Darin Olien Plant Based

Darin Olien
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Juliet: [2:26] Welcome to The Ready State Podcast, Darin, we are super excited to have you. Thank you for being here.

Darin: [2:31] I am stoked to be here with you guys. 

Kelly: [2:33] So we have so much to talk about. I mean food is the third rail and you are what we think is the best representation of choice around food quality and how much you spend teaching people about food and nutrient dense foods. But I have to — just a couple of questions, first off. Can you eat in your style and still be addicted to popcorn like my wife?

Darin: [3:03] Hundred percent. I love a good popcorn, are you kidding? Come on. 

Kelly: [3:09] It’s just one of the things that sometimes gets lost in this conversation. I’m like carnivore, but there’s no popcorn in carnivore, what are you going to do?

Juliet: [3:15] Yeah. A lot of people have asked me, what do you follow? Do you follow a Paleo diet? And I was like well, if a Paleo diet includes popcorn, then yes. 

Darin: [3:24] Well, you think corn got too close to a fire at some point. Sure. 

Kelly: [3:31] Okay. So we’ve heard you described as the Indiana Jones of superfoods. You and I and Juliet have all hung out at our mutual friend the Lairds, Laird and Gabby’s house. You have pulled me from the bottom of the pool on more than one occasion. So I’m familiar with your story and how you got here. But how did you get here? Give us just a high-level background about where you grew up, like school, and what got you to this place because your teaching is pretty incredible.

Darin: [4:03] Well, thank you. And no, you do a pretty good damn job in that pool, Mr. Kelly. Oh, I should say Dr. Kelly.

Kelly: [4:12] I sink well, that’s true.

Darin: [4:12] Or you do really good at the bottom of the pool. But yeah, I mean listen, I think without trying to go too far back I have to mention it because that imprinted me. And because epidemiologically I believe expressions and life and obviously pre-life, our ancestors informed us, as well as our life, obviously, imprinted and informed us. So I was born two months early, premature, lungs underdeveloped, hyperactive thyroid. They were worried about all kinds of things. I was in an incubator for the first three weeks of my life. I had a 50-50 chance of surviving. Long story short, my imprint was very clearly this is dangerous, I am vulnerable, and I might not be here. So that started my kind of childhood with a lot of weird stuff, right? So I had like I said, I had a resting heart rate for a few years of 120 beats per minute literally upon waking. So —

Juliet: [5:36] Wow. I had no idea.

Darin: [5:38] Yes. Yes. So there were a lot of strange things going back and forth. I couldn’t pay attention in school. My mom — I had all these allergy tests. I had a patch over my eye. I couldn’t kind of keep up to people, but yet I was bored out of my mind. So there was a lot of stuff. And so at 13, I jumped into my first cleanse. And listen, I grew up — so this kind of sets the tone for what I’m doing now, which I didn’t realize until later in my life, was I come from cowboys, farmers. My grandfather sold tractors. My grandmother came over from Norway on a covered wagon, fed Indians. So that was in the plains. Farmers, ranchers. My dad was an ag professor at the University of Minnesota teaching business to farmers. So that was kind of what was going on.

But I was a regular kid, right? I was an athlete all my life. But at 13, for whatever reason, the Minneapolis Star Tribune had this diet in there that was the grapefruit diet. And I just started eating because on some level I knew that — you know, and listen, I was medicating myself. I was drinking about five old fashioned bottles of Coke a day, just as this normal speed that was helping me kind of deal with just this sense of kind of processing in my brain and in my body and in my life. So I was medicating on Coca-Cola. And so when I did this cleanse, it was the first sense that I was like holy shit, I’m now experimentalizing an effect of food directly into a change, making a positive change in my life. 

So then of course I just became a regular kid and picked up my first dumbbell at 16 and just jumped from gaining 50, 60 pounds in the next couple years of muscle. And then focusing on athletics. And then it was a career-ending back injury my sophomore year starting in football in Minneapolis where I switched majors and I then started studying physiology, nutrition, kinesiology, kind of this whole gamut, and got my bachelor’s in phys nutrition. So that injury catapulted me into the discovery that I love this stuff. I am fascinated by the body. 

And then I started working with a physiologist, Dr. — well, Dale Greenwald in Boulder when I moved from Minneapolis to Colorado and we started working with people. Actually, Kelly, it was a whole seven years of my life studying movement and helping people to move correctly after debilitating injuries, surgeries, or accidents. So I started watching how people move and started applying that kinesiology, kind of okay, well, if that’s moving like this and this is turned off and that’s not working. And so that was a really fun part of my life. But then I started studying independently with some functional medicine doctors. That wasn’t even a term back then. And then it started kind of giving me this groundswell of — I think one of the first things I read was, oh, cinnamon, taking a teaspoon of cinnamon kind of helps your blood sugar. And I was like what the fuck. Like really? Like you know? And then realizing that plants and medicine have always been there. If you’ve sucked on a lozenge, that’s plant medicine. If you’ve drank a tea, that’s plant medicine. So then it started turning this kind of credible synergy or alchemy between plants and our humanness, which then I started just digging into that and digging in. 

