David grew up with compassion and empathy instilled in him as core values. “22 years ago, when I individually made the change to become vegetarian, that was just one step. A much bigger realization came with the macro picture: with the global population, climate change, sustainability, pollution and greenhouse gases, not to mention factory farming. As with many in this space, I came to the same conclusion – a change at scale needs to happen.”
Some chip in through activism or changing laws; for David, it had to be through food: “Different foods are something we have an emotional and cultural attachment to. It’s not about telling people to stop eating meat because of what data shows; we need to provide them with a range of solutions.” For David, the way to tackle climate change and food insecurity is through baby steps. As baby as one plant-based meal a week on your dinner table, which is what his platform Green Monday is all about. Or saying that if you go plant-based for one year, that’s 400 lives saved and 2.1 tons of CO2 emissions prevented.
“And at OmniFoods, we aim to provide delicious, nutritious, plant-based options to put on the dinner table so that people can facilitate their change.” Being ranked 8th on Fortune’s list of the 20 Most Socially Impactful Companies in China, and the only food company on the list, Green Monday provides a platform and a movement, as well as a concept store, ventures, school network, and corporate solutions. With numerous speeches and books about zen and mindfulness under his belt, on top of building a successful company, how does David take care of his mental health? “To hopefully create a long lasting, successful enterprise is a difficult task. Especially in today’s world, which is so ever-changing and extremely unpredictable. And so I do have one habit – meditation. Ideally, the longer or the more consistent, the better, but sometimes really, even to take half a minute or take three deep breaths.”
It came to him in second or third grade, he recalls: “There was that one time where I got pretty bad test scores – I remember being so mad at myself, not just because I didn’t get a good score, but because I did not give it my best.” That feeling really stuck with him.
Even though things don’t always go as planned, and disappointment and failure are a part of life, it’s important for David to always know that at the moment, he was giving his best in terms of his thoughts and efforts. “If it turns out not to be what we hope for, I won’t beat myself up – I learn from it, and move on.” This reframe is tightly connected to a message he’d send back to his 20-year-old self: “If we even want a chance to achieve any type of success, chances are, we will fail a lot. So just make sure you know the distinction, that failing at certain things doesn’t mean you as a person are a failure. You fail one semester at school, lose a job or even a company. Yes, of course you’re not happy—but make sure you know that life is a long journey.
More about David
“My family. Spending time with my family, my two daughters, and my wife, those are the most blessed moments in my life.”
Because of what I’m doing with Green Monday, I regularly speak in front of a lot of people. But at home, sometimes I can just be very quiet and I can go on for hours without making any sound, or speaking at all. I present so much with my work, but really, at home, I listen to my three bosses.
This lifetime, next lifetime… I hope I will continue to be in the position to give and to bring positive change to others and the world.