KEXP DJ John Richards is well known for his global music influence and committed Morning Show fanbase, but in this lively conversation, Andrea unearths the backstory on his somewhat stealth climate influence. Recorded live at John’s fully vegan Seattle bar, Life On Mars (which is now – and rightly so – a global independent music tourist destination), this conversation brings his “living change” to full light (and, that’d be a disco ball light).
Learn about plant-based-eating and eBike-riding climate influence from a truly surprising validator.
Find John on Insta: https://www.instagram.com/djjohnrichards/ & Twitter: https://twitter.com/djjohnrichards
Visit John’s restaurant, Life on Mars: https://lifeonmarsseattle.com/
More fun stuff about John Richards: The Rad eBikes interview with John: https://www.radpowerbikes.com/blogs/the-scenic-route/riding-ebikes-with-kexp-host-john-richards
Great backgrounder on John/KEXP role during COVID: https://www.vice.com/en/article/y3zmqb/kexp-is-keeping-seattle-and-everyone-else-sane
Huffington Post interview with John, written by Andrea, re: the importance of community radio: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/national-radio-week-kexp-on-the-social-impact-of-community_b_59907654e4b0ed1f464c0bb0
John Richards (00:00):
This was not built just for vegans. This, this was very much my intention. And I think it’s, I think it’s wrong to go in it to it that way. I don’t think shaming the non-vegan and shaming meat eaters is the way to go. And unfortunately, uh, I experience that with vegans all the time, and it really is, is a bummer. And that’s why people shy away from opening vegan places, to be honest with you. And so what we need to do is normalize it. Then when I go to Portland, when I’ve been to New York and I’ve gone to London, it just is, I don’t know how else to say it. Like they just are plant-based.
Andrea Learned (00:38):
I’m Andrea Learned and welcome to Living Change, a podcast exploring unconventional climate leadership. I talk to people who’ve converted their personal values into business and policy decisions in a load of different sectors. I believe that the more we’re visible about these changes, the more we chart the way for other leaders wanting to create new social norms. Today I’m speaking with globally recognized KEXP DJ and the longtime beloved host of the morning show. John Richards at his plant-based bar in the heart of Capitol Hill in Seattle, life on Mars.
John Richards (01:11):
I’m probably standing in the room area. That probably I’m most proud of. Yes, because, uh, when we decided to build this place, I wanted to have a living room or like a basement where people collect vinyl and hang out. And so to have a space large enough to be able to achieve, that’s been awesome. So
Andrea Learned (01:26):
We catch up with John in what he calls the vinyl living room, an area of the bar that really does feel like you’re in. Someone’s extremely cool living room. One wall has nearly 6,000 records floor to ceiling, and another has a giant mural, by the way. Cool in it. A David Bowie like spaceman floats over a classic Washington mountain landscape with translucent color spots. I found it sort of trippy and stunning, but I’m not qualified to talk about art. You just need to see it for yourself.
John Richards (01:54):
It was funny, when we did our mural here, we felt like we needed this mural for some, we needed like a thing that everyone’s eyes were drawn to whatever. We never thought that it would be the giant 6,000 record wall to my left . But this sort of draws everybody in from outside. Yeah. I mean, I would think
Andrea Learned (02:11):
They walk by and they’re
John Richards (02:12):
Like, yeah. One of my favorite things is to sit here in the, in the room and, and, and look out the window and you see people who’ve never, you know, been in here walk by and stop and point and you know, they’re coming in at some point. at some point we’ll break them down.
Andrea Learned (02:25):
Yeah. John gives us a quick tour of life on Mars from the disco bathroom with its own sound system. Yeah, you heard that, right?
John Richards (02:33):
So we installed a disco ball, the lighting disco’s, usually playing, you know, the entire day
Andrea Learned (02:38):
To the two record players at the front. Something I’ve never seen at another bar.
