from fashion to plant food: daniel, 29, is a dedicated winter swimmer, surfer, and plant-based chef. he wishes to show fellow people around him why it’s vital to fight for the future good of the planet - as he aspires to do both through his cooking and way of living as well.
he walks down the jetty, and without hesitation, jumps in. it’s february in denmark and the water is close to the freezing point. he takes a few breaststrokes and breaths deeply as he connects with the elements.
why would anyone jump into a freezing ocean? a growing number of cold-water swimmers swear by the mental and physical benefits. daniel vakili, 29, is one of them.
“it energizes me. it’s an ideal way to attain both physical and mental balance. the cold water acts as a kind of shock therapy for me, which keeps me grounded. i get the feeling of resetting the body and mind. i become resilient to everyday challenges. i feel humbled. it’s my form of therapy,” he says.
and there is evidence to it. the cold water causes the blood vessels to constrict to try to retain body heat and the blood pressure increases to avoid cooling down. in the process to protect the body, hormones such as endorphins, are released. as result, winter swimmers as daniel are known to lead more active lives and are generally happier and more fulfilled people.
the former fashion employee transmits that newfound energy from the cold rush to his company, ‘plant food’, and a newly opened plant based food truck in the heart of the city of aarhus. with a strong focus on sustainability, it was a natural step for the passionate entrepreneur. but what drives him?
“i feel a natural responsibility to do my best in regards to living sustainably, i guess. from there it has evolved. i have become aware that you must be the change you wish to see in the world, as gandhi once said, i believe.”
as a dedicated winter swimmer, surfer, and plant-based cook, you would think a man like daniel was born with trekking shoes on his feet and a tent and backpack strapped on his back, but that is far from the case, he says.
so, if it wasn’t predetermined that nature and the environment should take up such a large part of his life - how did he ended up being so dedicated to the purpose? the urgency of the climate crisis.
now he wants to show others why it is so important to fight for the good of nature. as he aspires to do, through his cooking and way of living.
because, what if we can live in a different world, where it is easier to eat healthy as well as climate friendly food, and have far better animal welfare without losing delicious flavors? he asks.
in his business, ‘plant food’, they believe that such a world exists and all they want to do, is to push it closer to becoming a reality.
“we would like to inspire people to live more plant-based by showing how simple and tasty it can actually be. we have a desire to make great and tasty food to people without having them feel like they have to settle for anything less. that it is possible to create a greater quality of life for your body and at the same time contribute positively to something larger.”
”it’s cool to inspire. it’s as big a passion as cooking for me. i probably wouldn’t have started my company if it didn’t have that extra layer with a wish to inspire others to make small lifestyle changes.”
but instead of pointing fingers, it’s all about encouraging people to live more consciously. it has to start with the individual. step by step, he believes.
”i’m not trying to do more than i’m capable of really. i believe that we only should do what we can manage to do. there’s no point in having a lot of short-term motivations if you can’t keep them up in the long run. it’s all about making manageable changes,” he says and continues:
“we are all different, some don’t have the surplus energy others have, but i think it’s about being conscious when making choices in our everyday life and perhaps trying to understand what the consequences are of these choices we make. i’m convinced that better education and shared information, is the best way of moving forward.”
some say that the world is headed towards “a perfect storm” and meeting that challenge requires fundamental changes to the culture of the business as well. as consumers have become more conscious ’business as usual’ is no longer an option.
the major societal changes must come from within the system, he believes. it’s the big political steps that make a significant difference, but there is no need, or time, to wait for it to become a reality. no one is too small to make a difference.
there is no doubt that most of us have already become more conscious. that reformation is well underway, fortunately. also, in big industries.
before starting his company daniel was working in the fashion industry. and he appreciates that the industry amongst others now also focuses on sustainability. whether it’s recycling, using better materials or a smaller carbon footprint in the production:
“that’s a good sign. the fashion industry is more complicated than with foods, for sure. but the willingness to develop in a better direction is only positive - and i believe it’s speeding up at the moment. things are becoming more transparent, and that is one of the keys to creating common rules of consumption for people to follow. the fashion industry is heading in the right direction for the time being. again, you have to focus on what you can overcome. whether it’s food, clothing or transport: everything counts!”
back at the jetty, daniel is now returning to land. cold, but full of new energy to continue his journey.
“this is also a great way to enjoy the silence, you relax and have time for your thoughts,” he ends.