“Move Over, McDonald’s!” A Conversation with Jeffrey Harris from Plant Power Fast Food

Vegan “McDonald’s” Plant Power Restaurant

We’d like to invite you to a brilliant and hilarious conversation with Jeffrey Harris, the co-founder of Plant Power Fast Food (the Vegan “McDonald’s”).

Jeffrey Harris is the Co-Founder, Co-Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Plant Power Fast Food also sometimes called the Vegan “McDonald’s”. He and his partners Mitch Wallis and Zach Vouga opened their first restaurant in San Diego, CA in 2016. Currently, the company is expanding exponentially to open its first restaurants outside of Southern California. 

Vegan “McDonald’s” Mcdonalds
Vegan “McDonald’s”

Check out some behind-the-scenes shots from our recent vKind Vibes shoot with Jeffrey Harris, co-founder of Plant Power Fast Food! 

Join our conversation with Jeffrey Harris.

vKind

Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of vKind Connects, your connection to all things vegan. I am so excited to introduce you today to one of our favorite people. He’s hilarious, down to earth, and so so pivotal in what’s happening in the vegan movement right now. We’d like to introduce you to Jeffrey Harris, the co-founder of Plant Power Fast Food. Welcome, Jeffrey.

Jeffrey

Michon, thank you so much. It’s great to be here with you today, and I’m just grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know you recently, also, and what you’re doing. So it’s just an honor to be able to make some time and have this conversation.

vKind

Thank you. Thank you so much. So let’s go ahead and dive in. And the first thing that we’ve been really dying to know and having a lot of people ask us, as soon as they heard that we were going to be having a conversation with you, is — you know, tell us your story. What prompted you to create Plant Power Fast Food? Why are you doing this? What was your inspiration?

Jeffrey

Thank you. It’s a great question because I think that the intention or the inspiration behind anything that we do in life has everything to do with the outcome and our experience doing it. I won’t give you the whole long story, you know, but I will say that I became a vegetarian at the age of 14. I became painfully aware of the fact that I was actually eating animals, and it was a shock to me that nobody else around me seemed to notice that.

So long before it was cool, and back when the doctor said you’re probably going to die, I stopped eating animals. And about 20 years later, motivated by the same ethical concerns, I became fully vegan. I realized, yes, you actually do kill the cow for the milk and the chicken for the eggs. It’s not like you see in the commercials.

That’s just been a huge part of my life and my being and just realizing the importance of not contributing to more suffering. And then, of course, as much as I could alleviate suffering, you know, rescuing animals when I could, and things like that.

Then later in life, when I was in I think my about mid-40s, I had established myself with a nice career in the professional audio industry and was making a little bit of a living, which I’d never really thought that I would, kind of being an old hippie.

And I asked myself a really big question, and that was, what do I want to be when I grow up? And for some reason, this concept of what I like to call the vegan McDonald’s just kept coming up. And I just thought — because I had tried to start a restaurant years earlier. I was too young, I had a partner, we were not very experienced. We were struggling to raise any money. And it was basically like a — this was before I was vegan — kind of a hippie, veggie restaurant with a spiritual bookstore and acoustic music.

That was the concept. But later in life in my 40s, I was thinking, well, I should really do something that can scale and that could take millions and millions of animals off the plate and that would maybe have an impact on our culture and our society.

This idea of turning fast food on its head came up and it wouldn’t leave me alone. And I would jokingly call it the vegan version of McDonald’s.

I would talk to friends and say, I’m going to do vegan fast food. And most of them who were smart would say, you’re crazy, man. Nobody’s going to eat your friggin veggie burgers. I’m only saying friggin because we’re on video and being recorded, but the idea wouldn’t leave me. And I knew that although I had worked in veggie restaurants, that they — before the vegan restaurants happened, there were vegetarian restaurants.

I had been a waiter, a busboy, a host, and I’d done all that stuff and loved that. But I had never really been an entrepreneur and didn’t know what it was like to sign a lease or hire employees or design a kitchen or a menu. I really didn’t have those chops.

So I went on a quest to see if there was one other crazy person on the planet who had the same vision, but who had this operational expertise that I didn’t have, who had that operations and restaurant experience in a deeper way than I did.