But at the same time, I was fascinated with this intersection between kind of watching and working with certain people and then seeing that certain people were just recovering infinitely better. I was then — started culminating into this intersection between the mind, the cognition, the spiritual component of how someone would take care of themselves, how would they recover. So I got a master’s in psychology just to kind of understand that a little bit. And then I just continued to formulate. And then really, to kind of summarize the whole damn story is that the more I started kind of understanding research, I ultimately don’t believe in scientism, like that extreme science is the only way. if that was the case, then 10,000 years of traditional Chinese medicine and 20,000 years of Ayurveda medicine and that kind of use of tens of thousands of generations would be completely unsubstantiated, which is not the case. 

So I just got fascinated with the intersection between some of the powerful plants. But then as a blue collar guy living in Minnesota, I just needed to go jump on a plane and meet the farmers and see how they were doing it because I’d just gotten frustrated with people not understanding, or what I perceived people not understanding, in the food and supplement world of marketing something and then not truly understanding it, or understanding how it worked, or understanding are the farmers doing it right. And are we doing it right based on what that plant, that botanical, or those compounds are. 

And so that turned on this Indiana Jones of superfoods, superfood hunting. That was just a term that came up a decade ago in a few business articles that were written. But it was really the innocence of I just need to know. And to me, sitting behind the research isn’t enough. It’s to show up and then really find out. And what you really find out is there’s so much more science that’s not on Google that is sitting there in the fields and in the houses and in the sharing of story than anything else. And so this kind of the archeological ethno-botanal side, which I would never say I am one of those, but that part of the story has started to express itself in being extremely necessary in the betterment of not only the people that you are working, the betterment of the processing so that the food or the botanical or the medicinal plant was more powerful and it can actually do the thing that was meant to be done by it. So anyway, that’s the — sorry. I didn’t mean to go off that long.

Juliet: [13:23] That’s okay.

Darin: [13:23] But that sets the table of kind of what and why I got into this. And it’s forever a journey and a learning process.

Kelly: [13:34] This is true. One of the things I hear though is really interesting and certainly sort of a hallmark or a standard for a lot of the people we’re talking to this season, is that they discovered food or making choices about their food as a way of self-medicating. People were trying to solve a problem. And you know, when you hear cleanse, I hear the word elimination diet, right? I mean you know, basically we’re fasting and all of a sudden, you’re eating one thing and you’re just cutting out everything else. And people are feeling for the first time this relationship between food and fueling and cognition and output and skin and body fat. And I think that’s really notable and interesting that you sort of set out and kind of stumbled into something’s not working. So is it working? I mean aren’t we plant based today? How are we doing as a culture because I can tell you that if I was going to give us a grade, we’re failing people with our current food system. Would you agree?

Darin: [14:37] Oh God. I mean yeah, that’s a big, big topic. For sure, of course we’re — I mean the genesis, which is, again, the genesis of why I travel was to help, to understand the plant, to understand the growing, to understand the use of it. And now it’s just become big business. And so of course there’s no regenerative aspect to the food. There’s just — the soil has become a medium to which it’s holding up the plant. It’s therefore not delivering much of any nutrients. 

So it’s the same mentality as our kind of germ theory, American Medical Association, as we’re catching something, and it’s not looking at the environment that’s making it stronger, the choices we’re making that’s making it stronger, similar to that of well, how are we growing our food. And the multi cropping and the ability to do that. I mean this is such a big topic. But it’s clear that the research shows that yields are not improving by our agricultural practices, without a doubt. And they’re going down and down and down. 

And these poor farmers with glyphosate and GMOs and all of that stuff now have a noose around their head. And I don’t even mean that by exaggeration. They’re literally — it’s one of the highest suicide rates of virtually almost any population in the world, and that’s of the farmer. And that saddens me to my core, literally, because that’s where I come from, and I think where we all come from. So yeah, so those practices, largely, and they’ve known that from the early 1900s. In 1930, they set out, the government itself set out to say do a nutritional test. And they knew. They knew back then that 99 percent of the nutrients were stripped. In the 1930s. So —

Kelly: [16:48] You mean that Frankentomato was not a Frankentomato?

Juliet: [16:50] Yeah. You mean Special K?

Darin: [16:52] Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. So that’s not even — we’re not even getting into the processed food. That’s just — that’s the food that’s the “real food” that they were creating back then, and the way that they were doing it had stripped the micronutrients. And if you want to go all the way down to the source of most debilitation or degeneration in the body, and that’s micronutrients. If you don’t have the electrolytes, if you don’t have the minerals, guess what? You don’t have the foundation to build on vitamins, to build on the enzymatic activity, and the enzymatic activity’s the workforce of the body. Not to mention impacting the microbiome with whatever weird ass food you’re putting in. 

