plants for the people: danny seo
1. Tell us about your journey from the beginning. As a young man, what inspired you and what were your thoughts/feelings?
I share the same birthday as Earth Day. It’s a little unusual because Earth Day isn’t exactly a holiday like Christmas or Halloween. It’s a politically charged day; almost sad because it highlights things like global warming, deforestation and the destruction of the biodiversity of the planet.
But having this birthday on Earth Day did inspire me to care deeply about the world around us. On my 12th birthday, I decided to forgo gifts and asked my friends to join an organization I was starting (this was 1989). Those six friends and myself soon became the largest teenage environmental nonprofit in the country.
My teenage years as an activist taught me so much about the simple idea that you really can be the difference that makes the difference. And I think the work I do today—the magazine, the TV show, the charity work—all goes back to the simple idea of wanting to inspire others to do the right thing.
2. Who inspires you now?
I get inspiration from everywhere and anywhere! But, I find the most inspiration from talking to actual readers and viewers who share their own commentary, struggles to eat healthy, or combatting social issues in their communities. It helps me understand who my audience is and how I can deliver information to them that best helps them. Everything I do isn’t for me; the star of my magazine and show is the viewer and reader.
3. What’s one tip to help people eat more sustainably?
I’ve been a vegetarian for 28 years now. I started when I was 12, and it was the easiest and best decision I ever made. For me, a plant-based diet is like a no-brainer now. If you want to make the biggest impact and not start a giant nonprofit movement: just change your diet.
4. Describe for us your mindset now.
TIRED! Ha. Hopeful.
5. What’s one thing you want to be remembered for?
I try not to think about legacy markers or long-term goals. There’s a motto my friend once said when we were traveling through India, “the party is now.”
6. You’re stranded on a desert island with only two items. What would they be?
Why the hell am I stranded on a desert island?! Can’t it be a dessert island? If so, a fork and a takeout container. And cold almond milk.
7. Describe a meal that sparks a happy memory.
After a long flight to Seoul, I took my parents to my favorite Japanese restaurant for dinner. It was interesting to take my parents around their home country and show them my favorite places to eat and see.
8. What’s the theme song of your life?
I’m Too Sexy, by Right Said Fred.
9. Funniest thing that happened to you in a restaurant.
I was wearing the exact same outfit as the wait staff. Literally, same colored denim shirt, pants—even style of shoes. I went up to use the bathroom and got stopped for help so many times! When I sat back down, someone came over and was like “dude, is this your first day? Why are you sitting with the guests?”
10. If you were an animal, what creature would you be?