And after years of searching, a friend of mine called me one day. Her name is Susan. And she said, I found your guy, and his name is Mitch Wallace, and he’s at Evolution Fast Food in San Diego. And I called Mitch and within a few minutes, I just went, oh my God, I love this guy. I started working with him and a partner that he had at the time.

But my experience with Mitch’s partner just wasn’t gelling. And after about six months, I kind of walked away. And Mitch called me back and said, I want you to meet Zach Vouga.

At the time, Zach was probably 24 or 25 years old. And he had kind of risen through the ranks at Mitch’s restaurant and had become a great leader and a great operator. And in 2014, the three of us started plotting our diabolical overthrow of the meat-based fast food restaurant industry by meeting in the back of Mitch’s restaurant in the little patio back there.

And it was a very, very exciting time. And — but Mitch, being the entrepreneur who was fearless, said, okay, well, let’s go get a lease. You know, this was before we raised money. I don’t even think we had a bank account. But we had signed a little partnership agreement with each other, and then Mitch found this amazing place in Ocean Beach, California, which is the crunchy granola part of San Diego. And we started raising money.

And lo and behold, in January of 2016, the first Plant Power Fast Food opened to the public and it went well. People were flowing in.

This little crazy idea seemed to have legs. And so that’s the short story, believe it or not, of the beginning of our adventure. And we’ve grown quite a bit since then, but having that first unit succeed and turning people on to vegan fast food and knowing that it works was really the beginning of everything that was to follow.

vKind

That’s so cool. And I love hearing the origins because sometimes we’ll run into something, especially a business that’s open and be like, wow, that was like super successful. We just had the best idea and it took off and it blew up. And you don’t think about all the work and time and energy and relationships that go into building something that has legs, that’s going to have a solid foundation.

Jeffrey

And, the persistence! All these scary moments that come up before it happens and trying to raise the money and — oh, yeah. It’s like, you know, musical bands that become overnight hits? Well, they’ve probably been working on this for 10 years or something.

vKind

Oh, yeah. Yeah, totally. It’s like you don’t see everything from behind. And I guess one of the questions I have is, what has surprised you most about opening a 100% vegan fast-food chain? What’s been your biggest like, huh, I didn’t see that one coming?

Jeffrey

Wow, that’s a great question. So I’ll answer the question you didn’t ask first. And Mitch and Zach and I did believe that the world was ready for that. We really, really did. So we weren’t surprised. In our hearts of hearts, we were all vegans. We wanted to save animals.

We knew in our gut that the world was ready for this thing. So we weren’t surprised by that. But I think the big aha moment was — and I hate to be too businessy here. But when you look in the restaurant industry, we have a thing called AUVs, average unit velocity. Topline sales, right?

And what surprised me was that our top-line sales — our average unit is more than Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr, Arby’s, Wendy’s — not quite McDonald’s, not quite In-N-Out, but we’re way up there in terms of how much volume our restaurants do.

I give a ton of credit to my partners, who are brilliant operators, and our team because they are all like shamans of the heart, right? They’re just amazing.

However, I think that that spoke to this unmet need on the part of consumers for something better, something more aspirational, something more sustainable. Because remember, there are not that many vegans out there yet, right? I mean, in my Facebook feed there seems to be billions of them, but in the outside world, most of our customers are omnivores.

They’re veggie-curious. And so the huge surprise to us, or at least to me, was to see that this had more legs than we thought. We knew we would do well, but I think that the response from the public confirmed our deep suspicion that deep down inside there are a lot of people that would prefer to eat this way had they had the option, but they don’t want to come out as vegan.

They don’t want to identify as vegan. And so I think we tapped into something, and that was a good surprise.

vKind

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And absolutely, it’s like going out there with the intention of I have this belief that people will come forward, that everybody has this intrinsic drive to be in alignment with their ethics and values and morals. But sometimes it doesn’t always jive with the titles given or the labels that are associated.

Jeffrey

I think especially for a lot of guys, it’s kind of not macho. So I think there’s a lot of men that don’t want to identify culturally as a vegan. Some words in our culture are bad now, like feminism or liberal.

