I’d like to introduce Melanie Eager from Eager for Life (Nutritionist and Wellness Coach).
What was the ‘Aaahaaa’ moment when you decided to go Vegan?
I had already dropped dairy for health reasons when I was suffering from post-viral chronic fatigue. I started to improve and notice the difference in my health. Then in April 2013 a special friend of mine in Perth (where I was living at the time) hosted a screening of ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ (http://www.peaceablekingdomfilm.org/). To be honest I didn’t know what my husband and I were going to see. It just sounded like an interesting documentary. We had already been vegetarian for about 11 years so I thought we were pretty educated! The reality of the movie broke our hearts and brought us to tears. The next day my husband said he had seen how easy it was for me to drop dairy, how I had made nut cheeses that tasted amazing and how he could not bear to eat dairy or eggs again. I was feeling the same so from that day onwards we made an ethical choice to become vegan.
When did you embrace a compassionate Vegan lifestyle?
April 2013. We celebrate our veganversary every year.
What were the reactions of family and friends when you first embraced Veganism?
Some weren’t surprised, others thought we had taken it a step too far !! There are still some people that think we’re the ‘weird hippies’ but others who see how healthy and active we are and think there must be something in this ‘vegan diet’ !
Why did you start your business?
In 2011 I got sick and eventually was diagnosed with post viral chronic fatigue. It took over a year for me to be diagnosed and during this time nobody questioned my lifestyle or eating habits. I did a lot of research myself and eventually started to heal through a combination of things. One of the major turning points was assessing my diet and lifestyle (which at the time I did not think were too bad). I had previously worked in an industry where I had been around a lot of sick people. I want to help people before they get sick from lifestyle diseases. There is a great need to educate people about their food and lifestyle choices and I want to help people to see the options available to them.
I have also suffered from corporate burn out working in the corporate field for nearly two decades. I saw my health and love of life disappear during this time. I have found both of these again and I want to help people who are finding themselves on a similar path, with the pressures of modern living.
What problem are you trying to solve? (Or – what’s wrong with the status quo?)
People don’t take care of their health. Without your health you have nothing. I want people to put more plants on their plate because I want people to be around as long as possible to help the animals, and to live the life they dream of.
What’s your point of differentiation over your competitors?
I have a unique background with my own health journey, nearly two decades in the corporate world and also two degrees from the University of London, backed up with further training since. I am based on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland but all my consults are via skype. So my clients can be based anywhere around the world!
I want to empower people to make the right food and lifestyle choices so they don’t have to diet again. I don’t believe in diets because if you eat properly, there is no need to ever diet again. I also believe that there is more to health than what we put in our mouths, and my combination of food and wellness coaching guides people on the path to their optimal self.
I walk my talk and am authentic and genuine. You won’t find me telling my clients one thing, and doing something different. I don’t agree with that. But I’m also real. I like occasional treats and my weak spot is Loving Earth Salted Caramel Chocolate!
What’s the reaction to your product/service been like?
Fantastic! There is definitely a need for providing a service in this area, with experience to back up what you’re saying.
What is your most popular feature/product/service and why?
Helping people improve their diets has been my biggest and most popular service. People often come to me not knowing how to beat their sugar cravings in the afternoon for example, and I teach them what foods to eat and how to change their habits. The feedback I have got from people is so encouraging -more energy, better skin, sleeping better. It’s wonderful to see people taking steps to change their health.
Tell me about your journey to get to this point, what have you done?
I have two science degrees from the University of London and then I spent nearly two decades following graduation working in a corporate science role. It was hard work but I was well paid, travelled and stayed in nice hotels and worked from home a lot. Sounds good right ?! In 2011 I got sick and eventually 12 months later was diagnosed with post viral chronic fatigue. I ended up on a big healing journey, re-assessing every area of my life. I changed my diet and lifestyle and I undertook further study in nutrition and wellness because I was passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience with others.
From getting sick, it took me another 3 1/2 years to leave my comfortable job but by this stage I knew I had to. Corporate burn out had come and gone, and come back again and this time it was shouting louder than ever that I knew the path I had to take and this was the time to do it. I stepped out into the unknown. Leaving behind security in so many ways. But it’s been the best decision of this journey and there’s no looking back now.
What mistakes have you made?
That I did not follow my passion sooner. But in reality, life is a journey and my journey has been perfect. It has taken me where I needed to be so that I can now help people from my own experiences.
What have you learned, and what would you differently next time?
To take each day as it comes and if there is something you want to do, get out there and do it. We don’t come out alive at the end of this journey so grasp every opportunity that comes your way and embrace life. I wouldn’t do anything differently next time as it is what it is, and I love it !
What advice would you give to people thinking of entering this area?
Do it! There is enough room for all of us. I saw a question in a Facebook group recently about whether someone should study nutrition because they did not know if there would be a demand for their skills. There is a HUGE demand as people are slowly starting to wake up to their own health issues and the awareness that we don’t need to eat meat and dairy to be healthy (it’s actually quite the opposite!)
What type of customers do you attract?
My customers are all varied and I welcome that. Most are not vegan, but come to me to see how they can incorporate more vegetables and less meat into their diet. Some are vegetarians that are curious about becoming vegan, and some are unhealthy vegans that want to change the way that they eat. I love them all.
What features/expansion are you planning in the next 12 months?
There will be a healthy snacks ebook coming out at the end of the year and I will be looking at expanding my workshops next year into schools and workplaces. I am also looking to collaborate with local producers on the Sunshine Coast as I am a great believer in growing and eating local as much as possible, as well as supporting local businesses that provide good, quality products and services.
How did you get started online and what technical challenges did you have to overcome?
I started with a facebook page to slowly start building up my business. I was still working full time at this stage so I was working on my business in the evenings. From there I decided to hire a business mentor because I had no experience in business. I learnt so much and decided to get a website so I had a reference point to send people. By this stage I had written a couple of articles for online magazines and wellness websites and had enquiries to do more work. Having a website has allowed me to refer people to my site so they can see the work I do and the type of areas that I work in. I decided not to build the website myself because I have no technical no-how. But I am slowly learning the ropes so I can update the website and add other features. It’s been challenging and slow but I’m really pleased with my progress so far.
What did you want to be when you grow up?
A doctor, from the age of 6. I still held this dream until I was about 21. But it is funny how life works out and I am so glad to be working on this side of the fence!
What do you do for fun?
I am pretty active so I like to run and stand up paddle board as well as go camping as much as I can. I also love to hang out with my husband and fur family, Randall my rescued Jack Russell from South Africa and Gracie, my rescued whippet. I moved from the UK 10 years ago for a much more active lifestyle so I embrace it as often as I can.
How do you spread your message about veganism?
Day by day, by showing how fit, healthy and active you can be on a plant based diet
How do you think the Internet and Social Media has impacted on the Vegan World?
It has had a great impact with spreading awareness to people that otherwise would not be aware of the way animals are treated. Videos are easy to access as well as finding support groups. Sometimes being a vegan can be a lonely journey so it’s amazing to find groups so that you can connect with like minded people. A fantastic bonus as well is how easy it is to share recipes. Because good food wins everybody over right?!
Do you follow business influencers online (e.g. Blogs, Podcasts, etc) and if so who?
There are some great leaders in this field, and for me these are people like Rich Roll, No Meat Athlete, Brendan Brazier and Garth Davis who all show how fit and healthy you can be on a vegan diet. They are great ambassadors for the vegan cause.
You can find out more about at Eager for Life