Frank - If you really want to know if something’s healthy or not, experiment on yourself

Frank makes it possible for more of us to consume consciously by promoting a plant-based diet through Pure & Whole, a plant-based restaurant in Shanghai.

Where are you from?   

Munich, Germany. 

What brought you to Shanghai?

I was working for Siemens when I first moved to Shanghai.

What does sustainability mean to you?

To preserve this planet and its natural beauty for future generations.

What are you passionate about?

Food, fitness & spirituality.

How do you do to consume consciously?

I always wear the same clothes and I bring my own bag when I go to the bakery. I’m very aware of what I eat and I’m aware of the impact it has on myself and the planet. I also use eco-friendly cleaning products.

What else could you do to consume more consciously?

I create a lot of plastic waste every week, so I could reduce that. I could eat completely vegan, but it’s not easy. I eat whatever I want at the moment. All the movies I watch probably isn’t part of what I do to consume consciously.

When did you become environmentally conscious?

I now know the impact I have on my environment, I know about the issues with food, fashion, packaging in general. It wasn’t all an epiphany for me, it all happened gradually. I first became a vegetarian 10 years ago when I started to do yoga. A yoga teacher explained the impact food has on your health to me. It probably really started when I started Pure & Whole. My sponsor at the time suggested that I start a vegetarian delivery service. I thought it was a good idea. While doing research for the restaurant I started to realise how big an impact food has on the environment.

After that got into fitness. I found out about athletes like Rich Roll, who follows a plant-based diet. He has a really good podcast that’s not just about veganism but about unlocking your best self. I got inspired by his book and I started training for Ironman. I did Ironman while following a vegan diet. Since then I’ve learnt a lot about other areas like fashion.

How would more people becoming conscious of their consumption change the world?

If people became more conscious of their consumption they would almost go vegan. They would buy high quality, timeless clothes, but there’s a lot standing in the way of that.

The biggest thing that needs to happen is that people need to find themselves, their core. They have to get self-aware and figure out that status and buying things that please your ego, isn’t a road to happiness. Instant gratification, meat for taste, the fastest, newest car all these things don’t automatically make you happy. Some things are convenient, but for the most part, I think people buy these things because of status and because they think it will make them happy. I don’t see people in harmony with themselves, people aren’t balanced. It’s rare to see someone make that spiritual shift. We’re not taught these things. We never ask ourselves questions about who we are and about our own happiness.

I realised that being in service makes me happy. Doing something for the greater good is a good way to feel good about myself and get out of my own head. I think that’s happening for a lot of people. If you care about something bigger than yourself you care about the environment. It has thousands of forms. Some people care about their community at first and that leads them to care about other things outside of themselves. People care about different things.

What’s the easiest part of consuming consciously?

Riding my bike rather than taking a bus or a taxi is easy. Choosing a plant-based meal is easy at times. Writing every morning, meditating and self-discovery are easy.

What’s the hardest part of consuming consciously?  

Sticking to a vegan diet is very hard. I sometimes use food to control my emotions and eating meat does give me a numbness I’m looking for sometimes.

What are your top 3 practical changes?

  • Get up half an hour early, take a notebook and write down your thoughts. Just get the stories you tell yourself out of your head. Read something, write and meditate for 5 minutes. It’s a great way to get more freedom in your life. 
  • Increase the number of plants you eat, add a side dish, maybe go a step further and give a couple of vegan or vegetarian restaurants a try. I think a green smoothie in the morning is a great way to start the day and it’s good for your body.
  • Watch a documentary or read a book to educate yourself about the food you eat.

What are the biggest challenges we face today in the food industry?

People are so far removed from what’s actually happening to the animals, the biggest challenge is showing people what’s really happening to their food. Figuring out the truth about food is nearly impossible. Knowing about the fertilisers used to grow crops, the food animals eat and what they’re injected with is a huge challenge. Another challenge is to actually know what’s healthy. There’s so much advertising and lobbies preventing people from figuring out the truth, it’s nearly impossible to really know.

If the whole world was listening, what would you say?

If you really want to know if something’s healthy or not, experiment on yourself. Take dairy out of your diet for two weeks and see if you feel any better. Then try meat, see if it makes you feel stronger. Go down to a really clean plant-based diet. At least once in your life give it a fair try.

What do you do?

I’m a partner at Pure and Whole.