I don’t know when they went dark because I think these are great words. But if you give people an option and they don’t have to sign up on the vegan channel, they don’t need to sign a vegan list. You’re not going to throw a PETA brochure at them. And I love PETA, right?

But you just give them the option and you make it easy. A surprising amount of people, I think, are responding to deeper, higher aspirational urgings and maybe even are aware that eating animals isn’t cool even though they would never speak to it.

vKind

Yeah, completely. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for creating an opportunity for individuals to do that because I think meeting people where they’re at is key in having a healthy transition.

So that being said, I’m very curious because I know what my and my family’s favorites are, but what would you say your most popular menu item is? What’s bringing people in?

Jeffrey

It changes all the time, but I’d say the Big Zac, which is like the Big Mac and named after my co-founder, Zack Vouga. And it’s a huge hit. So our burgers are our biggest sellers, followed by our wraps and sandwiches, but the Big Zac is kind of on the top of the list. And I have to say that I was a McDonald’s kid.

Before I became vegan, I remember the Big Mac and the Quarter Pounder. And then when I was 14, I would go into McDonald’s and say, I’ll take the cheeseburger, please. Double cheese. Hold the burger. And I remember — it’s funny, when I tried the Big Zac for the first time, it totally brought back that flood of McDonald’s Big Mac memories, which were apparently hiding in my neuron synapses someplace in the back of my brain.

That’s a huge one. Bacon cheeseburgers — huge, but they’re all pretty popular. Lately, I’ve been like — my favorite lately has been the cheeseburger, add avocado, gluten-free bun. That’s my little favorite lately. I go back and forth.

vKind

We’ll have to try that. We’ll have to try that. I love that you refer to it as kind of this concept of like, I have this vision of vegan McDonald’s because that was — you know, I’ve been vegan for over a decade. And the same thing happened here. It sounds silly when I look back at it. But when we found Plant Power Fast Food, we were visiting California, and I saw that you had a breakfast sandwich, like the McDonald’s legit breakfast with the hashbrowns. And I got so giddy looking at the menu. And then going to your location, I was at the one in Encinitas, and going through the drive-through and getting the sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich with a hash brown —

Jeffrey

Oh my God, seriously. I know.

vKind

I was literally in — like, it was like tears. It sounds so — I’m like, why am I so excited about a breakfast sandwich? But it really was. It was something subconsciously.

Jeffrey

Because it wasn’t for us. I mean, for so many years as a vegan I’d drive past every day. 

You know, with countless fast-food restaurants. And it’s like not for me, right? And thank you for sharing that. That’s the cool part about it because we could have been a hippie brown rice, tofu, and broccoli restaurant, which is where I’d probably rather go, right?

That’s the way I eat, but we wanted to make this fun for everybody: the vegans, the veggies, the omnivores. And can I share a quick story with you? 

Yeah, years ago — well, not that long ago. We were getting new headshots because we were doing our series A capital raise and updating our pitch deck, and we had to get more honest headshots, more current headshots.

I remember I was driving down to go to the photography studio in San Diego, going through Encinitas on my way, and I swear I had this thought, I wish there was a place where I could stop and get some — like a vegan fast food breakfast or something. I literally thought that. And then I thought, wait a minute, you built one of those. And I turned off, and it was the first time that I had actually driven through, as a customer, the drive-through at Plant Power Encinitas. They didn’t know who I was when I pulled up, and by the time I picked up the food, they kind of figured it out.

But I had that customer experience of being a vegan going through a drive-through getting a breakfast thing. I think I got the sausage, egg, and cheese bagel or something and I was ecstatic. And it was just funny that I was having that experience as a customer and that my own dreams as a vegan were being answered.

vKind

That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that because it’s about — it’s the little things that you don’t realize you miss. It’s the convenience factor. And we — you know, it’s this whole thing of like, yes, I’m kind of a hippie vegan. Yes, I’m in the vegan Birkenstocks and pretty crunchy. But at the same time, I love a milkshake and cheeseburger, and it’s like having that comfort food. So absolutely. And I guess that brings me to the next question: do you have any news about Plant Power Fast Food that you’d like to share with our viewers or anything coming up that’s exciting you that we could know?

