This month’s special Thanksgiving edition feature is with none other than David Meyer, founder of Adopt-a-pet.com and co-founder of Food System Innovations. David is the embodiment of serving a higher purpose, following his calling to do everything in his power to make the world a better place for animals.
David played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in the launch of Plant Based World Conference & Expo and continues to volunteer his time as an adviser to the growth of the event. He also serves as a strategic adviser to the Plant Based Foods Association. David carries with him a warmth and compassion that is felt the moment you are in the same room with him. Combined with a laser-focused demeanor you would expect from a world champion martial artist and a vast network of meaningful, professional relationships, David is a force to be reckoned with in the movement to create a healthier world.
TPBW: You have made it your mission to advocate for the well being of animals, and this has led you to contribute to the plant-based movement in various capacities. How did you first connect with this life’s purpose and what are some highlights of your animal advocacy work prior to your involvement in the food industry?
David: I have always loved animals. In the mid 1990’s, I decided I wanted to make helping animals my main job. I began by speaking at university philosophy departments in an attempt to get young people more aware and sensitive to animal welfare issues, and ended up founding Adopt-a-Pet.com, which is North America’s largest homeless pet adoption website.
Running a major website dedicated to helping animals has given me the opportunity to learn about about a lot of things. It has also placed me in a position to do some impactful work, for example, I was called upon to help lead the post Hurricane Katrina pet rescue efforts in New Orleans. Having many thousands of animals stranded in flooded homes gave me an opportunity to wed my leadership and organizational skills with hands-on animal rescue, and forged memories and relationships that are still with me today.
Since the 1980’s, I have eaten a plant-based diet, and it always made me feel great- both physically and emotionally, knowing I could survive and indeed thrive without harming animals. I’m a serious martial arts athlete, and am in fact the current world champion in my age group in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and have won multiple world championships now over many years. I credit my diet with allowing me to remain fit and healthy, recover quickly from injuries when they occur, and have long sessions of training without experiencing fatigue.
I’ve recently been volunteering my time to help educate people about plant-based eating and am happy to be a part of the Plant Based World Expo and community.
At what point did you make the connection between the animal advocacy world and the food industry, and what shifts did that bring into your life?
I first learned about plant-based eating when I was in college. I liked the idea of not harming animals, but didn’t understand how it was possible. After all, like so many people ask, where would I get my protein? It wasn’t until I was traveling abroad with my girlfriend at the time who had just decided to go plant-based that I decided to give it a try. I began by eliminating beef and chicken, and about a year later eliminated fish. I continued eating dairy and eggs for some time, but eventually realized I didn’t need those products either as the production of those products has terrible consequences for animal welfare as well.
Once I began eating fully plant-based, my conditioning improved and I felt vibrant and energetic. I have never looked back, and now many of the professional fighters I know and train also have adopted a mostly or entirely plant-based diet.
Today you serve as an advisor to both the Plant Based Foods Association and Plant Based World Conference & Expo. What excites you most about the growth of the plant-based foods industry as we enter 2020?
I’m very happy to see a growing interest in products that don’t harm animals, are better for people’s health, and are much more environmentally sustainable. Although my volunteer time is limited, the skills I’ve acquired over the years seem to be quite useful for the organizations I work with, who themselves are growing and developing strategies, similar to the organization I founded and run.
I imagine there are many people out there who care deeply about animals but are unsure of how to use their time and energy in the most impactful way. What advice do you have to those individuals who feel a calling towards activism but also see the value in working with the system to create change from within?
Well the first thing of course (and potentially the most impactful) is to move towards a mostly or entirely plant-based diet. That change right there has great impact especially over time. When it comes to activism, the real issue or “win” is to get others to see the value of modifying their diet. That comes from a place of compassion and understanding, and I think some advocates forget that. After all, most of us (like myself) grew up eating animal products, and we weren’t bad people. So we need to find ways to live by example, and meet people where they’re at and without judgement.
That’s one reason I’m so excited about the growing industry of plant-based meat, fish, dairy and eggs. These products make it easier for the average people to integrate plant-based eating into their normal diets, and making it easy is the name of the game for average people!
In the spirit of the holiday… what are you most thankful for today?
I am most thankful for my health, and for having been so lucky to be born into an incredible loving family, have amazing friends and colleagues, and to live in a place and time that affords me so many comforts and such an ability to help those less fortunate than me. I hope everyone counts their blessings, and remembers to pay it forward every chance they get.
Thank you David for the intention and dedication you put into your work each day. We are so grateful to have you as a part of our team and community and look forward to continuing to work together to make the world a better place!