Leading a Revolution: NYC Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams Posted April 13, 2018 Jonathan Cetnarski, NGI President and CEO The health and wellness space is continuously changing, and for once, it seems like we are heading in the right direction. People are concerned about health and healthcare. They are worried about the environment, workers’ rights, and animal cruelty. Individuals are wanting to take charge of their wellbeing. They are beginning to understand that food is central to good health, yet they are frustrated by a food system that is failing them. For more than 40 years, Natural Gourmet Institute has been voicing the need for change by teaching individuals and communities about the power of food as a tool for healing and by providing current and future leaders with the skills to translate this power to the plate. This wellness revolution that we are experiencing needs leaders with the conviction, purpose, passion, and intention to guide individuals and communities to the desired end. Over the past several months, I have gotten to know one of the emerging leaders of this food revolution: New York City’s Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams. “BP” Adams has become a true leader and agent of change as he introduces his Brooklyn constituency to the healing power of plant-based diets. After his own incredible journey with healing, BP Adams wanted to share his new-found knowledge and wisdom and embarked upon a mission to educate as many New Yorkers as would listen about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, to create programs to make Brooklyn school lunches more healthy and plant centric, and to support the mayor’s office with different initiatives, like Meatless Mondays. The Brooklyn Borough President is tireless, exudes health and vitality, and is deeply committed to changing how people eat, live, and thrive the great borough of Brooklyn and beyond. I had the opportunity to sit with BP Adams and asked him a few questions about his passion for plant-based diets and his desire to effect lasting change. What inspired you to share your transformation and locally start a health movement? After my Type 2 diabetes diagnosis and subsequent journey to better health through a plant-based diet, I realized I needed to share the power of that movement with everyone across Brooklyn. I realized that God did not bury me with the weight of diabetes; he planted within me an opportunity to heal everyone across the borough. My experience shattered the myth that I had diabetes because of my DNA. It wasn’t my DNA—it was my dinner, and breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I needed to share the beauty of that message with others. Why is community important in leading a healthy lifestyle? Community is such an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle because it takes a village to raise healthy individuals and families. We are all influenced by what others eat and the lifestyles they lead particularly within our own families. The journey to healthy living cannot just end with one individual or another. It has to be a united community effort combined with a deep cultural shift in the way we understand food and its power to transform one’s life and rid the body of preventable disease. We have a blog series on baby steps that one can take to start making healthier choices. What is one small step that you took to make health a priority in your life? One small step I took to leading a healthier lifestyle was to completely cut out processed foods from my diet. This included taking out processed meats, grains, and sugars. These products are destroying our bodies and are not providing us with any nutritional benefit. That really helped me lose a substantial amount of weight as well. What are your future goals for helping New Yorkers become healthier? I envision a future where we can ban processed meats from all school lunch menus across the five boroughs of the city. It is unacceptable that we continue to feed our children food items that are classified by the World Health Organization as Class 1 carcinogens on the same level as smoking cigarettes. Processed meats are known to cause many types of cancer. I also aim to expand urban farming in Brooklyn to empower our residents to grow their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs at home or in school. Through our plant-based/vegan meetups held quarterly at Brooklyn Borough Hall, I would like to continue raising awareness of the power of living a plant-based lifestyle in preventing illness and living a longer, healthier life. If you could give 20-year-old you advice, what would it be? Take care of yourself! I wish I could tell that young 20-year-old me to take care of his body and not to waste it away by eating all the donuts, sweets, and greasy foods that I enjoyed so much back in those days. I did not know it at the time, but those foods and sugary drinks were slowly destroying my body, ultimately leading to my Type 2 diabetes diagnosis decades later. One burger isn’t going to do much damage, but it is the years of eating those burgers that accumulate like Russian Roulette with your health. I would also tell him to get off the couch and start moving. Exercise is such an important part of staying healthy and I did not do much of that back then. What’s one thing you do every day to help keep you on track for being healthy? One thing I do to keep healthy is I eat five times a day to ensure my metabolism is working well. I like to cook my meals from scratch by going to a local market and picking up kale, onions, and other vegetables. In that process, I remind myself that just like a former alcoholic goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to get better and stay off his or habit of drinking, the same is true for those of us who were addicted to these unhealthy foods. It’s a never-ending journey and a constant reminder to kick the habit and to eat nutritious meals. Here at NGI we could not be happier to find a leader like BP Adams, and we look forward to joining him as he enables New Yorkers to live happier and healthier lives, one plate at a time.