Jeffrey

Yeah, I can share a little bit. I can share. So you know, I will share this, all right. We started in 2016 with this one restaurant, right? Within about three weeks we will have 10 restaurants and a food truck, which for us is like, wow, this is amazing. And we’ve got about five more restaurants in development, maybe four, actually. And then a bunch more with franchisees who are planning to develop.

Probably by midway through 2022 we think we’ll be at 14 or 15 restaurants and a food truck, and that’s unbelievably exciting. And that’s incredible. Here’s the good news. It’s taken a while for the world to kind of catch up with what we want to do, you know?

I’ve been the guy hustling investment for a long time and telling people about the dream. And a lot of the money that’s been chasing the plant-based megatrend has been kind of stuck in CPGs, or consumer packaged goods.

Everybody wants the next Beyond Meat, obviously. And I think the tide is beginning to change a little bit, not only for Plant Power, but I believe that capital, which in our current world is the engine of industry — the way our world is organized right now — is finally starting to glimpse the possibility of some real contenders for a place in the 100% plant-based space.

And as a result of that development, we believe that we may be able to accelerate more quickly than we had planned before. So even though we’ve been saying vegan McDonald’s — by the way, I hear that some of our young revolutionary vegan employees don’t love that because that just does not appeal to them.

It’s something that makes sense when we’re talking to business people, right? The vegan McDonald’s. But what I think is going to happen now is that our ability to accelerate more quickly than we have before is arising.

And that’s for two reasons. One, I think that people that have the funding are beginning to understand the vision and look at the economics. So that’s helpful. But number two, the engine of this thing, which is the people, has been evolving and in an extraordinarily beautiful way.

And we now have team members who have been with us since the very beginning when we opened up in 2016, but we’ve also brought in some really high-level people to help us. Our director of operations is from Chipotle, kind of a big deal there.

Our new restaurant opening manager is from Yum! Brands and Hard Rock Cafe. Our CFO used to work for the largest Hardee’s franchisee in the US, and so on, and so on, and so on. And so what’s been evolving is our ability to execute because we’ve been bringing in extraordinarily talented people. And that moment is meeting this place in time where the people that have the ability to make investments are beginning to see the validity of our vision.

So the thing I can’t share but will share, is that I think that we’re going to continue to grow. And if we execute well and if we continue to build a culture based on love and acceptance, and if we stay true to our intentions and the mission, I think Plant Power Fast Food has a really brilliant feature, as do other similar vegan businesses.

We want to leave our mark on the world and impact culture. But I see other great brands doing that as well. And we welcome them to this revolution. So it’s — you know, Plant Power is part of something bigger. And the wave that we’re all riding on right now is rising. And so it’s an exciting time.

vKind

Oh, it absolutely is. And the whole piece around competition, it’s like, no, there’s enough out there for everyone. And the more you can get in this space is pivotal and it’s needed. 

Jeffrey

We have to check our own consciousness about it, right? I mean, we have gotten nervous. Like when Carl’s Jr. came out with their Beyond Burger and Impossible. And then we’ve seen some great competitors arise. It’s natural for us to be a little scared, but we are making a concerted effort to change that kind of consciousness.

Let’s be excellent. Let’s be great at what we are great at. And I’ve been looking at the competition, and I love them. They’re fabulous. And I know many of them. And I want them to have their dream succeed as well. And there’s room.

When McDonald’s first came out, everyone thought, well, that’s it. But now you’ve got all these other brands. They figured something out, you know?

Fast food, consistent taste, and then everyone else jumped in. The world’s changing. And there’ll be room for a lot of people in this segment.

vKind

Yes, absolutely. And that’s such an important piece to remember. And I love the fact that it’s really about the conscious — it’s like conscious capitalism, really. It’s like, that’s the world that’s supporting the vegeconomy. It’s like, have your dollars spent where you know they’re supporting something that is in alignment with who you are and your values and your ethics and your morals and everything that matters to you as a core.

Jeffrey

Beautiful.

vKind

Thank you. And I’m wondering because I know when we had spoken before, you shared that you have a few goals for Plant Power Fast Food. And I would love to have those shared with our audience because I think it’s so incredible to know, like what’s the baseline? What is the mission and vision of this, especially for our entrepreneurs who are watching, our business owners? What’s driving you? What keeps you going when it gets hard?

