Plant-Powered Prosperity: Rachel Lessenden Of Health My Lifestyle On 5 Things You Need To Create A Successful Plant-Based Product Business

Plant-Powered Prosperity: Rachel Lessenden Of Health My Lifestyle On 5 Things You Need To Create A Successful Plant-Based Product Business

Be open to feedback and be ready to adapt. The plant-based market evolves rapidly, and being flexible and responsive to changing consumer demands is essential. Just like plant-based dairy alternatives that have improved over the years, adapting to customer feedback and evolving technology is vital for staying competitive.

The plant-based revolution is here. As consumers globally are shifting towards more eco-conscious and health-oriented choices, the demand for plant-based products has never been higher. From food and beverages to cosmetics and clothing, the plant-based industry is blossoming with opportunities. But how does one tap into this growing market? What are the key ingredients to launching and scaling a successful plant-based product business? In this interview series, we are exploring the world of plant-based entrepreneurship. We are talking to founders, product developers, industry experts, and innovators who have successfully navigated the plant-based business landscape. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Lessenden.

Rachel Lessenden is the founder of Health My Lifestyle, a wellness brand and meal planner subscription service. Rachel started Health My Lifestyle to provide simple recipes, practical tips, and meal plans to help people transition to a healthy plant-based lifestyle in the easiest way possible. With a Bachelor’s in Bakery Science and a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition, Rachel is uniquely positioned to create healthy and delicious plant-forward recipes. She has been successfully running her meal planning service, helping thousands adopt a plant-based lifestyle for over 3 years.

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?

Igrew up in Kansas on the Standard American Diet filled with lots of processed meat, cheeses, and snacks. From an early age, I found myself obsessed with food and diets. I hyperfocused on calories and didn’t fully understand the different nutrient densities of foods.

I pursued a degree in Bakery Science at Kansas State University, during which I indulged in my fair share of cakes, cookies, and pastries. My love for baking was always in competition with my passion for healthy living. I perpetually experimented with various trendy diets, but none seemed to have a lasting impact.

The turning point in my health journey came when my sister recommended I watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives.” Suddenly, the concept of nutrition began to click. The documentary emphasized the importance of nourishing our bodies with nutrient-dense foods to achieve optimal health and longevity. While weight loss naturally follows when we fuel our bodies correctly, it should not be the primary focus.

At that point, I started transitioning to a plant-based diet over the course of six months and experienced immediate improvements in weight loss, increased energy levels, improved skin, and better digestion. With these positive changes, there was no doubt — I was committed for the long haul.

I knew in order to keep feeling my best, I needed to plan and prepare healthy, delicious meals weekly, reducing reliance on convenience foods. For me, meal planning was the key to making plant-based eating a sustainable and lifelong choice rather than just another diet.

I now have a better relationship with food and I’m grateful for discovering a sustainable lifestyle. My mission is to help others do the same. I obtained the Plant-Based Nutrition Certification through eCornell, Cornell University’s online platform, in collaboration with the Center for Nutrition Studies. This certification deepened my understanding of the role nutrition plays in our well-being, equipping me with the tools to better support and guide those on their journey to a plant-based lifestyle.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Passion for the plant-based lifestyle and a commitment to its benefits have been a driving force behind my success. I’ve always believed in the positive impact of plant-based living, and this passion has fueled my determination to make a difference. For instance, when I started the website, I worked tirelessly to create and curate content that could inspire and educate others. My enthusiasm was contagious and attracted like-minded individuals who shared my passion and vision.

Building a successful venture in the plant-based space has had its share of challenges. Resilience has been crucial in overcoming setbacks and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of online businesses. One significant example was when our meal planning service faced some software hurdles that threatened its continuity. With resilience, we found innovative solutions, ensuring our service remained robust and accessible to our community.

Understanding the diverse needs and concerns of our audience has been essential to our success. Empathy has allowed me to connect with our users on a deeper level, addressing their specific challenges and providing tailored solutions. For instance, I remember a user who reached out, struggling with the transition to a plant-based diet due to a medical condition. I empathized with their situation and connected them with a plant-based nutrition expert who offered personalized guidance. This approach not only helped the individual but also reinforced our reputation for being a caring and supportive platform.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

One of the most exciting projects we’re currently working on involves expanding our content delivery options. While our meal planning subscription service has been well-received, we’re aware that many people prefer having an ebook option for a more straightforward experience.

Ebooks are a fantastic addition to our offerings for several reasons. Firstly, they provide instant access to valuable plant-based resources. Users can simply download an ebook and start their journey toward a healthier lifestyle immediately, without the need to navigate an app or commit to a subscription. This kind of accessibility is crucial for individuals who are just starting to explore plant-based living and may not be ready for a long-term commitment.

Secondly, ebooks allow for a one-time purchase, which is cost-effective and provides a one-time investment in a comprehensive resource. We understand that not everyone wants to maintain a recurring subscription, and ebooks cater to those who prefer a more budget-friendly approach to gaining knowledge and recipes for plant-based living.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about creating a successful plant-based product business. What inspired you to enter the plant-based product industry? Did you have a turning point or eureka moment that led you into the plant-based industry? Can you share some key milestones that helped shape your journey to success?

