We firmly believe that living well is not just about one or two things – it’s a holistic experience. From the food we eat to the makeup we use, we always take extra special care to make the most conscious of choices and read our labels thoroughly. But what about the ingredients we don’t know about – or what’s not even listed?
Enter Food Babe, aka Vani Hari. This wellness activist is determined to not only educate us on the ins and outs of what goes into our bodies, but to change the way the food industry functions altogether. By working with some of the top food corporations in the country, she has spearheaded unprecedented change in the heath world (remember when Subway famously removed the toxic ingredients in their sandwich bread last year? Yep, that was Vani’s doing). We’re listening in on the interview between our friends at Our Body Book and this change-making activist. We have a whole new look at what it really means to be a wellness warrior…
Many corporations still insist on secrecy when it comes to ingredients, particularly here in the United States. Did you know that food companies sell different versions of their foods in Europe where they eliminate ingredients that are included in foods sold here? Well Vani Hari, known by her widely popular blog The Food Babe, is on a crusade to educate consumers about the ingredients found in common grocery store and restaurant foods. Hari uses her blog and its followers, the Food Babe Army, to shine a spotlight on this practice with many companies removing the toxic ingredient(s) as a result.
Hari has just released her first book, The Food Babe Way. Here, she tells us more about the book, her journey, and what she loves most about her body.
THE BODY BOOK: One of our favorite mottos is “you are what you eat.” In the book you list “The Sickening 15,” which are ingredients in food – from hormones to high fructose corn syrup – that are making us sick. What is the first step the average person can take to begin eliminating these from their food?
VANI HARI: The most important thing someone can do is to change where they shop to a natural grocery store. Then begin to read ingredient lists and stop looking at the front of packaging for information about the product and its health benefits. Read labels and start to research what you are eating.
TBB: What’s been some of the best feedback you’ve received?
VH: The best feedback I receive is when I hear individual stories of how my book The Food Babe Way has changed a persons life. I had a reader recently tell me that she started following The Food Babe Way and immediately felt better and had more energy. On the second week on the 21 day plan she found out she was pregnant. The letter she wrote me thanking me for not only changing her health but for giving her unborn child a great start to a healthy life was one of the best letters I have ever received. It is feedback like this which reminds me that the work I am doing is life changing.
TBB: Taking on the food industry and lawmakers has attracted many vocal critics of your campaigns. What motivates you to keep going?
VH: Food is an emotional topic and it can be polarizing. People don’t always want to hear that the food they have been eating contains a controversial ingredient or possibly been damaging their health and this can lead to resistance. Many critics that speak out frequently against my ideas are ones that either support the chemical companies and food companies or are critical of natural therapies in general. It is my job to tell the truth and I leave it up to the consumer to choose how they react and what they do with that information. I’m intensely passionate and won’t stop until everybody has access to safe and affordable food and knows exactly what is in their food. This is a movement about transparency in the food system. Everyone deserves to know exactly what they are eating and my job will not be done until we all have this information.
TBB: Since writing the book have you learned anything that you wish you could add to the book?
VH: Well, yes. I recently learned that Heineken USA is removing caramel coloring from Newcastle Brown Ale, after I had been campaigning for nearly two years for them to do so. In The Food Babe Way chapter about alcohol, I catalogue several beers and what they contain. As Heineken is removing caramel coloring from Newcastle, I will be making an update in the next printing of my book to include this wonderful new information. Although I’m thrilled with this news, I still hope that Heineken will completely come around and agree to label all of their ingredients. Ingredients should be publicly available for anyone that wants to know exactly what they’re drinking – even if it’s alcohol.
TBB: You seem like such a strong woman. Did you grow up with strong women role models?
VH: I owe it all to my parents. They taught me to never take no for an answer and to stand by my beliefs, which has made me the person I am today…