Jeffrey

Great question. Well, thank you. That’s a really beautiful question. And when we first started this endeavor together, the three partners realized that they were aligned on what for us personally was the most important goal, right? Mitch — I’m going to say their names because these guys are geniuses and they make me look good, which is never easy.

Mitch Wallace and Zack Vouga, who are my amazing inspired partners and geniuses. And the three of us were and are ethical vegans. So our first and foremost mission was to take animals off the plate.

We see beneath the surface of our society is animal suffering. No one really notices. You drive down the street, you’ll pass 10, 15, 20 restaurants, 7-Elevens.

Everywhere you go there’s carcasses and animal products, and behind that is suffering that’s actually unimaginable. It just — I’m not going to — I won’t go there for 20 minutes, but if you stop and think about it, it’s not cool.

So our first and foremost concern was let’s get animals off the plates. Let’s wake people up, right?

There are two ways to do that. One is you wake people up by serving them beautiful vegan food with love and letting them figure it out. But the other thing that happens is when someone who’s not a vegan changes out that meat-based meal for a plant-based meal. You’re taking an animal off the plate at that moment or at least a small piece of one.

So number one has always been about the animals.

Number two is — in recent years, old hippie hardcore vegans like myself, along with everyone else, have realized that one of the leading causes of climate change and environmental degradation is the animal products industry and factory farming. It’s insane.

I never would have imagined years ago that it would be the leading cause of climate change. I would have voted for coal stacks, you know, coal power plants and cars. But amazingly, animal agriculture is the hugest contributor, deforestation, all of that. The planet — this is not sustainable. It’s just not.

One of the pillars of our mission is in reducing the consumption of animal products will also have an impact on the environment and have a more sustainable model for our planet. Number three is people’s health and wellness.

You and I, Michon, know that whole food organic salad with greens and legumes is probably a little bit better for you on a daily basis than a bacon cheeseburger. But the truth is, the consumption of animal products is the cause of many leading diseases. And we know this now.

Cardiovascular, stroke, diabetes, obesity, it goes on and on. And so health and wellness of our community — of our human community is key among our concerns as well. And I’ll say, as a quick story, I remember a friend of mine told me he went into one of our restaurants. And I think he had like a burger, fries, chicken tenders, and a shake, and walked out and he called me. He goes, “my God. I feel great. I don’t feel weighed down the way I usually do!”

And I was thinking, like, I can’t eat a meal like that anymore. I’m 61 years old, I’d go into a nap for three hours. But for this guy that eats animal products all day long, he walked out of that feeling good, making him think more about it.

The three pillars we started with were let’s save animals, like let’s help the environment, let’s give people a healthier alternative. And the fourth pillar, which has evolved in recent years, is building a culture based on the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Now it’s a big buzzword in the corporate boardroom these days. Everybody wants to say we’re DEI trained and certified and we care, but I think that we’ve always felt — of course we care.

We love our team. We want to pay them as much as we can. We hug it out. We say thank you. What I think a lot of us don’t realize is that there is a lot of trauma in our society. There are a lot of wounds underneath the surface. And those of us who may have grown up in some privilege don’t always see that.

People of color, women, people of different sexual orientations, there’s a lot of wounding and a lot of trauma here. And if you really want to build a good culture, you also have to consider that trauma and that wounding and be mindful of it and really try to build a culture that is inclusive and welcoming, and loving.

We’re really focused on that. We have more work to do. But all of our senior leaders have been trained, and we’re going to continue to try to push that envelope and create a beautiful work culture.

If we’re creating — you know, if we’re saving the cows but it’s a bummer to work at Plant Power, we’re not reducing suffering. And so what we’re constantly mindful of is how do we reduce suffering and increase joy in the world.

I know it sounds hippy. It’s like unicorns and rainbows. And I’m not saying we’re perfect at it either, but that’s what we want to do.

You know, we get up in the morning and we want to make the world a better place if we can. And often, we’re overwhelmed by a thousand things to do just to keep the business alive, but we try to remain mindful of those pillars.

vKind

Thank you, Jeffrey. And can I just say, I would like to, like, put you into a duplication machine and have little Jeffreys all over the place? Because it does sound kind of like unicorns and we’re skipping through a field of daisies singing Kumbaya.

