Doug Evans of Organic Avenue & Juicero: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing
Turn off your phone at night, place it on another room and get a standard old-style alarm clock.The phone is so addictive and the screen will make it harder to go to sleep. Most people set the iPhone alarm to wake up in the morning. I set it for what time to go to sleep and turn it off. This way there is no 3 a.m. checking how many likes or comments you got on an Instagram post. Another benefit of turning off your phone is that it will extend the battery of your device.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Doug Evans.
Doug Evans has been a pioneer in the plant-based health movement for over twenty years, he was the co-founder of Organic Avenue and founder of Juicero. He has been channeling the power of sprouts and his transformative plans into The Sprout Book and advising tens of thousands of people on the ancient wisdom of sprouts as a food source. Currently living in the California desert, he is sprouting daily, growing a majority of his food in his own countertop garden. He is creating a radical shift in wellness through his discussion of growing sprouts and their healing benefits. This nutritious revolution is accessible, affordable, and can be done in anywhere from luxury kitchens to camper vans. Evans encourages others to achieve their greatest health potential by taking control of how and what they are consuming.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
My first exposure to fitness was joining the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division when I was 17 years old. Boot camp is not fun, but the hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups, the running, jumping, and climbing took me from a junk food–eating teenager to a young man in incredible physical condition.
My first exposure to wellness was in 1999 when I randomly attended a meeting at the Big Apple Vegetarian Society. The topic was diet, with people representing vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan diets.
After that meeting, I began obsessively researching different diets and lifestyles and landed on eating fresh, ripe, raw, organic fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, seaweed and sprouts. Your tribe defines your vibe. My new tribe resulted in me cancelling my gym membership and joining a yoga studio.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
After decades of living and working in NY, LA and San Francisco, I decided to move to the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree. What I realized in the first 24 hours was that I was in a food desert too. All the comforts and conveniences of urban life were gone. No vegan restaurants, no Whole Foods and practically no deliveries of any kind. I asked myself, What am I going to eat? After thinking about it for a while, the answer seemed so obvious: sprouts. I ordered some seeds and started to sprout, and within 30 days about half of my calories were coming from sprouts that I was growing in 1 cubic foot of my countertop. Sprouts and The Sprout Book have been my focus for the past 2½ years, sparking a global sprouting revolution.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
It’s funny now, but didn’t feel funny then. I met an investor at a conference, he gave me his card and we scheduled a phone call. I called at the precise time and his assistant told me he was on another call. I called back 5 minutes later and then 10 minutes later and his assistant told me the same thing. That time I asked his assistant to slip him a note to let him know that I was going to hold. He came on the phone and yelled at me never to call him again. I think the lesson is self-explanatory.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I watched my immediate family — my aunts, uncles and parents — die of chronic illnesses that I determined were all lifestyle related. I shifted my career from graphic design and computer graphics to wellness and co-founded Organic Avenue in 2002. Back then raw vegan was virtually unknown, and we developed a website and call center and opened up 10 retail stores in NYC. We had dozens of chefs developing nutritious and easy to package meals. We kept outgrowing our production kitchen and continued to develop new processes and procedures that allowed us to scale. We had nutritionists work to balance the meals, scientists to ensure safety protocols and lawyers to vet the packaging and labeling. We ultimately served well over 1 million items and helped launch a movement.
Over the last 20 years I have worked with and interviewed dozens of top medical doctors, scientists and nutritionists on how to make it easier to eat and incorporate more plants and more sprouts into your diet, a number of whom appear in The Sprout Book.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I met Denise Mari in NYC while I was still eating processed foods and animal products. Denise was a vegan and I didn’t know the difference between vegan and vegetarian. She shared many stories from her own personal life that have helped shape the last 20 years of my career. Her intuition and aesthetic were guideposts, and partnering with her brought elements of the divine feminine into my view of the world. We are still close friends today.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Food is probably the number one addiction in the world. You don’t have to smoke, drink, gamble or watch pornography to survive, but you have to eat. Major food companies know this, and it’s almost impossible to avoid the constant advertising and promotion of processed food. Furthermore, food engineers know how to make the food even more addictive by adding MSG, refined sugars, salts and oils to make them almost irresistible.
Family and friends. So much emphasis is put on food as family history, which makes it harder to eat healthy food at family gatherings and celebrations.
The pace of society has made everyone move faster. As a result, simple things like walking in nature, exercising and other physical activities become secondary to being on the phone, on the computer or working. It takes a very concerted effort to put wellness first.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Growing your own sprouts. It’s easy, inexpensive and fast and everyone can do it. I recently visited a friend who read my Sprout Book a few months ago and they started a sprout garden using 3 large mason jars. The whole family including the kids gets in on it.
- Eating unseasoned vegetables first. As far as I know, no one eats sprouts and veggies for dessert, so if you are going to make sure you eat them, you need to eat them before you eat your other food. I remember when I first began this healthy lifestyle, I would go to the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC and buy all these beautiful local organic greens, but when dinnertime came, I was eating coconut cacao smoothies, fresh fruits and nuts and the greens would wilt and have to be tossed into the compost. After wasting more money than I can remember, I decided to plan my meals around salads and veggies first.
- Eat plain food (like raw veggies),and eat it when you are hungry, not around the three meals a day schedule. At first it was way easier for me eat french fries or even sauteed broccoli with garlic, oil and salt than it was to eat raw or even steamed broccoli. I never knew when to stop. Eating three meals based on heavily seasoned and processed food has contributed to the current chronic health crisis.
- Turn off your phone at night, place it on another room and get a standard old-style alarm clock.The phone is so addictive and the screen will make it harder to go to sleep. Most people set the iPhone alarm to wake up in the morning. I set it for what time to go to sleep and turn it off. This way there is no 3 a.m. checking how many likes or comments you got on an Instagram post. Another benefit of turning off your phone is that it will extend the battery of your device.
- Get a standup desk or even better a treadmill desk. When I was doing research for The Sprout Book, I found myself sitting with my laptop in the most uncomfortable positions on the couch or at the kitchen table, slouching, hunching over, forgetting about posture. Then I heard someone say that sitting was the new smoking and it resonated with me. I immediately moved my laptop to a higher countertop and started to stand and type. It was much harder at first but much better in the long run.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
Exercise gives you more energy to conquer other tasks.
Exercise is really good for goal setting and feeling accomplished.
Exercise makes you feel strong and flexible and builds confidence.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
I really appreciate yoga for strength building and flexibility. Simply doing sun salutations is a great daily exercise.
I love planks. They start off being very hard and then become easier. They’re really good for core strength.
I also love squats with no weight. Just up and down, up and down. I used to need a wall or chair to balance, but now it’s easy.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Moby Dick, Herman Melville. The obsession and commitment permanently moved me.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
My movement is sprouting. Sprouting has been around since the beginning of time and the movement is growing as we speak. Sprouts can be grown anywhere, in good times, when money is tight, or during a pandemic when food security is threatened. Sprouts have the potential to feed the world, enabling us to eat locally in any season and increasing the reach of real food in food deserts for millions of people. Sprouting takes us back to the seed with an invitation to achieve our greatest health potential.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Life is difficult, and once you accept that life is difficult, it’s no longer difficult. Almost everything I have done seemed difficult at first, like writing a book. Signing a contract to write 60,000 words was very daunting. But once I took on that challenge, I wouldn’t quit until it was done.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
I love Jim Carrey. He’s the real deal and I feel like we’re kindred spirits. kindred spirit with him.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
@dougevans on Instagram
@iamdougevans on Twitter
Sign up for my newsletter at www.thesproutbook.com