So the foundation of us as a human species on this planet has been altered for now approaching 100 years plus. So we’re running around now and you have to kind of look at food a little differently. You can’t sit there and just make these grand statements of, well, this is how they used to eat back then. This is not appropriate. We are all nutrient deprived, essentially, unless we get back to growing as much food as possible at our homes, in our homes, and in microgrids of our regions, our cities, or whatever. We have to decentralize our food production. We have to because that is our medicine. Without a doubt. If you want micronutrients, you have to go to food first. 

Juliet: [18:32] Yeah. And I will get to this later, but interestingly this is really coming to the forefront of the news and everybody’s mind during this whole COVID crisis, which is when we’re recording this. But we’ll get to that later. You know, in this journey, and I think you know Darin, that the whole point of this season is to bring in people who we respect and love and approach nutrition in one way or another that has worked well for them. At what point in your journey did you switch to plant based? And what does that actually mean? How would you define plant based? And have you continuously been plant based since that time?

Kelly: [19:11] Because let me just set this up. In college, Juliet was a rower. And she was theoretically a vegetarian for a second. And that meant like a mocha and a bagel for lunch.

Juliet: [19:22] I ate a lot of Red Vines.

Kelly: [19:23] Pasta.

Juliet: [19:24] A lot of Red Vines during that time.

Kelly: [19:24] Right? So just explain all of that and give that some context because I think it could use some lifting.

Juliet: [19:32] Yes.

Darin: [19:34] Yeah. Well, at first, we’ll set the stage saying I ultimately believe, and this fuels the foundation, I ultimately believe that the inherent ability for the body to heal itself and the body is always striving for optimum performance. I inherently believe that on the deepest level. And so the more interaction I’ve had with very powerful plants from 40 different countries on mountaintops and in jungles, the more I realize the power of that interaction between humans and plants and microbes and the whole deal. So also, it’s also connected to where we’re living and all of that stuff. 

But sticking to the plant side of it, first off, in the research I was looking, you know, bodybuilding and training for football and doing all this shit. Of course, I was eating crazy amounts of protein and calories and all of this stuff. And I was having some very serious digestive problems and acid reflux. I was just so uncomfortable. And then I’m going back to kind of my physiology stuff and there was this one part that I was reading. I’m like wow, that makes a lot of sense that when you take in a protein, which largely, if you look at harvesting a protein or finding a protein, it’s default. If it’s from an animal or whatever, it’s hard to find that. So it takes a lot of energy. So therefore, within the body, the body once it has to break down whatever it is you’re eating or flesh of another being, it’s a lot of energy to do that. So therefore, these amino acids that it has to break it down to are so precious. And the thing that stuck out the most for me is that the body inherently has a recycling ability for amino acids. So when you’re sloughing off cells, which we’re doing all the time, and we’re breaking down cell walls and the protein and hormones and all of that stuff that the proteins are inherently a part of, and so much more, the body doesn’t want to get rid of. 

So there was a recycling part that wasn’t in the equation that I was seeing. And I’m like oh, wait a minute, so all the protein that I’ve consumed, I’m not necessarily just getting rid of it all. I’m recycling and I’m using it. So I started questioning the need for the amount. And therefore, and certainly, the digestive system has to be kind of spot on in order for the hydrochloric acid and the protease enzymes and all of this stuff to work efficiently to break down all that flesh and all that stuff. So I just started like, okay, well, let’s put this athletic thing to test. And so I said well — and I slowly started backing away. And I think it was fish was the last kind of ditch for me. And I finally let it go and then I just cranked up my workouts, right? And so I was doing biathlons at the time, like swimming and running and lifting, and I just cranked it. And it was a different feeling in my body that I was like wow, I have energy where I didn’t feel it before, and I’m recovering from this ridiculous amount of work. 

So that was the impetus. And that was maybe 12 years ago. And guys, I honestly would ask myself every week, day, for years, hey, do you need, do you want protein do you want this, do you want that, you smell that, do you want it. Like literally asking my body, not my mind, not a philosophy, asking my body. And it just slowly started to turn off. Now also, I was putting myself in the position of kind of being in front of and consuming some of the greatest and nutrient dense foods in the world. So where I was seeing a deficiency in — some of the obviously a lot of plant-based people or vegans or vegetarians eat like complete crap. So I was the opposite. I was surrounding myself with the best sources of spirulinas and moringas and obviously eating organic and biodynamic and farmers markets. And that was my trajectory and that’s where I was going. 

So all of the hey, you’re not getting enough B12, I’m like, well, that’s easy. You don’t need that much. It’s actually not that much that you need. And then science is showing that there’s a lot of actually plant-based foods that are showing up with that. And certainly, some of the exciting ones now are food based spirulinas that are having huge amounts of B12, B6, and so on. So I would always go back to the food source of what I needed, what I think I needed in order to complete my kind of eating protocol. So I would, the more exposure to superfoods — so for example, even now with COVID, so I’m like, okay, it is shown and the work all the way to Dr. Otto Warburg, high doses of Vitamin C, where I’m like well, okay he was using ascorbic acid with great results. And even now China’s studying it. As of right now, they’re doing clinical substantiation on high dose Vitamin C. 

