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Good Life Gurus: Root the Future, Thailand’s largest plant-based community

Bangkok is a city brimming with talented personalities and charming characters who have pushed their way through to really make their mark. There’s no doubt that they’re truly living their best life, and doing it in great style. In our Good Life Gurus series, we explore and ask the city’s millennial tastemakers and cultural arbiters to reveal what the good life means to them, and give us a little insight into how they live it.

Contrary to popular belief, vegans don’t bite. At least, Max Hellier and Joanna Broomfield didn’t bite when we sat down to chat with them as shy non-vegans. Boasting an infectious positivity and a heartwarming open-arms kind of energy, it’s easy to see how they’ve gained such a mass following in such a short amount of time.

The plant-powered power couple is behind the largest plant-based and sustainability community in the country, and really at the forefront of the plant-based movement in Thailand. Want to read up on why COP26 failed us? Got a vegan doughnut craving to satisfy? Looking for an eco-friendly luxury hotel for the weekend? Root the Future, in all it’s versatility, holds all the answers to these questions, and is both an informative and easily accessible source of knowledge.

Max and Joanna inject a lot of fun into what is often otherwise seen as an intimidating and somewhat still foreign kind of lifestyle. Through quirky taste tests, entertaining videos, and honest reviews, the couple manages to find that fine balance between social cause and social media. They’ve developed Root the Future into a true Black Book (or dare we say, Green Book) for the vegan community, or just the community that is seeking a more sustainable lifestyle. It should be all of us. It could be all of us. Read right on and let these two Good Life Gurus explain to you how and why.

[All images courtesy of Root the Future]

Root the Future Max and Joanna

Please give us a little background about yourselves and what you do.

We are both from creative backgrounds and have managed to merge our careers over the years to basically become one unit of creativity. Max’s background is predominantly behind the camera, (shooting video and photo) and my background is predominantly in front of the camera (fashion and commercial model and singer/songwriter). We met in 2013 and since then we have been working on ways to creatively share our passions with the world; plant-based food and passive environmental activism.

Long story short, shooting together, eating plant-based, and our environmental activism has morphed into Root The Future. Root The Future advocates, educates, and entertains with photo and video content, articles, social campaigns and everything in between in the name of sustainable living with a focus on plant-based food. Eating a plant-based diet is the single biggest way an individual can reduce their impact on earth, so we choose to largely focus on this.

 

Root the Future Max and Joanna

What is the story behind Root The Future? How did it all begin?

During our time shooting sustainable fashion campaigns around Thailand, we realised there was a huge lack of sustainable, luxury hotels that also offer plant-based food.  So we put our heads together and spent a couple of years working on the concept for Plant Life hotel; the worlds first vegan, sustainable luxury hotel and animal sanctuary. It’s sounds like a mouthful, but as soon as we launched our crowd funding campaign we gained 12k followers in under a month and realised how hungry people were for plant-based sustainability. This was all happening at the end of 2019/early 2020, and of course Covid-19 put an end to those plans. But Plant Life Hotel made us realise that this was the perfect time to launch a social media movement here in Thailand that was focused on sustainability and plant-based food. So on May 1st 2020 we launched Root The Future!

 

Max and Joanna Root the Future

Who are your readers? What are they like?

Our readers are people who live in Thailand who are focused on sustainable living or who are plant-based/vegan. Our audience is almost split down the middle Thai and expat which is why we try and keep the language balanced between Thai and English. We also have an amazing community of business owners in this space. I honestly couldn’t think of better people to be interacting with on a daily basis.

Our community is insanely passionate. Although Root the Future is still quite small, the people in our community are not like any other readers or followers. They all believe in the cause and often have the same ethos. When we had only been up and running for 2 months we launched a sustainable and plant-based market and it was so busy people could barely move. We launched our festival 2 months later, and on the morning of the first day it was pouring down with rain, everywhere was flooded, lots of surrounding roads were closed, and the BTS was closed completely due to protests. We honestly thought it was going to be a flop. But as soon as we opened, passionate people flooded in with their umbrellas and reusables with smiles painted across their faces and it hit us just how powerful this community is.

 

Root the Future Joanna

What role do you think being plant-based plays in living a good life?

Eating a plant-based diet is key in every aspect of life. As I mentioned before, switching to a plant-based diet is the single biggest act you can take to reduce your impact on earth. That includes transportation, electricity, water usage… everything. This is still not common knowledge in Thailand. It’s never been more important to make important switches like this. We are coming very close to a time when it will be too late to save our planet from a climate catastrophe, so it has never been more important for people to adopt a plant-based diet.

But more than this, switching to plant-based food will save billions of human lives from preventable diseases, it has the potential to solve world hunger and will also save billions of animals from unnecessary suffering every year.

What does a good life mean to you? How do you live a good life?

For us, a good life is taking care of yourself, taking care of your home and taking care of others. Sustainability and plant-based food can take care of all of these and actually helps to give you more of a conscious mind set and outlook. We truly believe happiness lies in compassion.

 

Root the Future Max

What are you 5 good life essentials?

1.Plant-based food (Of course!)
2.Spending time with animals (cats, dogs, cows pigs, birds! All of them!)
3.Early nights
4.Carbs (seriously though, wholefood carbs will save your life)
5.Passion in harmony with patience

What is your self-case ritual?

For us, reading good books, outdoors exercise together, wholefoods, and spending time with our rescued cats. Luckily we do a really good job of taking care of each other too and we’re together 24/7 — does that count as self care?

What do you do to be more sustainable at work and home?

Of course, plant-based food is always our first way of being sustainable, but we also try very hard to eat local, wholefoods, oil-free and seasonal produce as well, since these things also play a part in the sustainability of our diets. Max will gladly tell you that avocado withdrawal is a real thing!

We also make sure to carry around our reusables almost every time we leave the house. The amount of plastic around, especially since Covid-19, is really hard to avoid, but reusables make this a whole lot easier.

 

Root the Future Joanna

How do you keep fit?

We both love Muay Thai but rarely have time for classes anymore. I am a little bit obsessed with running (even more so since our fund raising marathon in July), but Max is more of a yoga guy.

Where do you go for… the best breakfast in Bangkok:

Bonita Cafe & Social Club for the smoothies, banana ice cream, and waffles.

Where do you go for… the best date night in Bangkok:
Where do you go for…the best drinks in Bangkok:
Where do you go for… the best place to shop in Bangkok:

Online: Veganerie World, Offline: Vegan Basket.

Where do you go for… the best escape from Bangkok:

Away Hotel in Chiang Mai won the best vegan-friendly hotel in our plant-based food awards.

 

Root the Future Max and Joanna

A word of advice for living the good life in Bangkok:

Just give it a go. Experiment and have fun. Oftentimes when people go plant-based they think it will be restrictive, but it ends up opening a world of possibilities. Food in Thailand is so easy to make plant-based and many sweet snacks are accidentally vegan, so always ask if something can be made vegan or check if food is already accidentally vegan!

Lisa Gries
Creative Content Director, Bangkok
Lisa loves to travel, and is always on the lookout for the world’s best nap spots. She’s a serious Asian art history nerd, and has a knack for languages and coffee table books. She hopes to publish her own novels one day, one of which will likely be called ‘All The Great Conversations I Had In A Bangkok Speakeasy.’ It’s a work in progress.