My inspiration to enter the plant-based product industry occurred organically. Initially, I launched an Instagram account to share my recipes and inspire others. As the account gained traction, I began receiving messages from people inquiring about meal planning services. It became evident that there was an unmet need for a comprehensive meal planning solution. This realization is when I had a true “eureka” moment. I had already been meal planning for several years at that point, so running a meal planning service seemed like the perfect fit.

I polled my audience to narrow down exactly what they were looking for, from types of recipes, kitchen appliances they use, whether they prefer batch cooking or cooking daily, their cooking skill level, and what features they would want in a meal planning application. Gathering all this day gave me a deeper understanding of my audience’s meal planning needs and allowed me to provide a more tailored and effective solution.

What do you believe are the key factors behind the recent surge in demand for plant-based products, and how can aspiring entrepreneurs authentically tap into this growing trend?

I think the surge could be attributed to a few factors. Consumers are increasingly conscious of their health and well-being. Plant-based diets are often perceived as healthier options, with potential benefits like weight management, improved heart health, and reduced risk of chronic diseases. The growing awareness of the environmental impact of animal agriculture, such as greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation, has also led people to seek more sustainable and eco-friendly food choices. I also think more and more people are opening their eyes to the ethical concerns surrounding animal welfare and the treatment of animals in the food industry has led individuals to explore plant-based alternatives. Plus, there’s been an increase in high-profile endorsements and documentaries, along with the promotion of plant-based diets by celebrities and influencers.

To authentically tap into this growing trend, aspiring entrepreneurs should start with a genuine passion for plant-based living. Authenticity resonates with consumers who can sense when a business is truly dedicated to its mission. With food products, be transparent about your sourcing, ingredients, and manufacturing processes. Customers appreciate knowing where their food comes from and how it’s made. Emphasize your commitment to sustainability, including eco-friendly packaging and ethical supply chain practices. Create a community around your brand. Engage with your audience through social media, events, and collaborations to build a loyal following.

How do you envision the evolution of consumer preferences in the next 5–10 years?

I think the demand for plant-based products and sustainable food options will only continue growing. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their choices and are likely to favor products that are eco-friendly and ethically sourced. Health-conscious preferences will always persist, with consumers seeking products that support their well-being.

Consumers will continue to demand more transparency from brands. They will seek information about the sourcing, production, and quality of the products they purchase. Trust in brands that prioritize ethics, sustainability, and authenticity will be essential.

I also think convenience will remain a top priority for consumers. The demand for time-saving solutions, such as meal kits, ready-to-eat meals, smart kitchen appliances, and online grocery shopping, is likely to grow.

What is your favorite plant-based product (not necessarily your own) and what makes it stand out? What can we all learn from the appeal of that product?

Aside from my meal planning service, my favorite plant-based product would have to be nutritional yeast. It’s hard to narrow down to just one product, but I use nutritional yeast almost every day in some form. It has become ubiquitous in the plant-based community for adding a cheesy flavor to food. It’s also an incredibly versatile ingredient. It can be used in a wide range of recipes, from sauces and dressings to soups, popcorn seasoning, and even as a topping for pasta or pizza.

I think the appeal is that it filled the desire to have something cheesy when no cheese alternatives were on the market. Even to this day, I’ll often add it to dishes to give a cheese-like flavor, even when there are excellent cheese alternatives available. Its affordability and adaptability keep me coming back, plus, being a minimally processed ingredient is an added benefit for the health-conscious consumers.

Based on your experience, what are some of the biggest myths or misconceptions people have about the plant-based industry?

One of the most prevalent myths is that plant-based diets are deficient in protein. In reality, there are abundant plant-based protein sources like legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, and tempeh, which can easily meet protein needs. Even plant-based meat alternatives offer protein content comparable to animal products.

I’ve also often heard that people believe plant-based diets consist of tasteless and uninspiring meals. In truth, plant-based cuisine can be exceptionally flavorful and diverse, featuring a wide array of herbs, spices, and creative cooking techniques that produce delicious dishes. In fact, switching to a plant-based diet opened me up to a whole world of flavors I never knew about. My diet is more diverse than it ever was on the Standard American Diet.

Another common misconception is that plant-based diets are expensive. While some specialty plant-based products can be pricey, many plant-based staples like beans, rice, vegetables, and grains are cost-effective. A plant-based diet can be as affordable as any other diet, if not more so!

Developing and marketing plant-based products often involves unique challenges, from sourcing quality ingredients and sustainable packaging to building a brand that resonates with consumers. What strategies have you found most effective in overcoming these hurdles?

As the owner of a meal planning application, my focus is on delivering an exceptional digital service to my customers. In this context, here are the strategies I’ve found most effective in overcoming the challenges unique to the digital realm:

User-Centric Design — Our application’s user interface is designed with the end user in mind. We prioritize user experience by ensuring that the app is intuitive, easy to navigate, and visually appealing. This enhances engagement and encourages users to return.

