By Donna Loughlin

Growing up, Doug Evans had no idea what healthy eating was.

Raised on what he calls a “standard American diet” of processed foods, junk food and fast food, Doug was well into adulthood when he finally decided to make a change. In the span of just a few years, his mother died of stomach cancer, his father died of heart disease, his brother became obese and had a heart attack and his aunt had her feet amputated because of diabetes. She later died. This led to what he calls his “come to plants” moment in 1999. He was afraid that he was either genetically cursed or, as he puts it, “on a suicide mission” by continuing to eat toxic food.

“I thought my days were numbered,” Doug told me. “I thought my life could end at any time because of my genes.”

So overnight, he decided to become a vegan. Within two weeks, he took it a step further and became a raw vegan—and he’s remained so for the last 21 years.

Since going vegan, Doug—originally a successful graphic designer—has become a successful health and wellness food entrepreneur and a pioneer in the plant-based movement. In 2000, he co-founded a successful raw-food market in New York City called Organic Avenue. Later, he founded Juicero, a company that produced a wi-fi-enabled cold-pressed juicer. But his latest endeavor is taking his plant-based evangelism a step further.

These days, he is the world’s leading advocate of one of Earth’s simplest—and cheapest—superfoods: sprouts.

Doug has been growing his own sprouts for years, but only recently has he started to see them as the cornerstone of his daily diet. And he believes they could one day be a catalyst in solving food insecurity around the world — if only people knew how to grow and prepare them.

“You can literally get a pound of broccoli sprouts with a gallon of water,” he told me. “But if you were to grow it in a garden on traditional agriculture, it would take about 50 gallons of water over six months to grow mature broccoli. There are just so many benefits and we’re only scratching the surface.”

Doug is the author of The Sprout Book, which tells the story of his sprouting journey with tutorials on how to grow them and recipes and tips on how to build them into one’s everyday diet. But the first thing they need, he said, is motivation.

“Think about a registered dietician telling a patient what to eat after they come out of some heinous treatment like chemotherapy or surgery,” he said. “We have to get the conversation going and people have to be receptive to listen. So in some cases, you might have to let people hit their bottom. And when they do hit their bottom, you’ve got to hand them the sprout book and share with them all of the ways that they could change their lives for the better.”

To listen and subscribe to the Before IT Happened podcast, visit www.beforeithappened.com.