This article tells the story of Follow Your Heart, a plant-based food producer headquartered in California, USA. The sustainability-focused company is committed to matching all gifts made to EARTH University on Nov. 28, 2017, otherwise known as Giving Tuesday – up to a $5,000 total contribution. Make your gift here.
If you want to change the world, sometimes it’s best to follow your heart.
In the early 70s, four young friends pooled their funds and bought a health food store in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. Their dream: to provide the local community with healthy and delicious vegetarian fare. Naturally, they named their business Follow Your Heart.
One of Follow Your Heart’s biggest initial challenges came in a surprising form – mayonnaise. At the time, mayonnaise was made almost exclusively with egg, and Follow Your Heart’s founders had trouble finding a supplier carrying a vegan alternative. One of the company’s founders, Bob Goldberg, decided to take a new route and attempted to make his own. Shortly thereafter, Vegenaise was born – and the rest is history!
Today Follow Your Heart sells a large variety of vegan products in stores throughout the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Mexico, Australia, and even Costa Rica! As a private business, the company and its team are able to hold true to their founding values – chief among which is a focus on environmental sustainability. One example: Their manufacturing facility, Earth Island, is powered entirely by solar energy. In fact, they produce so much clean energy that they are often able to sell power back to the electrical grid. Additionally, the company was recently awarded gold-level zero waste certification, becoming the first plant-based food manufacturer to achieve the distinction.
In 2012, Bob was introduced to EARTH University by his friend, EARTH board member and original cofounder of Follow Your Heart, Michael Besançon. Bob visited EARTH’s campus in Costa Rica and immediately formed a personal connection with the University and its mission. “I continue to be impressed by the extraordinary individuals who comprise the student body at EARTH. I have no doubt that the work ethic and commitment that they take with them into the world will have tremendous positive impact,” Bob said.
As Bob learned more about EARTH University, he began to support its mission directly as a donor. Then, in 2014, he decided to take his support to the next level and sponsor a third-year EARTH student as an intern at Earth Island. The staff at Earth Island were so impressed with the student that they eagerly agreed to be sponsors again the following year.
In the fall of 2015, EARTH approached Follow Your Heart with a unique opportunity – providing a matching gift challenge for EARTH on Giving Tuesday. Bob and the Follow Your Heart team were immediately interested in the opportunity to inspire philanthropy in others, especially for a cause as important and aligned with the company’s values as EARTH.
This marks the third straight year that Follow Your Heart has sponsored a matching gift challenge for Giving Tuesday at EARTH. On November 28, please consider joining Bob, Follow Your Heart, and many other supporters in making a gift to EARTH University. Remember, if you want to change the world, it’s best to follow your heart.
Feeling inspired? Make your gift here.