John Richards (02:43):
These are two Technics that we, uh, installed at the front of the bar. So right when you walk in, it tells you what we’re about and then that this is serious . Yeah. And so yeah, we are about music if you didn’t know that we are. And so what happens if people come in and they can pick records from the, the wall and we play album sides instead of playing a jukebox or playing our own mix. Um, we just make sure you can only pick good records. And that’s, in our opinion, all we have in that wall. So, um, there is a cutoff like around six, seven every night we cut off to a mix that I put together because it’s just too busy. And so it’s a nice mix of both, Hey, here, pick some vinyl. And then later it’s a mix that I’ve created, um, for the bar, but I’m really proud of this just because we weren’t sure how to like hand over control to people and we ended up handing over control to people. So yeah,
John Richards (03:33):
In a smart
Andrea Learned (03:34):
…the food isn’t the only aspect of the bar that’s vegan. Every element of the bar’s design and materials are plant-based.
John Richards (03:42):
I’ve been vegan for half my life since, uh, January 1st, 2000. And so we were never gonna open a place where it was served animals or served dairy or any way exploited animals or, or any life be taken. It seems silly when you say it like that. Yes. So everything we did had that in mind when we designed the bar and we designed the menu and we designed, um, the drinks, more drinks than, you know, uh, actually have that because of the, a lot of the tubing they run through, oh, we’ve got some animals and things like that. So, and then other beers especially. Mm-hmm. Um, and some liquors as well. So we go through that with uh, you know, meticulously making sure that you just know that you can come in here and know that nothing was harmed during that. And the design was the same. You know, the whole, the materials using the booths, the everything. We didn’t want to, you know, it’s hard. You see why people cut corners or, um, don’t make that effort because it’s just easier. And, and to be honest, it’s more expensive. Doesn’t make any sense to me why it’s more expensive. But it is
Andrea Learned (04:45):
The intentionality with which John and his wife Amy built this restaurant. Living their change and living their values is so inspiring to me. I love that. Although the restaurant is plant-based, the vibe of the bar is fun, funky and inclusive. It’s a restaurant that just is plant-based and invites you to make that choice even for one meal.
John Richards (05:05):
That’s the whole idea here is this was not built just for vegans. This, this was very much my intention. And I think it’s, I think it’s wrong to go in it to it that way. I don’t think shaming the non-vegan and shaming meat eaters is the way to go. And unfortunately, uh, I experience that with vegans all the time and it really is, is a bummer. And that’s why people shy away from opening vegan places, to be honest with you. And so what we need to do is normalize it. Then when I go to Portland, when I’ve been to New York and I’ve gone to London, um, uh, even Amsterdam recently, uh, um, there’s been, it’s just, it’s just, it just is. I don’t know how else to say it. Mm-hmm. , like they just are plant-based. And so I wanted this place to be plant-based and some people have come in here and accused me of tricking them cuz the food’s so good. And I’m like, great, I’m glad I tricked you, but this
Andrea Learned (05:50):
Is what I wanna say. So when you look at this place online or you walk up to it, it, there’s no neon sign saying plant-based vegan, et cetera. No. And this is that point that
John Richards (06:00):
You’re making. Yeah. We’re proud of it. And, and I put plant based on everything. Cause I think vegan scares people away. And I think, unfortunately, to be honest with you, even our, our biggest critics will be vegans and not meat eaters.
John Richards (06:13):
I mean just, it’s shocking. Yeah. It actually shocked me and I understand now. Yeah. As a vegan, why people, I get resistance whenever they just assume I’m going to shame them and I’m going to make them feel bad and I’m going to tell ’em I’m better than them. Or they just know maybe. Right. Maybe they know somewhere in their heart that eating animals and dairy is hurting the earth and hurting themselves and they don’t wanna hear us, they don’t wanna hear about it. Mm-hmm. . So if you say you’re vegan, you immediately are projecting that on them. And I didn’t want that. I don’t want that. Every time you come in here, every time you’re having a plant-based meal, and then that means you weren’t having a meat dairy-based meal every time. And if you can come in here and see you can have a great bar meal like, and drinks and they’re vegan, it might open the door to you to think like, oh, I guess I could be.
