Behind The Kitchen w/ Pas Niratbhand of The Seed Experience Julie June 17, 2015 Behind the Kitchen, Events, Health, Lifestyle, NYC Happenings This weekend plant based and veg curious people are brought together for a weekend filled with great food, interesting speakers, and events and so much more at the annual The Seed Experience. Before we indulge ourselves with nut-based cheeses, vegan macaroons, and more vegan treats, lets get to know the founder behind the 4th annual food and lifestyle expo, Pas Niratbhand. Here’s my Behind The Kitchen interview with Pas. What brought you to the plant based world and community? I became interested in the plant-based lifestyle for three reasons: business, health, and compassion. Before The Seed, my original profession was as a graphic designer. I worked as the Director of Events and Creative Services as Schecky’s Media producing many events for them. After some time there, I realized I didn’t want to sit behind the desk anymore. Fortunately though, through this job I connected with many great people. One friend came to me with the idea of starting a Vegan event company and I was interested. Even though I wasn’t vegan at the time, I was interested in planning and running my own events so I went for it. After a successful first run with The Seed, I knew I had found something. And after meeting and learning so much from our incredible and inspiring speakers and vendors, it all began making sense to me. In terms of my health, I came to the US from Thailand weighing 138 pounds. After grad school here, I weighed 170. I had never eaten like this before and my body was not used to these foreign foods and the abundance. I also became very sick 7 or 8 years ago and I knew it was related to my new diet here in America. Until I became vegan, it was difficult to lose the weight and get healthy again. After switching to this lifestyle, I’ve felt my best ever. First it was my health that improved, and then I got back down to my original weight, and then I found the connection between what we eat and animals. Now I understand they’re not just here for our consumption, but instead so much more. What were some of the original challenges planning an event like the seed? There were a lot of challenges. First was the content. Since it is vegan/plant based, one challenge was who exactly were we trying to reach? We wanted to reach both the vegan community as well as the veg-curious people, but it’s obviously harder to reach omnivores through the term vegan. So we decided to change it to “plant-based” in hopes of our event seeming less intimidating. We want people to know that The Seed is an event for all walks of lives, no matter your diet. How do you choose your vendors and speakers? When choosing vendors, I like reaching out to the new and great products on the market. All this vegan cheese is getting better and better. And the vegan French macaroons are amazing. I like to support the local and small businesses of course, but at the same time, we need the support of large businesses as well. We select a good balance of both. What do you personally like about running your own events now? Truthfully I thought this job would allow me to sunbathe in central park all day, but definitely not the case. I like that I’m creating something and that it’s mine. I do want to make a difference, and I’m dedicated to that. I don’t make money like I did when working for other people. But this is what I believe in and that makes all the difference. I’m making the change. I’m being the change. You can’t whine and complain and do nothing and expect change. It’s so rewarding when people come up to me at events and tell me about how The Seed has changed their lives. Those are the shining moments. How has social media helped The Seed? It has its ups and downs. Social media has changed a lot recently. I do see the impact it can make. The first year we gained a few thousand followers and with every event we gain more. But I don’t think it has the best content. It’s also hard to track how likes correlate to ticket sales? Ok so people like a picture on instagram, but did they come to the event? It’s very difficult to track. I believe word of mouth and reaching out directly to the community has been our biggest support. The organization Meet Up has helped us tremendously. What do you think about celebrities like Beyonce becoming Vegan? I applaud anyone starting a vegan business. For her to start a vegan business, it’s great because now more people will learn about this lifestyle. Of course I hear the arguments from activists that say this is not good, because people are not making the connection to animal. But I disagree, and think we have to start somewhere. And I don’t think the animals care what the reason is you’ve stopped eating them. So yes I’m happy she’s doing something plant based, it’ll be a trend and there will be more followers, which makes it easier to have those conversations and explain how easy it is to adapt to a plant based lifestyle. What are you favorite ways to stay healthy around New York? My favorite place to eat is peace food café, and chop’t has great vegan salads, I also make a lot of my own food. But I can easily find something on a menu everywhere. It’s absolutely become easier to be vegan in NYC. A lot of my friends aren’t vegan and it’s easy to still go out with them. When I go eat with friends, I call ahead and they’re always happy to accommodate. Be sure to purchase your tickets for The Seed Experience. And for being a loyal Eat Up New York reader, The Seed is offering us a 50% discount on tickets with the discount code ‘proseed50’. Hope to see you all there!