Customization and Personalization — To cater to a wide range of dietary preferences and restrictions, we provide customization features. Users can personalize their meal plans based on their dietary needs, ensuring that the app is accommodating and flexible.

Data Analytics — Leveraging data analytics is a powerful strategy. We analyze user data to understand preferences, popular recipes, and usage patterns. This informs our content creation and helps us continuously improve the app to better meet user needs.

Educational Content — We offer educational resources to empower users with the knowledge they need to make informed dietary choices. This content enriches the user experience and helps them better understand the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.

Feedback Loop — Actively seeking and incorporating customer feedback has been a key strategy. Listening to the needs and preferences of our users has allowed us to refine the app to better meet their expectations.

The plant-based market continues to evolve and grow. What advice can you offer to individuals looking to launch their own plant-based product businesses? Are there any critical lessons or insights you’ve gained along the way that you’d like to share with aspiring entrepreneurs in this field? Based on your experience can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Create A Successful Plant-Based Product Business”.

Absolutely, as someone who has navigated the journey of launching a plant-based business, I’m eager to share advice and insights for aspiring entrepreneurs in this field.

1. Have passion and a purpose. The foundation of any successful plant-based business is a genuine passion for the cause and a clear sense of purpose. You must deeply believe in the benefits of plant-based living. For example, my passion for the plant-based lifestyle was the driving force behind my business. I genuinely wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives and help them adopt a healthy plant-based diet.

2. Differentiate your product from what’s already available. In a growing market, innovation and differentiation are essential. Find your unique selling proposition that sets your product apart. For instance, my meal planning app’s distinctiveness lies in its user-friendly interface, completely customizable plant-based meal plans, and a large database of over 700 recipes with most of them being ready in less than 30 minutes. This sets us apart from other meal planning apps in the plant-based niche that just have basic functions, complex recipes, and less customization features.

3. Quality is non-negotiable. Ensure your products are of the highest quality, sourced sustainably, and prepared with care. Transparency in ingredient or material sourcing and manufacturing processes builds trust.

4. Conduct thorough market research and understand your target audience. Create products that cater to their needs and preferences. For instance, my audience’s demand for convenient, accessible plant-based meal planning led to our successful meal planning application. If you don’t know your target market’s pain points, you risk developing a product that doesn’t resonate.

5. Be open to feedback and be ready to adapt. The plant-based market evolves rapidly, and being flexible and responsive to changing consumer demands is essential. Just like plant-based dairy alternatives that have improved over the years, adapting to customer feedback and evolving technology is vital for staying competitive.

How does your business align with sustainability and ethics in the plant-based industry, and how does this alignment impact your brand’s success and customer trust?

My meal planning application is inherently rooted in sustainability and ethics within the plant-based industry. We emphasize plant-based meal planning that incorporates sustainable whole food ingredients and reduces the carbon footprint associated with food production. By promoting sustainable food choices, we align with environmental ethics and contribute to a more sustainable planet. Our users appreciate that we focus on whole food plant based recipes, not only for the health benefits but the added benefit of less packaging involved with these items. Our application also encourages users to plan their meals efficiently, reducing food waste.

What certifications and regulations are essential for new plant-based brands to uphold their values as they grow?

Obtaining a vegan certification, such as the Certified Vegan seal from Vegan Action or the Vegan Society trademark, can help establish your products as authentically vegan. This certification ensures that your products contain no animal-derived ingredients and have not been tested on animals. The Leaping Bunny Certification is also essential for cosmetics and personal care products. This certification confirms that your products are cruelty-free and have not been tested on animals.

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

One of my favorite quotes is “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” — Jim Carrey

I have this quote saved as my desktop background as a reminder that taking a chance on pursuing one’s passion and doing what you love is a risk worth taking. In the world of entrepreneurship, there are no guarantees of success. However, the alternative is potentially failing at something that doesn’t align with your true desires and values.

This quote has been a driving force behind my commitment to creating and growing a plant-based brand and meal planning application that resonates with my values and passions. It encourages us to embrace the entrepreneurial journey, even with its uncertainties and challenges, because the fulfillment that comes from doing what you love and aligning with your values is a reward in itself.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would love if I could encourage everyone to eat entirely plant-based, one day a week. One day of eating plant-based saves 1,100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forest, 20 pounds of CO2 emissions, and one animal.

By inspiring more people to embrace plant-based living and sustainability, we can collectively contribute to a healthier planet, reduced animal suffering, and a more harmonious coexistence with nature.

This is what we call our “matchmaker question”, and it sometimes works. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a power lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

If I could have a power lunch with anyone in the world, it would be Dr. Michael Greger. Dr. Greger’s work in promoting evidence-based, plant-based nutrition played a huge role in my transition to not just a plant-based diet, but a whole foods plant-based diet. I would love to discuss with him the latest scientific findings, and explore innovative ways to further promote this lifestyle.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The best place is my website Health My Lifestyle as well as my socials:

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at

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