Social Impact Authors: How & Why Karla Farach de Athanasopoulos Is Helping To Change Our World

Social Impact Authors: How & Why Karla Farach de Athanasopoulos Is Helping To Change Our World
An Interview With Edward Sylvan  | Authority Magazine: Published 7/20

My main goal with the book is to empower children to understand the impact of making the right choices. To help them understand from an early age that junk foods and processed foods are detrimental to their health. I want to empower them to make conscious decisions by themselves. I believe in children and I also believe in teaching them right from wrong, they are more capable than they are given credit for! They can make the right choices if given the opportunity.

As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karla Farach de Athanasopoulos.

Karla Farach de Athanasopoulos was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up eating real food. Processed, sugary options were always the third or fourth choice. She has been passionate about nutrition and wellness all her life and believes in the importance of creating consciousness about healthy eating from a very young age. Her passion for good food grew as she married and became the mother of two boys.

After years of reading to her own children, Karla knew that a picture book would be the most powerful, playful way to reach children with the important message of wellness. Her first book, The Adventures of Veggieman: Food Fight!, was written to create awareness about the detrimental effect of junk food and how choices impact health and long-term wellbeing.

Always reading, Karla is a curator of information: she casts a wide net and questions everything, pulling together expert opinions and distilling science into usable information for families. Her greatest goal is to have children be involved in their own superhero story of health. She is a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and has received certification in other aspects of nutrition. She also holds a Master’s degree in business.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

was born in the Dominican Republic as the only girl in my family, sandwiched between two fabulous brothers. My father’s Lebanese/Palestinian heritage and my Mother’s Dominican/Spanish background exposed us to different and more ethnic foods, including Mediterranean dishes. Growing up in a Caribbean setting also made our diet very interesting.

At home, foods were cooked from scratch every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner using real food ingredients. No packaged or processed junk foods. Beans, rice, fruits, veggies, soups, yucca, plantains, potatoes, chicken, eggs- you name it, just normal foods. I remember that fast foods such as Wendy’s and KFC were considered a weekend “treat” so we wouldn’t consume these junk foods very often (thank God!). At the time no one really knew that fast foods were junk foods and that they were so detrimental to health.

When I moved to the US for my studies, I gained weight and I just couldn’t understand the reason why since I was never a big eater. I was also exposed to the obesity epidemic that was already on the rise in the US. After I graduated with my BS in Marketing Sciences, I decided to start pursuing informal studies in nutrition, health, and alternative therapies. I was just fascinated by the topic and its influence in health. As a child, my Father’s love for knowledge and reading gave us curiosity and the good habit of researching, reading, and constantly learning, also we were always exposed to the topic of health because my father was a Chemical Engineer involved in health and pharmaceutical industry. All that exposure while growing up unconsciously moved me to explore alternative ways of achieving health. My dream has always been to do something that will help people heal physically and emotionally and provide solutions for people to better their lives. I have been given the opportunity to do exactly that for children.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

I have always been a good reader from a young age, especially when I was a teenager. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho taught me to follow through, follow your dreams, and trust your intuition. Only that connection to your heart and intuition can take you where you ought to be. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand taught me about the power of believing in yourself and the role of our mind in our own existence.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that? Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

My main goal with the book is to empower children to understand the impact of making the right choices. To help them understand from an early age that junk foods and processed foods are detrimental to their health. I want to empower them to make conscious decisions by themselves. I believe in children and I also believe in teaching them right from wrong, they are more capable than they are given credit for! They can make the right choices if given the opportunity.

Also, I want to “continue” the conversation. This is a conversation that needs to be present. The American way of eating and the foods that big companies have been allowed to and are incentivized to bring to us are creating an obesity epidemic among children and adults. Obesity-related health conditions include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues and an array of preventable metabolic diseases that shouldn’t exist among children. Nineteen percent of children and adolescents in the US are considered obese. I think society also needs to take responsibility for what is happening. We have allowed the government and big food companies to decide what our children should be eating. Big food companies are not thinking of your children’s health. They are only making sure what they produce is cheap so they can make lots of money while our children pay the price with their health. I believe in creating awareness around the problems that come from consuming junk food and moving away from eating real foods. This not only has impacts on the physical body but also affects other layers of psychological and mental health.