So I would just go, my mentality was like, okay, well, why don’t I go to one of the greatest sources of Vitamin C as a plant-based and then with all its co-factors. So I would just go back to one of the great camu camu berries out of the Amazon where I would just use that as my protocol. So now I’m getting the co-factors, the enzymes, the minerals, the other compounds, the other 400 compounds that are in that food. And that’s the basis of how I would create my plant-based journey. I’m just turning on all of the access to this stuff. And it was something that once I got injured playing football, I just made a clear decision in myself and my health that I would never, under any circumstances, skimp on my food because that was literally medicine and I just knew it. And that ultimately healed myself through movement therapy and through nutrition. 

And so it went all the way back to that injury, healing myself, and then coming up to this day. So that’s the foundation of how I look at plant-based eating. And it’s just such a generalized term. But it always goes back to even finding this baruka nut out of Brazil. Well, it’s the most nutrient dense nut in the world. So why would I choose to eat another nut? Plus, it’s better than any nut I’ve ever eaten in my life. So why not just add that to all my salads instead of an inferior almond? So that’s my mentality. I would just like go to the pool and hang out with the best people on the planet. Same thing. I’d come home, eat the best food possible. So that’s my different approach to plant-based eating.

Juliet: [27:38] So I love the way you’re thinking about that. And I don’t think many people think that way, right? Just trying to actually find the — not a nutrient dense food, but the most nutrient dense food. I know Kelly and I read in the last year or so that the average American only eats between four and five different kinds of vegetables, which of course are the sort of typical subjects like broccoli, carrot, onion and I don’t know what the fifth one is, but —

Kelly: [28:02] Tomato.

Juliet: [28:02] Tomato.

Kelly: [28:04] Not a vegetable.

Juliet: [28:04] Which isn’t really a vegetable. But I think that’s such an interesting approach, that you are going for the most nutrient dense foods. You know, the almond versus the — I forgot the name of the nut you just mentioned. 

Darin: [28:17] Yeah. The barukas versus the almonds. Yeah.

Kelly: [28:23] It seems like we have plenty of macronutrients in this society. And yet if I just take a snapshot of the landscape, it’s all about supplementation, right? Like that somehow, I think even intrinsically we appreciate that maybe we’re not getting all of the micronutrients that we’re after or should be after. And plus, all the alchemy that you sort of speak to, all the co-factors. We know right now is that the revolution in performance nutrition is whole foods and diverse whole foods. Like watch how the best Tour de France teams are fueling right now and you’re like whoa. I mean it’s really remarkable, the density of whole foods. And there’s not a powder in there. There’s not a vitamin on top of that. It’s really remarkable and sounds maybe the basis of sort of your superfood, super life nutrition strategy.

Darin: [29:22] Yeah. Exactly. And that’s where it’s like, listen, I’ve been humbled so many times where you’re in the jungle and you’ve got a machete and you’re whacking off the vine and you’re drinking out of the vine and it happens to be one of the greatest immune plants and compounds in the world. And then you realize — then you go back to the research and you’re like  yeah, there’s freaking 30 alkaloids, there’s 35 different antioxidants. You’re like holy shit. And so, you know, reductionism has its place. There is a reducing of things to active compounds. A great example is curcumin, high dose curcumin definitely can deal with inflammation, acute inflammation and systemic inflammation infinitely more than —

Kelly: [30:17] You’re talking about turmeric, right, or the active compound in turmeric?

Darin: [30:19] Yeah. Yeah. So infinitely more than turmeric itself because it’s — but you have turmerones in there that — it’s another huge compound that are neurogenic. So it turns on brain derived neurotropic factors. You have all of these things that go on. And curcumin, hell, an apple has 300 active compounds in it. So I always use that apple a day keeps the doctor away. which my interpretation of that is your whole foods have a synergy, an alchemy that you cannot manufacture, you cannot reproduce. Your pleomorphic effect, your synergistic effect that happens with that interaction between that food and your body is so infinite on a microlevel, a macrolevel, an information level. 

I mean we’re light beings. We’re batteries. So we’re integrating. And again, this whole thing, superfoods and all of that stuff is also an interaction between everything else. So superfoods and all of that stuff is not the end all, be all. It’s one spoke in the wheel that’s equally as important as getting sleep and drinking good water and moving your body and all of this other stuff. But I think the idea that supplementation is going to take you out of — is like showing up with a squirt gun to a forest fire.

Kelly: [32:05] You know, there’s this documentary that came out recently, and you know where I’m going with this, called The Gamechangers, which was really about bringing awareness. I haven’t watched it. Can’t make myself watch it. But talked about it a lot. And seeing — listening to four hours of podcasts breaking it down and talking about the science. You know, one of the things that I think Juliet and I agree on no matter what is we try to be plant based. And when I say that, we try to eat all the plants, right? And just for the reason you’re saying is that it turns out solids and vegetables and fruits and nuts are not the limiting factor, right? And they don’t make us feel bad. And then we personally layer on the best quality proteins that we can afford, right? So then that’s our base. 

