A Perspective on Burnout: From the Person to the Planet, the Parallel Exhaustion of Monocropping and Human Health, by Nivi Jaswal-Wirtjes MVLCE

posted December 5, 2023

We are a society running on empty. Our land, once teeming with a mosaic of whole grains, now lies exhausted under the weight of monocultures. Our personal reserves dwindle, mirroring this planetary fatigue. Prior to gaining my certification as an educator in vegan lifestyle coaching, I witnessed firsthand the burnout that results from an agricultural system dependent on chemicals and the exploitation of animals.

It’s time to explore how this burnout, at once both deeply personal and broadly planetary, stems from the same root.

©2023 The Virsa Foundation. Used with permission.

In eras past, grains were more than just sustenance; they were a spiritual connection, diverse and nutritious. Ancient human sense of season and time was based on harvests. Today, we face a monoculture of the mind and the field—our staple grains mutated for mass production and our diets stripped of variety. We prioritize convenience over the richness of life, and in doing so, we’ve entered a cycle of depletion. The cost? A rise in health concerns like gluten intolerance and a distressing decline in our soil’s vitality.

This is more than a crisis of health, it’s a crisis of identity. As Carl Jung suggested with his concept of Self-Individuation, we lose part of ourselves when we disconnect from our natural diet. How many can identify a grain plant beyond the supermarket shelf? It is this disconnection that has led us to the brink of personal and environmental burnout.

Yet, there is a beacon of hope. At the JIVINITI Research and Consumer Advocacy Program, we research and advocate for unearthing these profound connections between the grains we grow and the well-being we harvest. Our diets hold the potential for healing not just our bodies, but our world. Opting for whole, unprocessed grains can begin to reverse the damage, sowing seeds of renewal in degraded soils and in our stressed bodily systems.

During the pandemic, the JIVINITI Program embarked on a significant study, now blossoming into a documentary, to underscore these connections. Our consumer campaign, set for 2024, aspires to turn the tide, illuminating the path from knowledge to action.

©2023 The Virsa Foundation. Used with permission.

As for the practical steps we can take today, the Whole Grain Stamp from the Whole Grains Council is a beacon guiding us to authentic whole grain products. This simple tool empowers us to choose foods that contribute to a balanced diet and a balanced ecosystem. But it’s more than numbers and stamps, it’s about rediscovering the narrative of our food. Each whole grain we integrate is a stanza in a song of health and harmony.

Our journey to whole grain authenticity is a quest for wholeness itself. It is an affirmation that aligning our eating habits with ecological principles nourishes not only our bodies but also the soul of the soil.

For instance, India’s narrative with millets illustrates this beautifully. These grains, once the cornerstone of the Indian diet, were sidelined by the colonial emphasis on export crops. Yet, millets are resilient, they are nutritious, and they are India’s answer to the global call for sustainable farming practices. The nation’s recent efforts, culminating in the International Year of Millets, mark a significant pivot back to these indigenous staples.

©2023 The Virsa Foundation. Used with permission.

This reclamation is more than agricultural; it’s a cultural renaissance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s collaboration with New York City-based Grammy award winning artist, Falguni Shah, on a song to celebrate millets embodies this resurgence. It’s a recognition that our choices at the dinner table resonate far beyond our personal health—they ripple out to the health of communities and the planet.

As we stand at this crossroads, let us choose the path of diversity, sustainability, and vitality. Let us embrace the wisdom of the whole grain code to heal our burned-out soils and souls. For in every grain lies the potential to make the planet—and us—whole again.

In the spirit of renewal, I invite you to join this movement. Let us be the generation that turns the tide, that reignites the ancient connection between the earth and its stewards. Together, we can translate the whole grain code into a language of healing and hope for all. Let’s become whole again!


Photo credit: Nivi Jaswal-Wirtjes

Nivi Jaswal-Wirtjes is a Whole Food Plant-Based Investor • Research Innovator • Social Entrepreneur • Unilever, Boston Scientific, WPP Corporate Alumna • Main Street Vegan Academy graduate • Board Certified Coach in Health and Wellness, Lifestyle Medicine, and Jungian Depth Psychology. Nivi’s journey of overcoming burnout inspired her to launch her research-based nonprofit, JIVINITI. She connects the dots between Lifestyle Medicine, Wellness, Jungian insights, and deep corporate acumen—all woven with powerful storytelling, with an objective of guiding her audiences, especially women, through a transformative journey, leading them from burnout to burning bright! She speaks in academic, corporations and in education-related events about #burnout #nutrition, #publichealth, #behaviorchange, #planetaryhealth, and #climateresilience. Check out more of Nivi’s work on LinkedIn, The Virsa Foundation Inc. website, and Instagram.

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