Studies have shown that the epidemic of chronic, degenerative disease that is sweeping the western world can not only be stopped, but that it can be reversed. Furthermore, the power basically lies in the hands of the consumer and in the choices we make about what to put on our plates. With that being said, it is such an honor having Merhawit Habte an vegan activist and influencer joining Be The Change You Want to See campaign, who strongly believes that food knowledge is health Power. Merhawit also shares her journey of making change within the Vegan community, which is to create more room for representation of beauty and diversity.

Tell us who Merhawit Habte is?
I’ve thought a lot about this and come to the conclusion that I just am. And I’m happy with that. I don’t want to define myself with a title or a role. So, I’m basically Merhawit, which is the best thing to be if you ask me. I’m sure people would describe me in many different ways but I don’t want to put myself in boxes. People tend to limit themselves when they strongly identify themselves in a role, which is sad. But if I have to describe myself I’d probably say that I’m a curious and kind person with quite calm energy. I have no problem being social, but I’m private with very, very, very few people.

Tell us about your profession?
I work as a PR-specialist for Oatly and I also run the Instagram page plantlymerhi. The purpose of plantlymerhi is to inspire people, especially people of colour to eat more plant-based food. Many of our traditional diets back home were always plant-based, yet we tend to be very hesitant about eating plant-based.

Through the campaign “Be the change you want to see” Versatility Beauty&Fashion wants to represent women who have found their purpose of being influential on the areas they want to make a change. Please share what you believe is your purpose and how you can make an impact on the area you would like to change?

The image of eating plant-based is today heavily dominated by white middle-class people. So the lifestyle is very unrelatable for many people, especially for people of colour. Or at least for people around me. Eating meat and dairy is also a symbol of wealth and status in many cultures which I think makes it harder for some to switch, even if research today shows that it is linked to a higher risk of diabetes, cancer and heart diseases. Also, we are indoctrinated with the “fried chicken”- stereotype that has been given to us. Which is really sad. In order to change people’s eating habits, I think healthy diet movements need more representation in the mainstream. When we are represented today, it is mostly within junk food. How come? I think we all know the answer.

Food knowledge is health power so the plant-based movement is important for us. However, it is sad to see how underrepresented we are in it. I mean, how amazing isn’t to own your own health? It’s pretty amazing if you ask me. And we can do so by what we eat. And this is the message I want to share with people. Own your health with more green food choices. Don’t let stereotypes in society affect the way you eat. Be smarter than that.

Versatility Beauty&Fashion is for a healthy and balanced lifestyle and through the Healthy Movement campaign, our aspiration is to inspire our readers that there are versatile ways to achieve a balanced healthy life.

How do you find balance in your daily life and what do you do to maintain:

Healthy body?
I work out a lot, trying to mix cardio with strength. I’ve always been into sports and I played football when I was younger so for me it’s weird not being active. Working out is also the best stress reliever for me, hands down. I think I’d have been much more stressed if I didn’t work out. My goal is to be a strong and healthy person when I get older. I’m also eating a fully plant-based diet, obviously, and I’m trying to avoid semi-prepared and prepared products as much as I can. I’d say that these two are my best medicines in life.

Healthy mind?
For me curiosity is important, so I want to stay curious. Trying new kinds of stuff or seeing new places are things I try to do often, but also to watch documentaries. I hardly ever watch any series or movies, but I really enjoy documentaries. Getting outside for a walk also helps me clear my mind. The best thing to do is to go out for a walk by yourself without listening to anything apart from the sounds around you. That really makes me feel present.

Healthy soul?
I’m not a religious person but I believe everything happens for a reason. What’s meant for me will never miss me. Never. Having that said, I try to not spend much time worrying about things. I see every situation either as a lesson or a blessing, and the older I get the more I try to not waste my time on negative energy, people or thoughts. Life is way too short for that. Also, my sister is a true definition of soul food.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Eat more plant-based! You’ll be eating lots of beans, legumes, and whole grains, which cost less than meat or fish – and they’re packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. Win-win.

Did you relate to Merhawit’s story? Kindly share your thoughts on the comment field below. Also feel free to be a part of “Be the Change You Want to See” campaign by sharing your story and how you can make an impact of the change you want to see.

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