By creating the Veggieman series and www.veggieman.com I am looking to provide parents and caregivers with tools and information to move to a healthier lifestyle.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

“The Adventures of Veggieman: Food Fight” is an epic battle between junk foods and Veggieman, who fights alongside his healthy food troops. It is really one big story that has many different scenes meant to inspire a sense of value towards natural foods. I think the whole story is fabulous.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

Reading about and seeing the state of children’s health, seeing obese children walking around and consuming their lives, understanding that metabolic syndromes such as diabetes in children is on the rise. Knowing that these issues could be preventable through lifestyle decisions such as eating a healthier diet made me take the first, small step towards helping.

Reading to my children everyday was just part of our lives and still is. I love books, especially children’s books. We even have an extensive children’s book library at home! I knew that to communicate certain concepts and messages to children, it was necessary to talk to them in their own language, and what better way than with a picture book? Let’s give children the right information and let them decide on their own.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I have one anecdote. I have a friend at my gym that was always complaining that his daughter ate so badly and that she didn’t want to eat anything other than bread and pasta and junk food. The minute I published “The Adventures of Veggieman: Food Fight” I gave it to him to read to his daughter. After reading the book to her a couple of times, he told me that she started eating broccoli and beans! He couldn’t believe it. That is a huge change that will affect her life forever. Introducing veggies to her diet will go a long way.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

I really believe that overall, we all need to care. There are so many movements currently going on in our world. I know all those topics are important, but ask yourself, what is more important than the health of our future generations? The health of our children is the most important. I don’t see enough advocacy or enough groups behind making sure our children and our society stay healthy. Is not about exercising only; yes, exercise is good and necessary, but our children are not becoming obese because they don’t exercise. They are becoming obese because they are overeating the wrong stuff. Do you think children will become obese or overweight from eating too many vegetables or legumes? Of course not!

Why don’t we go after the big profits of big food companies that are feeding our kids junk? These companies are allowed to “influence” policies that only benefit them, they are not taxed enough, and they don’t have enough regulations to make sure their foods are healthy. Why are we not doing anything against the obesogenic environment created by the lack of regulations? The only ones benefiting are the big food companies and the industries supported by them. Society is wracked with social issues that ultimately won’t matter if the future members of that society are dying early.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is about motivating others to move towards a vision and goal. You need to be able to communicate creatively in order to motivate others to work towards your vision. Because it is impossible to accomplish things alone, you must know how to delegate and make sure the core values of your goals are followed and maintained.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. I wish someone would have told me to start 10 years earlier! :)
  2. Beginnings are lonely and there is never enough time.
  3. Focus, Focus, Focus!
  4. Money is never enough.
  5. Believe in your vision, believe in yourself.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Cartoonist Allen Saunders and the Beatles are quoted with saying, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans”.

I read this quote when I was younger, and it has always stayed with me. It had such an impact on both the things I decided to do and the things I decided not to do. It even influenced the type of people I decided to have as friends.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

There are two people I follow whose work I admire greatly. First is Dr. Robert Lusting who is a Pediatric Endocrinologist doing a lot of research on how metabolic syndromes affect obesity in children. Second is the Medical Medium, Anthony William. Even though he is not a doctor, he has brought a lot of insights and new knowledge on health and disease into the world from spiritual inspiration.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

https://www.veggieman.com and @veggieman_kids on Instagram

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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    From Best-Selling, Award-Winning Author, Karla Farach

    The Adventures of Veggieman: Food Fight! Is a Revolutionary Children’s Book that Promotes Healthy Eating for Kids. 

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