Cuz I hear a lot of people like, well I can’t have anything vegan. I’m like, dude, have you had a salad? Do you have french fries? , like potato chips? Like Right, right. Those are actually in many cases, vegan friends, you know, so, I mean, this is how it should be. You should just be matter of fact about it. That’s just what we are. Mm-hmm. , you know, I don’t have to be Thai to enjoy Thai food. You don’t have to be vegan, enjoy vegan food. I think food is just delicious. And if we can get people in a bar setting, especially where you have come in disarmed, you know, you’re just, you know, coming in for a drink. Yeah. Have some food. You have it. And in, and in many cases, absolutely no idea that it was plant-based is super cool. In my book…
Andrea Learned (07:32):
John’s Point here is bigger than just his experience. It’s something I’ve witnessed in my food systems related climate work too. I’ve seen this disconnect about how we get people to consider transitioning away from eating food produced through animal agriculture. There’s this infighting about which words to use and purity to us about who is in or out of the truly vegan club. If it’s visible from outer space that even the masses of people who don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs already can’t get along or agree. How can we persuasively convince other people to steer in that direction? For me the key is messaging and allowance for the journey. The journey is more than just, okay, it’s key to lasting change.
People are coming to visit Seattle. Mm-hmm. and people who listen to you all over are coming and going. I want to check out John’s bar and coming here. So the influence that you have because of the platform is incredible. I just, it’s interesting to me. You are really influencing people globally on this front.
John Richards (08:31):
Well, I’ve learned in Seattle that people make a trip to here, they’re starting to associate it with Seattle, you know, KEXP is a location, Life on Mars is a location. The Pike Place market is a location. And so they have that on the list. And, and I’ve heard from people that like, I want to come to your bar and I’m gonna try vegan food. You know, like they have any Oh my gosh. And so when you hear that, you’re like, that’s great. Oh my gosh. Good for you. You know. Gosh. And, and it, for me it becomes like the Paul McCartney meatless Monday thing. Yes. It’s like when you come here, you’re gonna visit from that place and then you’re gonna take a chance on a meal. So what’s gonna happen when they go back, they may seek out the vegan place in their neighborhood, in their city, and then they may go down that path where they’ve seen a part of their town they haven’t seen.
If you’re visiting Seattle, let’s say you’re on a cruise ship or you’re, you came in from the airport or you’re staying downtown, yeah. You’re gonna stick to heaven forbid . Yeah. You’re gonna stick to the same, no offense to Seattle. Some pretty kind of boring, stale areas that that, that are made for tourists. And I know this cuz when I travel I try to get out of those areas. Cuz cuz it’s it, you’re not seeing the actual city. Well what happens when you come up Pike here and you come up pine next door and you hit this qu this is where you see Seattle. Yeah. Like as much change as there’s been, this is still the heart and soul of the city. Um, or you go to West Seattle where I live and it’s, you know, the heart and soul of that area is amazing, you know, and, um, it takes the traveling a little and getting you to come somewhere. So if my platform can get you to come visit the, you know, music bar with vinyl that you’ve heard so much about that is named after David Bowie song, well then I’ve done something. Right. Cuz you’ve seen our city and you’ve tried vegan food mm-hmm. and hopefully, you know, you had a good memory. I I’ve run into so many people in this bar that, that have come from other cities. It’s amazing. Everywhere. Every almost every time I’m in here, I learn. People have traveled here just to come to this bar.
Andrea Learned (10:11):
I wanted to hear more about John’s journey to veganism.
John Richards (10:24):
I had been leaning towards that for quite some time. You know, I was in my twenties and I had dated someone who was a vegetarian. And so I had been in that world and it, it was not a great world then. You know, there was like, just, you know, there’s no sprouts in this bar by the way. No sprouts. Oh. Oh, okay. Because every goddamn vegetarian place I went to, it was just sprouts and dry bread. Right. And the worst sandwiches you’ve ever had, like that was it. I was like, I can’t do this. And then, you know what’s funny? You can eat really badly as a vegan, like really badly. Yes. And people say that to me, I don’t know why, like, well, you can be unhealthy. I’m like, yeah, you can. Absolutely. I, you know, I could go eat baked goods all day long, you know, like Flying Aprin, my, one of my favorite places on earth Yeah.