But a lot of people I had a lot of conversations about people being interested I think because they were like, wow, I’m really interested in improving my performance. And when I said stop, how many plants did you eat today, they really couldn’t even answer that question. And it was very few. It was like they were eating charcuterie, and they were like, I’m just going to go plant based. And one of the things I just want to appreciate and have you talk about a little bit is sort of the work because one of the things that you’re advocating for is eating the most nutrient dense foods you can get in the world, and not just saying I’m not going to eat meat and I’m going to eat these crackers instead.

Darin: [33:39] Yeah. I mean, you know, it goes down to the fundamental responsibility, and you know this more than most, both of you, is we have this vehicle, this incredible chemistry set that just blows your fucking mind in terms of its ability to move us through and on this earth. And if we don’t take the responsibility and start to understand the owner’s manual, then good luck, man. It eventually will just break and then you’re broken. And then your ability to have a kickass life and dreams is just over. So that’s fundamentally where I believe people need to come from. So thinking that it’s an anomaly that I’m sitting here saying, oh yeah, I take it as my work and my life and my responsibility that I should choose the best possible foods of this very vulnerable task we have. We have a food out here and we’re opening our mouth to put it in our body so that it becomes us, Jesus Christ. Don’t you want to take a little bit of responsibility into that because —

Kelly: [35:02] No. I just want to self-soothe with cookies and ice cream. Stop it. You’re being so mean.

Darin: [35:07] Yeah. Exactly.

Kelly: [35:08] Just give me the grain alcohol. 

Darin: [35:11] Exactly. But that being said, I love that point because I am not saying that we need to not have the pleasure. And honestly, honestly, as honest as I can be, I deprive myself of nothing. Like I literally today had a bowl of lucuma, frozen lucuma from Peru. I happen to have some connections. It is nature’s yogurt, right? But it is a fruit that tastes better than any ice cream I could possibly come up with. So and I’ve gotten to taste some of the great fruits. And not a lot of people like this, but durian. Incredible fruit, right?

Juliet: [35:59] We just ate durian in Thailand. It was a little tough for us.

Darian: [36:03] You guys like it?

Juliet: [36:03] It was tough. 

Darin: [36:05] Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Some people

Kelly: [36:07] I rinsed my mouth out with a warm tuna milkshake afterwards.

Darin: [36:12] But jackfruit, for example. Jackfruit’s incredible. There’s a lot of stuff that nature has already created as its desserts, its bounty. So I don’t deprive myself of the pleasure of food. I just don’t want to put the bet on a guy who’s manipulating food, who’s putting it and smashing it into a pretzel, and then putting sugar, salt, and his rancid fat in it, and then getting a three second hit of taste, where now I have a generation of detriment that I’m sitting in when I can just think about it a little bit and go, well, what am I looking for right now. What kind of pleasure do I want? And what are some of the better choices that I could make? And then just take some responsibility and start choosing better and get a little more creative. So people are just lazy. 

And once — listen, I don’t spend time thinking about oh my God, I’ve got to choose the best food here. It’s all habits. You guys know that. Habits are nothing anymore. They take up zero space in my consciousness. So I have set my trajectory towards the looking for and the foraging and the kind of imprint of what my body wants, what it feels like it wants, and cultivating that response. Ultimately, I’m running around also gathering wild food in the area that I’m in right now. So that is something that I’m not spending time on. And that’s the difference, where people don’t realize that, yeah, it’s uncomfortable. Like you find this all the time. You give them the education of how to help that frozen shoulder that they’ve been living with for 20 years. You tell them how to do it and then they don’t do it. Like okay, well, then you get to live with a frozen shoulder for the next 20 years. So you know, that’s the thing. How bad do you want to live in a future that gives you more health and happiness and possibilities?

Juliet: [38:40] So Darin, in our little pre-conversation we talked about this a little bit or alluded to this, but I think a stereotype or sort of misconception about plant-based diet people is that they can’t put on muscle mass or be jacked. And obviously, this is only being recorded on audio, but having hung out with you at a pool and a sauna, you are super jacked. And so what that leads me to think is that you’re doing a really good job with your plant-based diet and that it is supporting your continuing to have muscles and/or grow muscles. So —

Kelly: [39:15] And maybe the best advertisement for eating the way you’re eating is the way you look.

Juliet: [39:20] You look.

Kelly: [39:20] And your output, right?

Juliet: [39:21] Yeah. So I mean I do think anyone who follows any nutrition strategy, there’s always people who do a bad job of it. You are obviously doing a good job. And we’ve talked a lot about some of your strategies. But what do you think is your secret?

Darin: [39:41] Well, you know, it’s hard to reduce it down to a thing.

Kelly: [39:46] No, I want three mobilizations that fix me. Perfect.

Juliet: [39:48] Okay. Five secrets. Five secrets, Darin.

