I naturally gravitated towards it. I really disagree with aggressive and/or forceful forms of activism. I think it turns people away. Because my mom never forced her beliefs on me, I was inspired to adopt a vegan lifestyle for myself and not because it was expected.
My grandparents did not understand why I was making the choice that I did. My grandpa didn’t understand why I wasn’t eating meat like he was. I distinctly remember getting in a huge fight with him over a meal because he didn’t understand why I wasn’t eating meat. One day, my grandparents called me out of the blue and told me that they had been vegetarian for a week. That was two years ago and they’ve been vegetarians ever since. I could not be prouder. Everyone moves at their own pace!
The last to go vegan was my dad. He REALLY did not agree with veganism. He didn’t get it, he didn’t like it, and he would never eat like that! However, a bit over a year ago he had a heart attack. I kept trying to get him to change his diet. And he did! I thought he’d only stick to it for a few months, but he’s been vegan ever since the heart attack and I don’t really foresee him changing back.
I’m so proud of my family and the growth they’ve made to become more compassionate people. And healthy.
What is the positive impact veganism can have on our environment and how can we talk about it?
I think that animal rights directly correlates to environmentalism. The two go hand and hand. If you’re a vegan for the animals like me, your beliefs are still supporting an environmentalist state of mind. For instance, going vegan means that you’re not supporting the animal agriculture industries, which in turn means that you did not contribute to the methane that cows produce, the overuse of water to process animal products, and the excessive amounts of land used for livestock. Going vegan is actually one of the single greatest ways to help the environment because it makes the most immediate effect. Diet change is a journey for sure, but that’s why it’s so important to talk to like-minded people about it so that you know you’re not alone. Talking about it openly and acknowledging your actions while being open to change and growth is the most important part of activism.
How do you discuss vegan practices with your friends?
I never try to push my beliefs on anyone. If someone asks me about it, I will always happily answer any questions they have. I would definitely advise being open about your beliefs but not to push them! And make sure no one feels judged!
How do you show vegan skeptics how truly delicious vegan food can be?
Vegan food is absolutely incredible! There are so many amazing vegan restaurants nowadays. There is also so much you can make at home! If a friend is curious about veganism, I’ll always bring them to one of my favorite restaurants and they usually end up really digging it.
In recognition of EMA's IMPACT network success, we are thrilled to introduce Green Tank. Green Tank is an exclusive EMA newsletter mini-series that spotlights sustainable business founders and the stories behind their innovative ideas.
Meet Amy Keller. You may recognize Amy as EMA's 2019 Future Innovator of the Year. She is the co-founder and CEO of PurePlus+, a triple-bottom-line company dedicated to reducing food waste and making nutrition accessible to vulnerable populations with its plant-based, nutrient-rich powder. PurePlus+ upcycles fruits and vegetables and uses these nutrients across a range of food products including beverages, nutrition bars, superfood powder blends, and baking products. EMA sat down with Amy to learn more about her wildly innovative products.
Tell us how excited you were to find out you were a finalist and then winner of the EMA Future Innovator of the Year Competition? How is working with EMA a part of PurePlus+'s mission and strategy?
I was in shock (and beyond excited) that our start-up will be partnering with EMA, such a valuable organization who’s mission has been educating families all over the world for nearly 3 decades! I could go on and on...We hope to work with EMA to launch our first product FAVES (www.myfavesweets.com) and our 1-for-1 program to give back to children in the most vulnerable communities that need these micronutrients from whole fruits and vegetables the most. With this, PurePlus+ would love to collaborate with EMA to launch a global movement at the intersection of food, health, and the planet. In addition to electing pro-climate leaders and moving to a clean energy economy, food is rising as one of the most powerful levers for reversing climate change. Therefore, our partnership will help people realize and seize their full power to heal ourselves and the planet with what we as individuals choose to eat.
Tell us about your special connection to the food industry and how that influenced you to create PurePlus+.
It all started in Svalbard, Norway on a life-changing journey to the Global Seed Vault in support of food security. The seed vault preserves a copy of each of the world’s seeds for every unique plant allowing humans to replant the world in case of serious disaster. During our trip in Norway, I was reading Paul Hawken’s book, “Drawdown” in which he found that food waste is one of the most impactful things we can improve to slow climate change. How food is produced, what is consumed and how much is lost or wasted all heavily shape the health of people and the planet. By using our current system more efficiently, we can feed the world's population today and tomorrow. This is the lowest hanging fruit (and vegetables) when it comes to solving the puzzle of food loss and waste.
Your background in sustainable advocacy is really impressive. How did your early work with organizations that have environmental/sustainable missions inspire you to become an entrepreneur?
I led advncmnt:projects, working with individuals and organizations to use their resources for global social impact. We took an innovative approach to making social change - one that involves mapping new trends, collaborating with thought leaders, and devising creative solutions to complex problems. I had always known, that if I were to start my own business some day, that I wanted it to make a positive impact on people’s lives and health, and the health of the planet.
With your family's background in the candy business, what ultimately motivated you to create "healthy" candy as your foray in the food industry?
The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you found out why. Growing up my grandfather ran Spangler Candy Co., so DumDum lollipops were constantly surrounding me from the age of one. Fast forward to today where my career is focused on the environment and I’m a seven time Ironman and ultra-marathoner for which nutrition is a very important part of the sport. This motivated me to create PurePlus+ at the intersection of healthy living and indulgent treats that we all crave. Beyond the desire to give people a healthy snack with stealth nutrition, I am also aiming for a way to help heal our delicate home—planet Earth. What brought you to the realization that "bruised fruit and vegetables" have enormous nutritional value? In the US alone, up to 40% of food becomes waste—that’s 63M tons every year, valued at $218B annually. For consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies, fruits and vegetables are the most wasted product and have the highest climate impact. PurePlus+ has built a network of companies and suppliers to connect us to the 2nd tier produce, to use this valuable resource. Can you explain PurePlus+ and your vision for the company? PurePlus+ is created from upcycled fruits and vegetables to create a plant-based powder to add to our products. PurePlus+ first product, FAVES, solves the nutritional challenges of people through delivering daily servings of fruits and vegetables in a sweet wafer. PurePlus+ can be easily integrated into a range of products with our first product aiming to disrupt the “healthy” candy market! Our triple-bottom-line focuses on making people and the planet as important as profits.
Each Sunday, the EMA community shares an optimistic story on social media. From a new plastic ban to a conservation win, these stories are meant to give people hope amidst a news cycle that is too often filled with doom and gloom. Click the images below to share!
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