Is vegan. I could eat there all day and make, so I had just, I’m very sports lot athletics. Um, I’m from a family of, uh, smokers, alcoholics, overeaters, all who most died before they were 60 or at 60. Um, none of them were runners or vegans or anything getting close to where, what I’m doing. And so I didn’t wanna be like them. So I’ve been trying to do the opposite of them from the get-go. And so more and more I started thinking I didn’t, it seemed wrong to eat animals. Like just seemed wrong to hurt an animal if you didn’t have to. Like, why would I do that if there’s alternatives? And so actually I became vegan, right? I guess not in 2000, but vegetarian. I was at my brother’s on New Year’s Eve and Millennium, you know, we’re all freaked out about 1999. Yes. I’m like, well if we all live, my computers flip seems so stupid now.
Andrea Learned (11:55):
John Richards (11:56):
I’m just gonna, I think I’m gonna try giving up meat and I’m gonna be done with it. And I’m someone, if I commit to something, I’m pretty committed. But yeah, we had a steak that night and luckily it was super, like rare, medium rare, just pink. Oh. And I ate about half of it. I was like, this is a way to go out. Yeah. , I’m done. This is awful. And then, uh, a little down the road a little while later. So I was barely doing any dairy and Amy and I, she had had some health issues and, um, some serious health issues. Mm-hmm. and giving up dairy in particular. She already was vegetarian, but giving up dairy was high on that list. And we were on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere. We made that decision to give dairy. So what we did is we went and found, you’re on a, you’re still on a cruise ship Right. that they took over and we said, we went and found the like most like disgustingly rich dairy, like, I dunno, like a Sunday cake Sunday we put ice cream on it, just piled it with dairy and just ate as much as we could to
John Richards (12:55):
John Richards (12:55):
Moment. Yeah. To be like, let’s remind ourselves why we want to give this up. I don’t know why. This was our thinking like we’re go out with a bang, I’m not sure which I’m sure we didn’t finish it. Well
Andrea Learned (13:03):
It is akin to the big rare steak kind.
John Richards (13:05):
Oh yeah. So each time it happened, I got like, it was, it was awful. Yeah. I felt so bad and it made it very easy. And I’ll tell you what, the next day, you know, how you make commitments though. The next day we had to go through the Miami airport, which is the worst airport, um, on many levels. But there was nothing, there was nothing we could eat. And we started to go like, well, I guess we could start tomorrow. And I said, look, if we can make it through the Miami Airport and stay vegan and not have to compromise here. And sometimes you do and you don’t even know you’ve compromised. I’m not, I’m not so strict that I would beat myself up when that happens.
Andrea Learned (13:36):
I’m the same.
John Richards (13:36):
I think, I think that’s a really bad, I hate to label, right? Yep. But we made it through that airport and we managed to find enough food and we decided from then on we’re gonna plan better and be vegan. And so yeah, we went out with a bang and Amy’s health improved greatly. You know, it’s not for everyone, but I think if you’re having inflammatory issues, if you’re having all, you know, health issues, it’s something to, to look at dairy in particular is something to look at. My son was that way. He, he has a gluten intolerance. But once we took dairy out of his, uh, diet, um, and he went vegan, his health improved greatly. So it’s just, for him that was, again, it was a life. It just changed his life. Well
Andrea Learned (14:13):
It’s interesting because I see the same thing. I’m like, if you, if you try it, if you go without dairy, literally I feel like for like a week you’re gonna see a difference. But two, the point of all of this is you, each of these things, if you go plant-based, then you stop eating dairy, all these things happen. You, the story tells itself to you via your body. Yeah.
John Richards (14:32):
Yeah. And, and you, you have to give yourself that chance. I have a, uh, my buddy Gary, he’s in the music industry. He’s, he’s always been sort of a mentor to me. And, and he sat with me once and said, John, I I, he came up, visited from California. He goes, I, you know, I’m really trying to be vegan. I I, but I, I gotta ask your advice here. I’m like, huh. He goes, I just love pizza. And so I don’t know what to do. And I, I said, then eat pizza. But that you don’t have, you didn’t, we don’t get a card. You’re not in a club. You didn’t fail. Right. If you’re doing everything but pizza, yeah, you’re good, man. Yeah. Like, think of the moderation you’ve just achieved. But I bet because you still eat pizza, you’re still eating meat and dairy and stuff because you’re like, well I’m not a vegan.
