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UP #39: Igniting A Revolution And Changing The Paradigm Of Food With Ocean Robbins

UP #39: Igniting a Revolution and Changing the Paradigm of Food with Ocean Robbins

Imagine being born to parents who are fully awake and have unplugged from the matrix of cultural conditioning. Parents who have chosen to crush status quo in favor of a simpler life of meaning and purpose. Can you imagine the potential of who you could become from early on in life? Can you imagine what it would be like to never be indoctrinated into the cultural coma of conformity and separation? Can you imagine the liberation of a life where authentic expression was celebrated, selflessness was cultivated, simplicity trumped consumption, purpose was nurtured, and love for ALL living beings was the household modus operandi? Can you imagine being brought up in a household where you were taught about what really matters – leaving the world a better place because of how much you care?

Close your eyes, breathe deeply and imagine…

This week’s Unplug podcast guest is a truly special man who was born into such a household. Ocean Robbins, son of best-selling author John Robbins (Diet for a New America), is a beautiful man who has gifted his life to the world in a way that is not only leaving it a better place, but is also changing many lives along the way.

At the tender age of 15, he co-founded YES! – or Youth for Environmental Sanity. The organization has since grown into a powerful non-profit organization that connects, inspires and collaborates with young changemakers in building thriving, just and sustainable ways of life – for all life.

He’s spoken to hundreds of thousands of people, led hundreds of retreats, workshops and Jams for leaders in 65+ nations, written books, mentored (and learned from) changemakers, been a creative partner and lead editor for bestselling books.

He is now the CEO of the Food Revolution Network where 100,000 plus people have mobilized for healthy, sustainable, humane and delicious food and food systems. He is also an adjunct professor of Peace Studies at Chapman University, a blogger, a speaker, and a facilitator. He’s a man of many world changing accomplishments. No surprise considering his exceptional upbringing.

Despite being born into a status quo crushing household with a father who has transformed the lives of many, Ocean has not been exempt from hardship. He’s the father of two identical twins who spent the first six weeks of life in intensive care for their premature entrance into the world. Ongoing oxygen was a life-saving necessity to prevent their untimely deaths. The boys survived and live with autism under the loving care of Ocean and his wife Michele. They have been incredible teachers and, in Ocean’s own words, “to this day the boys struggle with numerous developmental delays and special needs. They are also incredible reminders to me, on a daily basis, of the power of play, of the simple healing beauty of love, and of what really matters most in life.”

In 2008, the bulk of the Robbins’ family life savings were wiped out in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. As Ocean himself writes in his essay titled “My Learning Journey”:

For the past several years, I have offered the following prayer every morning, “may I be given everything I need to do what I am alive for.” In that light, the fact that my wife and I had lost our life savings and the safety net of my mom and dad’s earned wealth in one fell swoop had to hold a crucial lesson. I felt that in some way, I was being tested again, and that this profound loss must be a part of my ultimate purpose.

So we set about rethinking all of our expenses, and looking at what we could do ourselves, what we could make ourselves, what we could do without, and how we could live more simply, more healthfully – and more frugally.

What is clear to me is that we don’t get to choose most of what happens to us. In my twin’s premature birth, subsequent special needs, and the theft of our savings, I have been stretched physically, emotionally, and financially, in ways I’d never imagined. Some share of tragedy comes into every life, it seems. It is most likely that a lot of the pain I will experience still awaits me and yet I do get to decide how I respond to it. Perhaps life, is mostly about what we do with whatever is given to us.

I used to pray to God to have things go the way I wanted them to go; sometimes I still do. But increasingly, I find myself praying for the strength, the wisdom, and the patience, to make the best of however things unfold around me. My favorite question to ask people right now, perhaps because it is so alive in my life, is: “What has been a defining struggle or challenge in your life’s journey, and how has your response to it helped you to grow in wisdom, faith, or compassion?” In these times, when there is so much suffering and so much struggle for so many, we each need to be asking ourselves how we can make the best of what is, and striving to transform our own traumas and struggles into gifts for humanity. For in that transformation, I believe, lies the hope of the world.

Today’s interview is packed with a plethora of wisdom where we discuss:

• How we can’t be effective changemakers without doing out own inner work first.
• How our food choices can heal the planet (and ourselves).
• How we don’t have to be victims of a toxic food culture and instead, we can become agents of change in our own personal lives.
• How we can take back our personal power with the choices we make in all areas of our lives.
• When we make compassionate choices for ourselves as well as others, it enhances our overall vitality in life.
• We all have a unique purpose in life and it can show up in small and big ways.
• How we have many opportunities to express our values in life and when we do, it lights up our soul.
• The art of life is to read the river and remain in the flow of purpose.
• Frustration is the mother of invention.
• Our greatest challenges are often catalysts for our greatest strengths.
• We all deserve love – just because.

Ocean and his father have co created the Food Revolution Network which is a powerful online-based education and advocacy-driven initiative committed to healthy, sustainable, humane and conscious food for all. With more than 100,000 members and with the collaboration of many of the top food revolutionary leaders of our times, the Food Revolution Network aims to empower individuals, build community, and transform food systems to support healthy people and a healthy planet. The passion that they both exude for this project is palpable.

I’m so honored to be able to share the inspiring words of a man who I respect so deeply. Ocean Robbins is truly a gift to the world and I hope that he inspires the best in you to shine like never before.

Ocean Robbins: The Food Revolution


What is your river? What is the course that’s calling you to become more than you could ever dream.


• Ocean and John Robbins’ powerful initiative, The Food Revolution Network website.
• Ocean Robbins personal website.
• Ocean Robbins on Facebook.
• Ocean Robbins on Twitter.

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As always, thank you for listening and thank you for helping to co-create a better world!

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