Darin: [39:49] Yeah. Exactly. You know that. Well, I mean, listen, I think that, you know, it’s instincts, first off. It’s common sense. It’s — this is one that people don’t use often. When you’re plant-based selecting, use your nose. There’s a huge science in food selection, it will tell you is this banana unprocessed, uncooked. Use your nose. It’s a very powerful olfactory way of choosing food. I can smell a banana and know that — oh my God, I can feel instantly I want that right now. I can smell it tomorrow and I can feel like I don’t. So that’s a little hack. I don’t talk about that much because I’ve been kind of doing it for so long. But that’s a very powerful way to food select because it will give you instantaneously what your body will want. 

And again, I think it’s also getting to know your own manuscript. Listen, I definitely every year do a full nutritional panel. Like I am not sitting there running around expecting everything to be perfect because this is a modern day, crazy world. We are under so much frickin’ stress. One of my secrets is I freaking go nuts on adaptogens. So adaptogenic herbs because we’re under air pollution stress, water pollution stress, EMF stress, psychological stress, and now the freaking global stress of this situation. So ashwagandha, astragals, rhodiola, matcha, chaga, ricci, cordyceps, like those are so anchored in my daily regimen that that’s been 15 years of research, use, application. 

Hell, I’ve been in the tops of Tibetan mountains with a Tibetan picking rhodiola and understanding the power and the stress that it’s under. So again, that alchemy of realizing our modern day world and the increased need for nutrient dense food is something that is why I use botanicals and medicinal plants like crazy on top of my wide, diverse plant-based eating. But I don’t — I eat twice a day. You know, I don’t really consume a lot of food anymore. It’s just really selective. And I do my fasting and I do all that stuff and I listen. And other than that, the biggest key is always trying to get another diverse food in there. You know, okay, I had a red pepper last week. Let’s go yellow, let’s go green, let’s go a yellow zucchini, let’s go dark leafy greens. Let’s try a new type of kale. So that’s also important. The diversification gives us other micronutrients, other antioxidants, other compounds and cofactors. So that’s part of it. And there’s probably 20 others.

Kelly: [43:16] Right. One of our good friends has suggested that historically we used to eat between 40 and 60 kinds of vegetables in a year. And here we are, as Juliet pointed out, maybe eating four or five. And I really appreciate this mention of diversity. And one of the things that I’ve heard you say about this, your regimen being plant based, is that you haven’t said stop eating meat or stop eating plants or stop eating animal proteins. What you’ve said is there’s a whole lot of options that you’re not taking advantage of in sort of your diet. And one of the things we appreciate around sort of this conversation is that this is, at some level, a conversation of privilege. And I just want to acknowledge it, that not all of us could eat in this choice. And definitely, meat is a very nutrient dense food for a lot of people. But if someone was going to transition into improving their diet, is that the first step, by just saying hey, I’m going to increase the diversity and actually go out and try to —

Juliet: [44:23] And actually eat some plants.

Kelly: [44:24] And actually eat some plants in these ways because I think people have lost their minds or we’re so confused by this thing that we don’t think about nutrient density besides the package and how many grams of Vitamin C these pretzels have.

Darin: [44:40] Exactly. Well, yeah, and I think, of course, thank you because I’m never the guy — I don’t want the responsibility of telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat. Like I don’t want it. There’s plenty of plant-based people that take that on. It’s just not me. I don’t want that judgment. So people are going to do what they’re going to do. I’m just going to give you some information and let you do whatever it is that you do. But yes, that’s a first step, and very cheap, to get a whole wide variety of plants. And also, your food selection is extremely important. So yeah, you don’t want to expose yourself to other stressors, pesticides, herbicides, all of that stuff. If it doesn’t have a  number nine as a sticker on your foods, on your fruits, and all of that other stuff, don’t eat it because now you’re just exposing yourself to pesticides, herbicides, which is also a hormonal impact which will plummet your testosterone and effect your estrogens and all of that other shit. 

Also, with meat selection, I get it. It’s cheap. It’s subsidized. But that subsidy is horrible. Food for the masses. So I would, if you were thinking, don’t eat it as much but pick the very best so when you are still eating meat, fish, eggs, whatever, pick the very best so you’re getting the most nutrients per dollar that you’re spending. And then go out and try that diversification of different plants and go to your farmers market. Infinitely cheaper at farmers markets and stuff, and you know the farmer. So yeah, I mean the meatenomics of things, a whole other conversation because we forced the cheap food, but the poor quality food, because our modern day side is also causing these other stressors of GMOs, pesticides, and herbicides. So you want to minimize all of that stuff and save up your money and just eat a little less of it but eat the better quality of it.

Juliet: [46:54] I think that point is made all the more important during this COVID crisis. I mean I mentioned it a little bit earlier in the podcast but I haven’t heard random people say the world supply chain more often in my entire life. In fact, I don’t think I’ve said it so often. And I think we’re really starting to see all these meat plants having to close down. And all of this extra fruits and vegetables that are just laying in piles on farms and rotting because there’s nowhere for them to go. And man, this whole crisis has really driven home for me the importance of really understanding where your food comes and having it ideally be locally.

