Leonard is a LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) entrepreneur and founded The Veri Soda Company out of a passion for a better future for his children and his children’s children. He identified the carbonated soft drink industry as a major culprit in the mounting global health crisis of today’s children and adults. Based on his experience and research on the negative effects of large amounts of processed sugar and artificial ingredients in mainstream sodas he decided to reset the soda industry. As the son of a Dutch veterinarian, he grew up with a consciousness around the impact of the food chain on human health. Almost 10 years ago, after his first visit to a soda factory, Leonard realized the soft drink industry was a key link to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. It was during his wife’s first pregnancy that he became especially cautious about artificial food ingredients, realizing the possible effects on his future children’s health. After the soda factory visit it was that Leonard decided that he had to positively change the standards of the soft drink industry back to its natural organic origins of 100 years ago — reinvent soda, go back to the days when all food was organic. He was committed to developing great-tasting, organic and low-calorie sodas that are healthier for his children and loved ones. Leonard grew up as a son of a Dutch veterinarian on the countryside of his native the Netherlands. As he later on in life realized, having been so close to the food chain a lot has changed of how we look at food and how we treat it, and often not for the better. Leonard is an academically educated economist and chartered accountant and a corporate finance professional. He decided to dedicate his career path to creating better products for people and the planet. With a hand-picked team of European organic food developers, he worked for six years on developing the soda of the future. Meanwhile, he founded Oggu, which led to launching an organic soda brand in Europe. From this experience, and a growing awareness of the impact of sugar, and an alarming amount of that from soda, on the obesity and diabetes health crisis in the U.S., he decided to leave Europe and launch Veri, the first complete range of certified-organic, low-calorie sodas in the U.S. Taking it further, he committed to creating a company that would operate completely climate and water neutral. Knowing that the organic soda would not only have to be a better-for-you alternative to mainstream products, but also taste good, he focused on developing a proprietary taste profile for the American palate. Leonard is co-founder of two nonprofit foundations, TheFoodChain.org and The Muckraker Foundation. Leonard lectures at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. How did you first get involved in the green industry? After having seen in my professional career too many examples of businesses that do not act in a responsible way, both towards human health and the environment, I decided to be truly committed to restoring respect for humans and nature by promoting LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability) business practices. The soda factory visit was my personal starting point. What interests you most about being green? Organic and climate-neutral food and beverage business activities and socially responsible investing built on LOHAS consumer behavior lie at the core of a sustainable world. What is your biggest “green” pet peeve? I have a few, but will only name two: 1) The fact that word “natural” is so terribly misused and taken for organic, and 2) the fact that GMO is still not forbidden in the U.S. like everywhere else in the developed world. What green trend is most exciting to you or your industry? That the consumer is waking up to real and healthy food. The U.S. is the largest organic food market in the world!

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