Women's History Month: Heather Emerson
By: Heather Emerson
If you check out my LinkedIn page, you will see that I’ve been an honor student, a United States Air Force medic, a high school math teacher, a personal stylist to celebrities and NYC socialites, and a Harvard graduate student.
Oh, and I kicked all of that off by spending a year in jail for drug charges at age 19. That part is NOT on my LinkedIn page.
Not one or even the sum of these experiences can define who I am today, which is an entrepreneur, an eco-warrior, a public speaker, an avid learner, and a successful businesswoman. Instead, something else entirely shaped my intentions and, ultimately, my life – and it's something we all have in common.
In my 20's, I got a job at Whole Foods. A coworker turned me on to the benefits of eating an animal-free diet. At the time, I had little experience with a vegetarian lifestyle, and although it took some adjusting, I followed through and committed. I planned and meal-prepped, and I discovered so many delicious ways to be meat and dairy-free. And yes, there were amazing physical benefits to my new lifestyle – healthier hair, clearer complexion, more energy – but what changed my life was learning about the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet.
I began learning about the importance of not just healthy eating but healthy consumption. Most don't give a lot of thought to their food and its origin. Climate change doesn't typically come to mind when eating fajitas at your favorite Mexican food restaurant, right? But what if people did consume consciously – would it make a difference? Yes, absolutely.
Did you know?
Let's consider some facts. For example, did you know that animal agriculture is responsible for an estimated 18 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions worldwide? Or that raising just one pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water? That's equivalent to approximately 100 showers for a steak. Additionally, about one-third of global grain production is used to feed livestock bred for consumption.
I think James Cameron summed it up succinctly when he said, "This may surprise you, because it surprised me when I found out, but the single biggest thing an individual can do to combat climate change is to stop eating animals."
The more I learned about the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, the more I wanted to educate others. If everyone started small and swapped meats and processed foods for plant-based proteins just a few times a week, it would make a difference. And that's the point – making a difference. As conservationist Jane Goodall once said, "What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to
make." I don't advocate an all or nothing lifestyle. Instead, I advocate a thoughtful lifestyle.
So, in 2016, I co-founded a plant-based meal delivery service with my partner. He had watched me prep meals in mason jars and suggested we start doing it for others. With the help of a cashed-in 401K and a lot of hope, we started Prep To Your Door, which is a zero-waste food business serving Austin, TX. Our menu includes organic, farm-to-table, plant-based meals that are both gluten and dairy-free. And the best part? There's zero waste with our mason jar packaging.
Small Changes, Big Rewards.
Since starting Prep To Your Door, my public speaking career has flourished. I never knew how much I loved to talk in front of a crowd – or perhaps I’ve just found my voice. Either way, I've had the opportunity to successfully educate thousands on the importance of thoughtful consumption and its impact on life and the earth – and the future of both.
PREP TO YOUR DOOR
Like any change, baby steps are often the key to success. If the world's population replaced animal proteins a few times a week with less environmentally intensive foods like grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, the global impact would be measurable1. I believe small intentions can manifest big changes.
Although my journey to this place in life has been full of ups and downs, one constant has remained throughout – I chose my path. Even if it wasn’t always the best path, I learned from taking it. As we celebrate Women’s History Month this March, it’s important to remember all of the women who have contributed to change and how they were brave enough to walk their path.
My public speaking has allowed me to connect with amazing women who have also let their passion guide them to fulfillment and success. I’ve learned from them, and I’ve grown with them. Their support has been empowering and something I cherish.
Be Curious, Have a Conversation
As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that listening is a vital key to success. In my journey to educate others on the importance of mindful consumption, I’ve found that listening and hearing the thoughts and opinions of others isn’t an opportunity to disagree, it’s an opportunity to ask more questions and open yourself to understanding and growing in a new way.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and experience with you.