When a once in a lifetime opportunity comes along, we don’t want to miss it.
Last week was one of those moments for me.
I had the privilege, honor and joy of meeting Vani Hari AKA the Food Babe and spending one-on-one time with her.
I met her earlier in the day in the press room at the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore – an event showcasing the up and coming trends and products in the natural products industry. I had wanted to go for years, but it’s expensive, and prior to this year, I didn’t have the credentials needed to get in to the event.
As a blogger, I found out that I’m considered “press” and got to attend for free! 🙂
I was like a kid on Christmas, brimming with excitement about what I would learn and thrilled that I would be spending the day with other like-minded people who share my passion. (Stay tuned for a post on my favorite food finds at the expo!)
About a week before the event, I saw a post on the Food Babe’s Facebook page about an exclusive fundraising dinner for GMO-labeling that would be held in Baltimore the Thursday of the expo.
Had I read that right?
I couldn’t believe that one of THE leaders, mover shakers and change agents in the health and food industry was going to be in my hometown of Baltimore…and that I might have the chance to meet her!
Millions of people have rallied behind Vani in what is known as the Food Babe Army to support the charge she is leading to get the junk out of our food supply and demand that the food industry be transparent about and remove the harmful chemicals they’ve put in our food.
Subway, Kraft, Chick-fil-a and most recently, Starbucks, have felt the restlessness and discontent of the Food Babe’s followers and the collective power they have to spark change.
Despite my initial reservations about the cost of the dinner and the fact that I wouldn’t know anyone, I had a feeling it would be worth it, so I bought my ticket to what would ultimately be a sold out event.
It was a perfect late summer night, as all of the attendees gathered on the rooftop level of The Inn at the Black Olive restaurant with a delicious, local, organic spread laid out before us.
We listened intently as several of the speakers shared updates about what is happening in the movement to demand labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply.
As dinner was winding down, I finished my conversation with my neighbor and looked to the other side of the room where Vani was chatting with a few other people.
I met the Food Babe!
Hoping I might have the chance to talk with her one-on-one, I lingered a bit. She signaled to me that she wanted to talk with me as she mouthed, “Are you leaving?” from across the room. I turned to the side, assuming she must have been talking to someone other than me.
I realized she wasn’t.
“Who, me?? Nope, not going anywhere!”
I was beyond thrilled that she was going to make time for me.
For the next 20 minutes or so, Vani sat with me, giving me her undivided attention, as she graciously listened to me recount some of my health journey and share my passion for why I do what I do and how I pursue my calling to help others transform their lives through food.
I asked her if she had any words of wisdom to share with me, any lessons she had learned along the way.
I tried to take in what she shared and store it in my memory for later, as I wasn’t writing anything down while we talked. I’ve captured the gist of our conversation below.
6 Lessons I Learned from The Food Babe
Vani experiences this first hand just about everyday.
Whether it’s Starbucks telling her they don’t want to meet with her or a grocery store kicking her out, she doesn’t let rejection or dismissals like that dismay her.
They just fuel her fire even more and give her yet another reason to keep fighting for what she and many others know is right.
No matter what you’re going through or what fight you’re fighting, be encouraged that you are doing it for a reason. Don’t let anybody tell you no if you’re fighting for what’s right.
One of the things Vani told me was that she held herself back more than anyone else.
Prior to going into blogging and activism full-time, she was working at a bank but was repeatedly encouraged by family and friends to drop the corporate gig and pursue her passion for food and health as a career.
She had been reading the book The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte at the time and developing clarity around her purpose and what she really wanted to do with her life.
Vani said the book asks questions that help you “get real” with yourself about what you’re meant to do, which is exactly what she was trying to do two years ago in the midst of a career transition.
After going through the questions in the book, she said she felt SO clear about what she was supposed to do with her life. She just hadn’t taken that next step to make it happen.
The tipping point came on New Year’s Eve two years ago when she and her husband were at the top of Machu Picchu in Peru. Her phone (which hadn’t been working for days) suddenly came on, and in her email inbox was a notice from her job indicating that her current contract was about to expire.
She had to let them know whether she wanted to renew it.
With encouragement and affirmation from her husband, Vani made the decision in that moment not to renew her contract and to go after her passion as an activist and consumer advocate full-time.
If there’s something that makes your soul come alive and fuels your passion, go after it! You have been given that desire and that fire for a reason.
Following Vani’s recommendation, I ordered the book and am already loving what I’m reading! You can find it on Amazon if you want to order it for yourself to help you develop clarity about what you’re meant to do.
Vani got a little choked up when we got to this part.
In her corporate job, she said all she was doing was making more money for the bank. That wasn’t cutting it – not for someone as purpose-driven and intentional as she is.
She wanted to do something that would impact people’s lives and make the world a better place.
“How do we want to be remembered when we’re gone?” she asked.
“I do this because I want to help people. I want to make a difference.”
Whatever you do with your life – whether you’re raising the next generation as a stay-at-home parent, nurturing and training kids as a teacher, guiding and coaching people through challenging areas of life, like finance or health, or simply serving people with kindness and humility – commit to making the world a better place just by being in it.
I took some creative liberty with the exact wording on this one, but here’s the gist of what Vani said in a speech earlier that night:
“The more progress we make, the more haters come out.”
All the more reason to keep fighting.
Vani shared with me that one of the challenges she runs into is that people question her credibility and qualifications to do what she does.
“I’m not a doctor or a food scientist,” she acknowledged.
But, you don’t have to be a doctor to impact people’s health and change their lives.
I face a similar feeling of inadequacy at times. “I’m not a dietitian or a nutritionist,” I tell myself. Some could use that as a reason to dismiss what I have to say about food and nutrition.
My dad? He’s an organizational consultant who is an expert at helping people and businesses get “unstuck.” He’s so good at what he does, he could have his own TV show and easily write a book. His background? Secondary Education and American History.
People come to us for guidance, advice or a listening ear because they can are inspired by our passion, know how voraciously we pursue knowledge and see our commitment to excellence.
But, most importantly, because they know we genuinely care.
So, no matter who we are or what our training is or isn’t, here’s the truth:
We know enough to help someone.
We don’t have to have a particular title or training to make a difference in the world.
What we do need are passion, intellect, a desire to relentlessly pursue TRUTH, and persistence to “stick with it” when times get tough or we’re discouraged.
It’s going to take all of us coming together to make change happen.
It can’t be up to one person.
Sharing information is how we spread messages about what is true, right and good. Share what you learn with your friends, family, workplace, community, etc.
The Food Babe knows that much of her reach and success are due in large part to the Food Babe Army rallying behind her on social media and in their communities, doing their part to get the message out to their circles of influence.
The more we share information intended to make the world a better place and help people, the greater our likelihood of having an impact.
If you have information or a skill or tool that can help another person, share it!
My hope is that you walk away from this post inspired and ready to stand up for whatever you believe in, whatever fuels your fire, whatever makes you come alive.
One person can make a difference. The more we support each other, the greater the ripple effect each of us can have on the world.