And I said, yeah, I am. I said, well, what if you just gave up that like you wanted to and allowed yourself this pizza. Now I didn’t tell him the secret information here is that in about three to six months you’re gonna be like, I can’t eat this pizza. Yeah. That’s the secret. So I didn’t tell him that, that he’s gonna get, then he’s gonna eat that dairy and be like, oh my. And just straight bread, by the way, this is like, I’m gonna get sick. But at the time I remember thinking, I have to remember this, these labels that we give each other that he couldn’t just be a moderate, you know, cuz you know, vegans are, say he is not a real or whatever, you know, or his friends are gonna look at him funny, you know, oh, I thought you were vegan and you’re eating the, you know, I just, you know what, 95% of my diet now is plant-based. Yeah. Great man. Because it was 50% before. Yeah. Imagine if everyone went to 50%. And so
Andrea Learned (15:49):
The motivation, it’s self perpetuating.
Speaker 3 (15:50):
That’s yeah’s my thing. People are always like, I don’t know if I could do it. And I’m like, if you do it for like a week, your body will go, what did you just put in here?
John Richards (15:56):
Yeah. Yeah. I’ve trusted the whole idea of the bar. And the whole idea with us is, um, just choose meals. Try not to make it the main thing in your meal. Yeah. Like, just try and just see. Because for me, I had to, if you’re okay, if you’re, if you’re a plant-based diet, you have to cook, you have no choice in this situation. Mm-hmm. , because I didn’t cook before and now I had to cook and I’ve got, and they said, well, what do you eat? I’m like, I eat so many more things I didn’t eat before. I’m so more creative. You know, I read Scott Zurich’s book. Mm-hmm. , he’s the ultramarathon or a vegan. I cannot recommend it enough. It had, it had, um, menus in it. And Amy was telling me, you know, when you really started cooking, I said, when he said I was pregnant with our youngest son, and you knew I was outta commission, so you’d be cooking all the time instead once in a while.
Yeah. And you’re reading that book and he has recipes in the book. She says he made like every mess recipe, like to this day you make that chili like interest from this book. And so just because I was reading it for inspiration, he’s a runner. I’m a runner. He’s vegan. I’m vegan. So for me, you know, if you want to learn more about your food and your body and, and be better about how you spend your money on food mm-hmm. and like, you know, and try to control what comes into your body, then if you have a plant-based diet, I think you’re gonna be a little more selective, which is good.
Andrea Learned (17:02):
John makes a great point. I tell people all the time how when I first went plant-based, it was self-perpetuating because I felt so much better almost within days. So then I wanted to experiment more with cooking and keep learning. I asked John about how his behavior changes have evolved and how it impacts his family and their lifestyles.
John Richards (17:23):
I moved to West Seattle. I used to bike my regular bike to the radio station every morning. I could. As in Greenwood, it’s, it’s just a few miles. You know, it’s a, it’s a haul, but it was like a haul like leaving at that hour because it was scarier to ride home in the daytime. Yeah, I agree. To be honest, morning was being a biker. I know. . Yeah. Morning was like, it was dark. People could see me coming. Beautiful. You know, and, and it, and later it’s buses and cars that are mad at you and, and yeah, . Um, but I moved to West Seattle, so that was off the table, right? Mm-hmm. . Okay. So I’m driving to work now. Uh, one day Megan Jasper from SubPop CEO of SubPop was riding with her husband Brian in these e-bikes down the street just with the, with just the stupidest smiles you’ve ever seen. And I was like, what is that? I didn’t know what it was. I was like, shot. I didn’t know she was get on this thing. I got on and wrote it around the neighborhood. And the next thing you know, I reached out to Rad Bikes and, and, and one,
John Richards (18:10):
One thing led
John Richards (18:11):
To another. Yeah. Now I have a cargo bike that, um, that I ride. And, and the first six months I put 200 miles on it. And these 200 miles, I only rode it two places. I rode it to the park with my son and I, I didn’t, I’m, I, 95% of the time I write it, my son’s on the back. Right. And the other was to pick him up from school and back.
Andrea Learned (18:31):
So it was really two very specific things that were transportation that you kind of felt you could do safely.
