TPBW is excited to bring you this month’s feature with none other than Nil Zacharias. Nil co-founded and built One Green Planet into the internet’s largest digital platform focused on sustainability and has now branched off his Eat For The Planet brand with the intention of having an even bigger impact on our food system. Nil has been an invaluable adviser to the Plant Based World team since day one and is also the official partner for the Eat For The Future Business Forum taking place alongside Plant Based World Conference & Expo in NYC this June.
In this article, Nil shares his perspective on shifting his focus to new projects and the greater mission he is investing his energy in at a time when our planet needs it most. He also shares advice for influencers and entrepreneurs seeking to use their gifts to have an impact on our evolving world.
You’ve recently shifted your focus from One Green Planet, which was more of a consumer-facing media platform, to Eat For The Planet, which started as a book, then a podcast and is turning into something even bigger. Why have you chosen to focus your energy on this new outlet and what is your vision for the brand in years to come?
Nil: The Eat For The Planet brand truly encapsulates why I started focusing on the food industry. It actually launched as a social media campaign to raise awareness about the environmental impact of industrial animal agriculture, because barely anyone was talking about the issue (at least not back in 2015). The core thesis is really simple: our food system is broken and as our population grows to nearly 10 billion people by the year 2050 we won’t be able to feed the world without destroying the planet’s life support systems like our rain forests and our oceans. If we continue with business as usual, we’re going to face a global health and environmental crisis. So what do we do about it? We change the way people eat and change the food environment to make those choices easier. Of course, this is easier said than done.
So the question for me was what’s my role going to be in this effort in the years to come and where can I have the most impact? To me the answer was Eat For The Planet, which I can best describe as a catalyst and a hub that focuses on the intersection of food, the environment and human health, and the ideas, technologies and people that are shaping a better future.
Given my background in media and storytelling, that’s the core skill we bring to the table and then layer it with the right collaborators who can help turn ideas into specific projects, whether books, a podcast, a food business conference, a health and wellness platform, or whatever new initiatives we launch.
I think of all these new projects as ways to shape information, campaigns and stories, packaging them to have the most impact. Quite simply, the vision is to be a facilitator and an engine that launches, supports and promotes efforts that get us off the destructive path we are on.
Eat For The Planet has partnered with Plant Based World Conference & Expo to launch the Eat For The Future Business Forum at the Javits Center this June. What are you hoping to accomplish through this new event and what excites you the most about the conference program you are developing?
The Eat For the Future Business Forum is a great example of exactly the type of project I want to be taking on with Eat For The Planet. Perfectly aligned with my mission, highly collaborative and designed to be impactful.
The future food system isn’t just going to build itself because of the efforts of one company. We need idea-sharing, collaboration, and urgent solutions to some very practical challenges being faced by various stakeholders who are part of this growing movement for better food. Moreover, the plant-based food industry, in particular, has witnessed unprecedented growth and deserves a dedicated professional forum that can further accelerate the momentum in the space.
What better way to achieve this than an event that brings together all the right stakeholders, from brands to retailers, food service providers, and investors under one roof for a two day event to dive deep into topics that impact all their businesses and for endless networking opportunities?
My goal is for this event to become the premier business conference that helps kick start conversations and collaborations that will grow into game-changing solutions for our future food system. There has never been a conference like this before. I’m most excited about the stellar roster of speakers, who represent some of the biggest food brands, retailers, and organizations, that will cover the depth and breadth of the opportunities in this growing sub-segment of the food industry. Every session, speaker, and moderator has been selected with the goal of curating the most impactful two days of programming.
My hope is that people who attend this conference are going to walk away inspired to continue the work they are doing in the food industry, but also energized to be a part of such a collaborative, mission-driven movement to shape the future of food.
Another project you are in the midst of launching is called MostlyPlants. Can you tell us a bit about the MostlyPlants concept and platform and how it fits into the ever evolving food-tech landscape?
MostlyPlants came about when Matt Tullman (Alpine Organics/No Meat Athlete), T.K. Pillan (Veggie Grill/PowerPlant Ventures) and I realized that we all knew people who were curious about eating plant-based, yet confused about what to eat + the basics of nutrition, and wished we had a better way to help them. So we started brainstorming ways we could help people shift their eating habits to be more plant-forward with the goal of helping them experience the life changing benefits.
And thus MostlyPlants was born.
It is an online health and wellness platform that’s designed to be your best friend for better eating. We provide a simple and effective healthy eating program driven by bite-sized daily videos, infographics, and tips – all of which are delivered by an inspirational guide who is an Olympian and Registered Holistic Nutritionist. You also get on-call personalized coaching and community support. We basically guide and support you through the process and will hold your hand every step of the way.
What I really love about MostlyPlants is we’ve been able to develop a program that’s designed to be the easiest way to enjoy the health benefits of a plant-based diet, with no calorie counting, no tracking of macronutrients and absolutely no deprivation. Moreover, it is backed by science and tested by hundreds of users.
With interest in flexitarian eating on the rise, I think MostlyPlants could be great for people who have heard about the health and environmental benefits of plant-based foods, but find the idea of the strictness of going plant-based/vegan very intimidating. It can also be a great option for people who are sick of fad diets and weight loss programs and want a simple and effective solution to kick start a long term lifestyle change.
MostlyPlants has the potential to make a big impact and is a very crucial (and often-ignored) puzzle piece without which we won’t be able to complete the big picture solution of feeding 10 billion people by 2050 in a healthy and sustainable way.
You started with a media platform, developed influence in the food/sustainability space and are now using that influence to create real change in the food system. What advice would you give to other influencers and aspiring entrepreneurs in the community who want to use their voice beyond social media to create a business that will be both sustainable and impactful?
I think anyone who is looking to make an impact and create real change in the food system should firstly ask themselves two simple questions. What am I good at? And what kind of work feels natural and authentic to me? Try to be very specific with your answers. And while the answers to both these questions can change over time (especially the former, because you should always be learning and expanding your skill set and outlook on the world), if you even attempt to focus on an area that does not reflect your true passion, you’re not going to be able to wake up every day, driven to make things happen and consequently you are probably not going to have the impact you want to have.
While this may appear limiting on the surface, the reality is the food system is big and complex with multiple moving parts and there are a myriad of ways to bring your particular skills and passions to the table. In addition, I cannot stress how important it is to connect with people and genuinely offer help and explore opportunities to collaborate, often with nothing expected in return. You may succeed on your own, but with the help of trusted relationships, there are literally no limits to what can be achieved.
At the end of the day, you can boil it down to 3 things: know yourself, keep learning, and build trust.
Bonus question, and you should have known this one was coming – what is your vision for our food system in the year 2050?
I strongly believe we will help create a food system that feeds the world without destroying our planet’s life support systems like our rain forests and our oceans, because of the steps we are taking right now.
This new food system will use technology to improve our lives and nourish us in convenient ways rather than mass producing more cheap, fast, unhealthy food.
People will consume less conventionally produced meat, plant-based foods will replace staples in refrigerators and pantries and more people will embrace whole plant foods.
As a result of this shift – by the year 2050 – we will have a healthier population of humans living in balance with the environment around them.
Big thanks to Nil Zacharias and his teams at EFTP and MostlyPlants. Beyond his dedication, experience and enthusiasm about the plant-based movement, Nil is one of the friendliest, most open-hearted individuals you can meet and working with him on these exciting projects continues to be an absolute pleasure.
Be sure to say hi in person this June at the Javits Center, and don’t forget to reserve your Eat For The Future Business Forum pass by this Sunday to save $100 with Early Bird Pricing!