Kelly: [47:35] If you can.

Juliet: [47:35] If you can. And you know, just man, how fragile our big industrial system actually is.

Darin: [47:43] Big time. Yeah. There’s nothing more powerful I think than the decentralization of the systems and support your local farmers and support your local businesses who are producing food for you and all of this stuff. And it’s just — we’re like goddamn, if we’re not so vulnerable. Like I said before, I don’t know if we said it on the podcast, but I lost my house in late 2018 from a fire and now we have a freaking pandemic. So if we’re not understanding that we are extremely vulnerable by way of our fatal convenience of monoed distributed food, then you aren’t alive right now. 

So the quick reality is it makes sense to start growing your food. It makes sense to get to know your neighbors and farmers and all of that stuff. It makes sense to be aware of where that food’s coming from. And when you’re opening your mouth, just get the best in your body so you’re strong, your immune system all of that stuff. We have been running around with this modern day fallibility that is just — we’re getting bitch slapped right now.

Kelly: [49:11] And it’s true.

Juliet: [49:12] That’s a good way to put it.

Kelly: [49:13] I mean one of the things I think that ties both of those conversations together, what Juliet’s saying and what you’re saying, is we are seeing the rise of the Franken fake meat, hyper processed plant burgers. And for us, those stand in stark contrast to what you’re saying here about whole foods, access to real food, and unprocessed as much as you can. Real food doesn’t have ingredients, I think a lot of our friends say, right? And one of our friends points out at Walmart you can go online and buy grass-fed hamburger and it was about twice as cheap as some of those Frankenmeat Impossible Burger things and that we really kind of if that’s what we’re holding up as plant based, then once again, we’re sort of in this Franken monostructural crop disaster where we’ve missed the point again. Am I right in thinking that way?

Darin: [50:08] Yeah. Of course. I mean we need to look at these systems. And you know, yeah, you can see the pluses and minus of all this stuff. You can see. But if you’re willing to look under the covers a little bit and see the flaws of some of this stuff, obviously. I get it. The plant-based burgers and all of that stuff, well, it’s a nice kind of way for people if they’re so averse to changing their diet they just have to have it taste the same. Okay, well, there’s an argument that we want to transition out of that. But at the same time, I don’t eat that shit. Have I? Of course, because of the curiosity of holy shit, it does taste like meat. There’s no freaking difference. When’s the last time I ate —

Kelly: [50:55] And I’m curious about chocolate chip cookies too.

Juliet: [50:58] You see he keeps mentioning that, Darin.

Darin: [50:59] Yeah. Dude, I can make a killer –yeah. I can make some.

Kelly: [51:03] I know you can.

Darin: [51:03] Dude, I can make some food, bro.

Kelly: [51:07] Well, I think that’s one of the things that was really interesting, is in some of these conversations that get lost, I think people think it’s a choice and they’re choosing less, right? You know, we have an incredible relationship with a Northern California farm. We love them. We know everything about them. We know the people. And my rationale is I think the food tastes better, right? And one of the things I think you have done, and I encourage people to check out your Instagram and your books, is you really have made the case that this isn’t some ethical austerity measure where you’re saying hey, I don’t believe in the treatment of chickens. You’re saying that eating this way is actually way more pleasurable, way more nutrient dense and delicious. I mean I think that’s one of the things you bring up here, is that it’s not about trying to do the right thing for the wrong reason. It’s really about you having a powerful choice and all these things can actually be net positives in the whole thing.

And it reminds me sort of, it’s intrinsic as you’re saying, is that sometimes we really do not conjoin inputs and outputs. I don’t think people realize how bad they feel after binging on a pizza and a beer. And by all means, you’re a human being. You should do that once in a while. Go find out. But we had a professional hockey team we work with and a lot of guys just did not process these post workout shakes very well. Juliet and I don’t eat a lot of whey protein. But what was happening was just wreaking the havoc on these guys. And when they realized they needed to supplement protein, they supplemented the best quality plant proteins they have. And again, this is just anecdotal. All the guys stopped getting diarrhea and started feeling better and sleeping better. And I think we are so quick to make this disconnection between inputs and outputs. And I really have appreciated that your work is always pointed at having actually more pleasure and when you can eat better and more densely because that leads to better life enjoyment. 

Darin: [53:25] Hundred percent. Absolutely. And that’s the — I hope people get that takeaway because there is no deprivation. And also, listen, I would be remiss to say that I don’t like killing anything. That for sure wasn’t in my main consciousness when I switched to plant based, no. But it is now. Like it just lines up for me where I just don’t like to participate in killing anything. hell, I take flies out of my yurt when they’re stuck in there. So it just, it just feels good on that level. 