John Richards (18:37):
Safely. I kinda wanna make that felt safe. Yes, yes, yes. Yeah. Because these roads were side roads mm-hmm. . And the first day I rode my bike to pick him up, I’m like, well, I’m gonna pick ’em up. I was just saying like, how am I gonna use this bike? Who? And West Seattle’s made of hills. It was west. Seattle’s just hills. So I picked him up and I looked, and it’s one of those moments where you look and they’re, and I’m one of these people, I was 25 cars, idling, idling half lived within a few miles of the school. And I was doing this too. So I’m not shaming anyone, but I just looked at it like, this is crazy. This is crazy. Talk. Like, what are we doing? And they would sit and you’re looking at the cars idling and exhaust going up, and I roll on my bike and
Andrea Learned (19:14):
You roll up.
John Richards (19:15):
And I just pull it up. I’m like, Hey dude. And he gets out and he puts a helmet on and the kids are looking at him, you know, and you’re home like a half hour early. I was out and these people are still in line. And not only did I cut the line, but I cut the emissions and I just rode two, two miles that I wasn’t gonna ride. And then again, you add that up in six months, looking at that thing, that’s 200 miles. I mean that was an eyeopener.
Andrea Learned (19:36):
That’s an eyeopener. And then what happens is you start to squeak it out, right? Yeah. I need something from the drugstore or whatever. Yeah. Yeah. And then you look at your e-bike thing and go, oh my goodness, I’ve ridden this much.
John Richards (19:44):
It’s, it’s a, it it it is, it’s a tool. I cannot, I cannot recommend those enough to people. Like I cannot, uh, I they, for someone who gave up bike riding, really because of where he moved, because he has kids. So of course I can’t ride with my nine. Of course I can. Right, right, right. And, but on my back of my e-bike, he’s, he’s, he totally fits on there. And, and I can ride on roads where I’m not gonna get hit by a car most likely. And we can go down to Lincoln Park, we go down to the junction, we can go to a school. And these are all places I probably wouldn’t have gone to in a car. But,
Andrea Learned (20:14):
So then the other thing that you realize, and I’m even from the veganism and the bikes, is how much you’re influencing your kids. So you’ve got a child that’s in high school or you get to a point where the kids are 16 and my neighbor automatically like, oh, I can drive now I’m gonna save to buy a car. And it’s like just giving your kids the gift of eat a plant-based diet. Think about riding a bike instead of driving. Oh my gosh. Yeah. And then exponential climate influence.
John Richards (20:37):
My 18 year old, and I, I remember looking at your carbon footprint and I have kids, number one thing you can do is not have kids. Well, too late. I have kids and, and you love it. Not drive a car. Okay. Well I have a car and I do, I do have to transport even if they’re hybrids and I, I’ll go electric in my next purchase. But, um, my 18 year old has never read meat in his life. He’s, he’s more militant about being vegan than I am. He’s not shy about it. He knows how to talk to people about it, even when they’re, because what we’ve experienced all our life is people angry at us. And again, I can’t understand it and it, I don’t understand a lot of things humans do, but that one always gets me. Um, and Arley has handled it like a champ, you know, and he’s just matter of fact about it. He’s like, Hey man, I just, I don’t want animals to die. So my kids I hope, will influence others in themselves. And at 18, you know, Arley can, he has the right, we are not, and that’s the other thing. We do not enforce this when they leave our homes. You’re not gonna find meat or dairy in our home because we don’t have any . Right, right. But if you go out, my son is gonna go out. It is your call. It is up to you now. And he’s,
Andrea Learned (21:41):
And he’s gotta hunt it down right. As if he’s in the Miami airport.
John Richards (21:44):
Yeah. And I, and I let him know like, hey, well he could have meat, you know, and, and I just let him know like, this is going to taste, you’re gonna think it’s funny cuz it’s gonna taste is very similar. He said, well then why would I have that? I said, well, I don’t know. I said, that’s up to you though. And so he has stuck to that. And I would say probably will all of his life.
