Throughout time, successful leaders have demonstrated an undeniable appetite to learn and lead others. So naturally, when it came to writing another article on Leaders and Development, I wanted to look at one area that is rarely if it all ever discussed…

Their actually appetite or to be more specific – being a vegan.

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure vegan leadership was a real thing outside of my interest of clean eating and developing leaders. What I was looking for was the connectivity between success, successful leaders (in life) and what they eat. What I found is in this article.

Being a vegan brings with it a whole slew of commentary and confusion around: what it is, why people choose it and what’s possible from adopting a vegan lifestyle. Here’s what I uncovered:

  • The common misconceptions of being vegan
  • The benefits of eating vegan
  • Foods that can boost your leadership

Eight years ago, I decided to change my eating habits and adopt a clean(er) eating mindset. Since then my overall health and wellness has soared to new heights. I have grown to both appreciate and understand what organic and raw living can do for your life both in and out of the workplace. Along the way, I’ve probably made over 2,500 green juices and have heard just as many jokes about doing it. Although labeling people is never a good thing, just for today – we are going to remove labels as it pertains to food and discover the vegan leader.

Vegan, Vegetarian, Raw & Paleo

I am incredibly fortunate to be married to a registered and certified holistic nutritionist who along the way has helped explain and define many of the confusing claims that exist so in the spirit of paying it forward, below is a breakdown of what you need to know. I realize there is a lot of (mis)information out there so I thought creating a comparison chart would be the easiest to follow. The same information below can be found here.

The last thing I want to include here are three popular terms that readily gets confused and misplaced when speaking to others about food, diet and overall nutrition and that is:

  • plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetableswhole grainslegumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products. Ideally, the plant-based diet is a vegan diet with a bit of flexibility in the transitional phases, with the goal of becoming 100 percent plant-based over time.
  • Raw vegan: This is a vegan diet that is uncooked and often includes dehydrated foods.
  • Flexitarian: Yes this is a real word. This plant-based diet includes the occasional consumption of meat or fish.

The Benefits Of A Vegan Lifestyle

The benefits to a vegan lifestyle are plenty but let’s pull back a second and simply recognize the importance of a healthy diet in the first place. It’s commonly recognized that what you eat impacts your mood which in return will impact your thoughts and subsequent actions. In the case of respective leaders regardless of what industry, this couldn’t be more important – with the amount of critical and strategic thinking that has to take place daily and sometimes at a moment’s notice, skimping on nutrition is something not advised.

There are probably too many benefits to name from a plant-based vegan diet but it’s most notably considered to reduce the risk of the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Prostate and Colon cancer

Vegan diets on a whole can be a healthy option for anyone of any age assuming they first speak with their doctor. The key is that vegans (as well as people on other specialized diets) need to pay close attention to their food intake to avoid specific nutrient deficiencies.

The Connection: Food and Leadership

The connectivity to what you put in your body and how it performs has been studied for decades. As well all know, leadership doesn’t stop in the workplace but carries over into our personal lives but also into other arenas – literally and figuratively.

Here are some vegan athletes you may know who have done quite well for themselves:

There a few good articles out there regarding the connection of food and leadership but the one I enjoyed reading the most came from the Harvard Business Review. It goes on to say that:

No, it’s not awareness we need—it’s an action plan that makes healthy eating easier to accomplish

Whether you wish to explore being a vegan or not, the article goes on to lay out some sound strategies that anyone can adopt.

  • TIP ONE: Make your eating decisions before you get hungry. Studies show we’re a lot better at resisting salt, calories, and fat in the future than we are in the present.
  • TIP TWO: Instead of letting your glucose bottom out around lunch time, you’ll perform better by grazing throughout the day. Spikes and drops in blood sugar are both bad for productivity and bad for the brain. Smaller, more frequent meals maintain your glucose at a more consistent level than relying on a midday feast.
  • TIP THREE: Make healthy snacking easier to achieve than unhealthy snacking. Place a container of almonds and a selection of protein bars by your computer, near your line of vision. Use an automated subscription service, like Amazon, to restock supplies. Bring a bag of fruit to the office on Mondays so that you have them available throughout the week.

The article discussed how through one study, participants reported their food consumption, mood, and behaviors over a period of 13 days of eating fruits and veggies to be happier, more engaged, and more creative.

Final thoughts: If you are vegan, then I invite you to check out this networking site for vegan professionals Yes, you heard me correct – it’s exactly that. It’s filled with some great resources and what appears to be a respectable group of individuals from Fortune 500 companies around the world. If you’re considering shifting your eating habits and methodology, before you go off and buying that Groupon Juice Cleanse – speak with your doctor first to see if moving to a specialized type of diet is right for you. Playing a sport (like the athletes I mentioned) can be fun but playing with your health can be risky. Avoid the trends and speak to a professional first.

The floor is yours: How does diet impact your performance?

Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.

With leadership,

Joshua /

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