Ed. Note: I recently met Alexis Fox at the Green Monday Forum: The Future Of Greenovation and was so inspired by her passion to help people be healthier that I immediately requested a one-on-one. Below, I talk to her about Lighter, the visionary platform she co-founded with ultra-marathoner and nutritionist Micah Risk that reaches people in 130 countries, why she is committed to the plant-based cause and her thoughts on Hong Kong.
What is Lighter?
Lighter is a powerful platform that helps the world eat better. We take the recommendations of food leaders, be they health care providers, professional athletes and other nutrition experts, and we help customize them for their audience, offering users personalized meal plans, shopping lists and, in 22 metro locations in the US, an integration with Instacart so they can get groceries delivered to their door.
What problem is Lighter solving for?
We are solving the age old question of: what should I eat today? Broad nutrition recommendations are a start but what people really want are personalized, specific answers to this question. We answer with shopping lists and meal plans. People have different cooking skill levels, different appliances in their kitchen, different levels of comfort with being in the kitchen…We have to be real with people’s actual situations.
What makes Lighter different than a run-of-the-mill meal plan app?
The first thing that’s different is the way we think of ourselves. We are able to customize on the provider side and the user side. We are not the ones ‘convincing’ people, we are a tool that makes other experts’ nutrition advice more effective. We enable these experts to have a bigger impact on the people whose lives they touch and to answer the question for of what their clients should eat with specificity.
How did you come to choose a plant-based approach?
There’s a global movement towards reducing meat consumption/animal foods in people’s everyday diet. Our goal as a company is to support that. People don’t have to eat ‘Lighter’ every day. When someone decides to reduce the number of animals they are consuming for whatever reason, be it animal welfare, personal health or the environment, Lighter gives them an answer to the question: what should I eat?
How do you choose your food leaders?
We are lucky that we were already in a community of leaders in this space from the beginning. A lot of it happened very naturally with conversations from within our network. Today, we are fortunate in that people now approach us. We look at how many lives they are touching with their work. We also value an alignment with our Lighter philosophy and our green ethics.
What are some of your notable food leaders?
We have an all-star roster. Some highlights include Dr Michael Greger, author of How Not To Die, still a Top 100 title in Amazon a year after it was first published; Kathy Freston, a personal friend and best-selling plant-based author of The Lean; famous personal trainer Marco Borges, (famous clients include Beyonce and Jay-Z) and founder of 22 Days Nutrition; and David Carter, former NFL player and vegan advocate.
You were recently in Hong Kong. What did you think?
I’m from New York City and yet I was blown away by the size of the buildings. Hong Kong has a similar energy to NYC so I felt right at home. However, the first night I was there, after spending the day learning about the rising meat consumption in Hong Kong and China and the accompanying rising health problems (mostly diseases that we associated with following a traditional Western diet), I felt quite discouraged. It made me feel like the problems I have been working to solve got so much bigger. However, after spending the week with Green Monday, and seeing the incredible work that they do to help raise awareness about reducing meat consumption and the solutions they provide to those looking to transition to a more plant-based diet, I feel incredible hopeful for the future.
You taught leadership at Emerson College. What advice do you have to share with budding entrepreneurs?
Leadership is a mindset, and an energy. This idea that we have to wait for permission to act differently and do things differently, this is something we have to unlearn. We have to understand the power that we have as individuals and that requires unlearning lessons that we have heard throughout our lives that limit us, lessons about how life has to be a certain way and lessons that forces us into boxes. These are invisible boundaries that keep us contained. We need to start building the world we want to create.
As told to Sonalie Figueiras; this interview has been condensed for clarity and concision.
About Alexis Fox:
Alexis Fox is co-founder and Chief Empowerment Office at Lighter. She has spent her whole adult life trying to solve the same problem: how to make the world eat better for health reasons and for the planet. The only thing that’s changed throughout the years is her strategy. Trained as a lawyer, she had hoped to fight for better food policy through the law. Eventually she went into public policy to help make the laws. When she discovered the intersection of entrepreneurship and technology and saw the scalability that the internet could achieve, she co-founded Lighter.
All images courtesy of Alexis Fox and Lighter.