Jeffrey

Yeah, I get it. I get it.

vKind

But at the same time, for sustainability in all factors and as a vegan, it’s about anti-oppression, anti-suffering at all levels. 

Jeffrey

Yes, absolutely!

vKind

How can we as consumers and/or investors or whoever’s watching this,  best support you and Plant Power Fast Food? Like, what would be the biggest support?

Jeffrey

Thank you, Michon. The truth is — God, this sounds like a commercial now, but — it really does. Go to Plant Power, buy food, and then go buy some more food, and then get some dessert. And then tell your friends. Actually, I think that — I don’t know the answer to that, right? So there may be investment opportunities in the future. There’s not an active round right now. And if there was, I might not be able to speak to it here.

People can always reach out to me to explore that opportunity, and I can make my email address available or you can on your site. But turn friends — I think of it less like how do I support Plant Power Fast Food, actually, and more how do I support a better world.

So one of the things that I did for years when I was in the audio industry in my last incarnation, I would take people out for meals at vegan places all the time. And I wasn’t preaching at them. I was just buying them lunch, dinner, breakfast.

So I would say go to Plant Power or your other leading vegan fast food place, bring your friends, buy them lunch, hug it out, live as an example. Tell your friends about Plant Power, of course.

But I think — I don’t know the answer to that question, but I think the answer is for everybody to keep turning the people on to the vegan lifestyle and doing it in a way that is digestible for people. Because you know, when I was a 14-year-old vegetarian, I was screaming at people that they were killing animals. And that’s cool, but that didn’t work that well.

And while animal activism is super important and I support it 1,000% and all of the cool things that people are doing to awaken others, one of the cool ways is to take people out for a vegan meal. It’s an interesting way. And just hang out. And so there you have it.

vKind

Thank you. I love that. And that’s actually — it’s really key. It’s like, again, meeting people where they’re at, right?

Jeffrey

I did forget people can send checks made out to Jeffrey Harris, and I’ll provide my address on the link below. 

vKind

LAUGHING – Perfect, we will put that in bold in the show notes. So thank you, Jeffrey.

Jeffrey

Every small contribution — every $100 per week really helps. 

vKind

Got it. Got it. I appreciate that. We’ll get right on that.

Jeffrey

Yeah, I’m a giver. I want everybody to participate, yeah. 

vKind

Thank you, Jeffrey, and I think your second incarnation after this one may be a comedian.

Jeffrey

I’m in!

vKind

I did have one question on a more personal level. If you hadn’t created and started Plant Power Fast Food, what would you be doing right now? 

Jeffrey

Wow, that’s a good question. Do you want me to get real? 

vKind

Of course.

Jeffrey

All right. Well, I had another career, which I am so grateful for. I was a sales manager in the professional audio industry. So I was working for a very big company supervising Salesforce, selling professional concert sound systems and recording systems and cool hippie — not hippie — cool, edgy musical technology. And I loved that. I really loved that with all my heart and I’m so grateful for it.

I learned a lot. I think the real answer is, if I wasn’t doing Plant Power Fast Food right now, I would be looking to lead a quieter life. I would actually be wanting to scale back and do more meditation and do more yoga. I’m getting older.

Plant Power is my passion and my dream, so I can do this thing for 15 hours a day without blinking. But if I wasn’t doing that, I think I would probably start to move towards a quieter life. So I don’t know if that’s a cool answer, but that’s probably just the truth.

I would also NAP at least nap once a week, for sure. I would definitely — I would nap.

vKind

Napping is so underrated. We should all be napping more. 

I know you’re doing Plant Power Fast Food 15 plus hours a day, it seems like. I see you doing this work because it is such a passion.

But I’m also curious, what are you reading or watching? Or what would you like to be reading or watching that’s on your nightstand that you want to get to someday?

Jeffrey

Oh, that’s great. Yeah, thank you. Well, first of all, let’s just call it — if we want to be accurate — 13 hours a day, right? 

Because 15 is the 2-hour exaggeration. You know, at the end of the day, my girlfriend and I would like to find some streaming series. Something that’s cool to take my head out of business for a little bit. So I will vedge out a little bit. But in terms of reading, I’m kind of strangely diverse. So you know, one of the things that interests me these days is what I would call love-based leadership or conscious leadership.