But yeah man, I mean, I’ve done it several times where I’ve had the boys over, right, the workout boys, and I’ve made them pizzas. And I swear to God they’re like, they’ve quoted this is the best pizza I have ever had, period, whether it has this, that or whatever on it. So I make a point, because I live that way, I make a point of food celebrated. And inherently within it, we have a synergy with it. And it’s nature’s candy. It’s already there. Pick up a date and eat a date, a medjool date. And you tell me that that isn’t nature’s freaking candy.

Kelly: [54:56] It is sport candy. It is sport. There’s nothing sweeter than that. A real strawberry blows your — these little strawberries we get in Germany, they’re too sweet. You’re like this can’t be. This goes against God. Nature doesn’t make things this sweet. 

Darin: [55:10] Exactly. I mean there’s been — I was with the Seed Savers in Norway about three months ago and I was in this greenhouse and this guy was a very interesting dude. And he was talking about all these plants he was growing and it’s a Seed Saver program and all of that stuff. And he’s like, well, check out my grapes. These are very special grapes. And I ate them and I couldn’t stop swearing. I was like fuck, these are incredible. Like oh my God. These are the best grapes I’ve ever had in my life. 

So when we do things right, the sensuality of food, of fruit, of that bounty just explodes. And the light that’s given, the literal light conversion of our sun and the photosynthetic action and the structured water that’s within the food and the life giving properties, when we interact with that, it is absolutely, without a doubt, one of the greatest sensual acts that we can do, aside from the obvious ones. So that’s what I kind of celebrate the most. And anyone who grows their food and picks it and eats it, knows that that’s the best salad ever. So that’s what we need to get back to. And hopefully, even in this COVID situation, that people are starting to have a little more sovereignty over looking at these things.

Kelly: [56:51] They have a moment to appreciate. On the internet there are people saying I’ve never cooked so many meals in a row. I’ve never —

Juliet: [57:00] Actually sat at the dinner table with my family.

Kelly: [57:02] Which is we think part of the magic of just food in the first place. I mean part of the mysticism of food is sitting down and relating and cooking. And even it’s a high-performance hack. I mean all of the high-performance groups, and I mention this a lot, the high-performance groups that we work with, always eat together at least once a week. So if you’re on a team, there’s the training table and part of it, so hopefully we can have a message. Darin, where do people find out more about your philosophy?

Juliet: [57:33] About SuperLife.

Kelly: [57:34] Where do we begin to sort of tinker with this?

Darin: [57:39] Yeah. Well, I have a new website coming out, darinolien.com. But SuperLife will link to it, superlife.com. You know, I’ve got an app coming out the next couple months. So can help people — you can eat meat on it, whatever. But I have a lot of plant recipes, got some education. I’ve got some videos. All of that stuff. And that will be coming out, and a lot of other stuff that I’m working on as of now. 

But yeah, so @superlifeliving is my Instagram and all of that stuff. And I’m just charging forward. And I appreciate these open conversations and especially philosophical differences and ideas. I think we need to share this without judgment. And I really like what you guys — the table that you have set here to be, to use upon. I appreciate that. And we need more of that, less divisiveness.

Kelly: [58:43] Well, one of the things that we know is that there is more than one way to skin the cat. All roads lead to Rome but there are definitely paths on those ways. Not every way in is equal in its effectiveness and its longevity and its turn. Thanks for being such a rational voice. And also, having spent a fair amount of time with you, you have always just pointed positive, which is something that Juliet and I feel strongly, that if you want to change someone, make it so compelling, a.e. slay me in the pool. Be more jacked than I am. Have more hair than I am. Be always stoked. And also, I’m always like hmm, what’s going on with that guy. And his food is so delicious. I mean I think really that’s the heart and soul of changing these cultural behaviors and even just giving people the idea that you control what you control and you probably can make a better choice if you’re armed with some better information. 

Juliet: [59:39] Yeah. And I just want to add, Darin, that it is just such a pleasure to talk to you. And I can really just hear how much joy and thoughtfulness and care you take to all of this stuff. And you’re just so open and have so much to offer. So it’s really such a pleasure to talk to you.

Darin: [59:57] Oh, thank you. What a blast.

Juliet: [59:59] And also, one request. Can Kelly and I invite ourselves over to your yurt for pizza this summer?

Darin: [1:00:07] Oh my God, yeah. I would love that.

Juliet: [1:00:09] Once we get out of quarantine.

Darin: [1:00:11] For sure.

Kelly: [1:00:12] Book it, son.

Juliet: [1:00:12] Book it.

Kelly: [1:00:13] And I won’t even make one vegan nut loaf joke. Darin, thank you so much.

Darin: [1:00:20] Done.

Juliet: [1:00:21] Thank you, Darin.

Kelly: [1:00:22] So excited to talk to you about this and I hope you guys are hanging tough and the rebuild after the fires and everyone in your — all the small farmers that I know you work with. I mean you know more small farmers than I think the average person has friends. And I know that this thing is impacting us all. So thanks for being their voice. 

Darin: [1:00:42] Yeah man. My pleasure. You guys rock. 

Juliet: [1:00:45] You rock. Thanks, Darin.

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