John Richards (22:00):
And the other thing is just being strategic, I think both with the bikes and the plant base, like being strategic of do I need to drive this? No, I can take a bus or a bike. And then being strategic with the thinking ahead. Yeah. If I’m gonna go to this party or I’m gonna be with these friends, let me bring a vegan bar or something
John Richards (22:15):
Something. Like with Arleigh, we, he takes the bus. He goes to school downtown. It’s a, it’s quite a commute. He doesn’t have a license yet. And I think it’s the best thing we did for him. Plus my son riding the bus is gonna give him an education he’s not gonna get anywhere else. He’s always gonna appreciate how he gets from one place to another. He won’t take for granted when he is able to drive. And he knows he has the tools to use public transportation or a bike, which I think is really important. You gotta at least introduce it to him so they know they have that.
Andrea Learned (22:40):
If you’re living change, people see your values. And that reflects in decisions that ripple outward in your family, in the community and in the environment. Suddenly one person’s impact really reverberates
John Richards (22:53):
At the top of who I am is I, I just wanna make a difference in people’s lives. I wanna make their lives better in some way. So it’s be a good human. And then what does that mean? I care about animals, I care about life. I don’t think, I think our, I think our ability to mass slaughter animals relates directly to our ability to hurt each other. Yeah. And so I feel like if we could just be kind to humans and be kind to animals and be kind to any living thing, it seems like our low bar that we can’t seem to hit, um, that this world would be a better place. So if I live that every day, maybe they can see like, that guy seems somewhat normal . Right, right. He’s not a, he’s not totally loony and he’s a vegan.
Andrea Learned (23:35):
There are all sorts of people. I mean, my argument is always sports, music. I don’t know. There are a couple things where there’s community and you’re standing at a, you know, you guys go to a lot of professional sports. You’re standing standing in a stadium Yeah. With a bunch of people whose politics maybe you don’t agree with. That’s right. But you’re cheering it on. Same thing when I’m at shows or at KEXP events. That’s right. It’s like, I don’t, all the people could be whatever, but we’re all going. Hell yeah. Yeah. And so that solidarity and a universal love and respect. Yeah. Oh my God.
John Richards (24:02):
And be open about the things you support and then tell everyone, well, that’s okay. This is what we are. Not – you have to do it. Yes. No, but if this is, if you believe, if you, if you like us, if you follow what we do, this is how we made our decision. This is a decision. And I think we probably open people’s eyes to do that.
Andrea Learned (24:18):
The point that you made that you do this, but also you mention it or you let slip. Right. That you’re doing this Yes. And that you had a, maybe a decision change. So even telling me that, but I’ve also heard you say that on the air, you know? Yeah. You, you, you’re mapping it out. And in a way, what I think you’re doing is giving other people permission who are kind of thinking about going vegan. Yeah. Kind of thinking about to try it. Which I also feel that I do. And that is exactly what I’m talking about. You’re exactly right. I mean, it’s so fun. So this has been amazing, John. Thank you so much. Of course. Yeah. Really appreciate it. Yeah. Yeah.
Andrea Learned (24:53):
Thanks so much to John Richards for taking the time to share his story and his amazing bar with us. This conversation with John brings up so many valuable points for leaders looking for ways to lead by example. Behavior changes are self-perpetuating. You start with a meatless Monday or a simple reduction in meat consumption and you feel so good, you start to think more about animal agriculture. The why to eat this way gets a lot more interesting to dig into. Gradually maybe you make the switch from dairy and then maybe you’re ready to tackle your transportation methods. If we trust the process and expose more people to plant-based food, especially by way of highlighting leaders who are vegan or call themselves plant-based, we can shift the perceived social norm and move their peers and followers along the path. From the climate perspective. Not being militant about veganism helps more people lower their political defenses and eat new kinds of food.
So trust the process. Expose more people to amazingly fun bars like Life on Mars and plant-based food trucks, et cetera. Leverage the stories of influential people. Celebrities, yes. But for me, even more important are the folks we already point to as professional leaders. They are the surprising validators with huge influence to shape policies and expose their staff and stakeholders to a whole new way of thinking. Identifying, building and leveraging your leadership is something few may feel prepared to do, but climate influence can’t wait. If your organization is ready to make the shift, reach out to me. I’d love to help. Find firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also easy to find on Twitter until it is no more. And LinkedIn Living Change is produced by Larj media. That’s L A R J Media. Special thanks to Tina, Joel, Jeff, Nick, and Maria. Until next time, pedal safely.