In other words, when you’re in the battle and it’s tough, how do you bring your heart into that? And it sounds easy, but it’s not sometimes, right?

Because that means I have to confront my own ego and all my own stuff. So I’ve been actually reading books in that area. One of the things that I’m just finishing up now is a book called Leaders Eat Last. And it’s kind of about leading from a point of view of integrity and service. And I’m really enjoying that.

I’m about to start a new one called the Amare Wave, A-M-A-R-E, Wave by Moshe Engelberg. And he’s all about how can business be reformatted in our culture and be based on love, not just on short-term gain.

And I’ve kind of sneaked into that even while I’m finishing the first one. And then the second part of your — to answer the second part of your question, it’s very boring, but I love reading Eastern philosophical books. I am a student of Buddhism. I also like reading about some of the Indian philosophies that we might call Vedanta or yoga philosophy.

And those things kind of reground me in the still point beyond the storm sometimes. So that even when I’m starting to kind of lose my way in the busyness, these kinds of contemplations kind of bring me back to the center. So that’s a big part of — and people will tell me, what are you reading? And then, if I tell them, they would just blank. They would just glaze over.

Because it’s some Sanskrit name of some scripture written 1300 years ago, and they’re like, what? But that stuff is my heart and soul and keeps me centered. And it may not be cool and hip, but I’m not cool and hip, so who cares?

vKind

I love this. It’s about — no matter what you’re doing, like, have that basis. Have that thing that brings you back to the center. It brings you back to whatever that is for you. It may look different for everybody, but what’s going to keep you able to go and give you that energy you need?

Jeffrey

And I think a lot of people in our movement are fatigued, actually. And I think there have been some leaders in the animal rights movement lately in the vegan movement that are addressing that, especially activists, who are facing the suffering every day and out there really advocating for change.

And it’s easy to feel like it’s an overwhelming task and nothing I do is enough. That’s true if you’re running a business that’s a vegan business or if you’re an animal rights advocate. Or if you’re going out there trying to educate people, you can be — we can get overwhelmed. And so it’s really a marathon more than a sprint, even though when you think about the animals and the planet, there’s a huge sense of urgency.

But if we burn out too fast, we can’t contribute. So we’re all looking for that balance, I think trying to find our way. And I don’t say that I’ve found it yet, you know, but I’m trying.

vKind

Well, thank you. I think you’re a shining example of it. And we’re so grateful to have you in this movement with us. 

Jeffrey

Thank you.

vKind

And to end, I’d like to ask kind of an off-the-wall question, if we could. Very curious, I always think this is funny. If you could be any animal in the entire world, what animal would you be and why?

Jeffrey

Such a great question. Well, my comedy answer is a poodle in Beverly Hills, for sure. Just chill, be taken care of. I’ve never really —

That’s my comedy answer.

I don’t know. I think that if I look back if you asked me that as a kid, right? I probably would have said dolphin or monkey or something like that. 

So I’ll go with a dolphin or monkey. Dolphin, A. Monkey, runner up. There you have it. That’s my best guess.

vKind

Okay. Got it. Thank you, Jeffrey. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to be here with us today.

Jeffrey

I want to thank you and for what you guys at vkind are doing. It’s so extraordinary! You’re really changing the world by getting the word out there and giving people like me and others a chance to share from their hearts, and that’s just amazing. I’m so touched and honored that you invited me to be with you today, for real.

vKind

Thank you. Thank you so much. And thank you also to our viewers for being here, for taking this time to listen in, to watch, to visit Plant Power Fast Food, to use vKind, and to be a part of this movement, to be part of the change, to be in action. We are so grateful for you because if it wasn’t for you and the individual choices you make every day, none of this would be possible.

So thank you vKind supporters for all you do. Please stay tuned for our next vKind Connects, where we will connect you with other new exciting vegan business owners, people in the movement, sanctuaries, you name it, we’re covering them.

And please make sure to subscribe because then you’ll be first to know when we’ve got a new episode. So have a wonderful day. Again, thank you so much for your time and until then, take care.

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