Dr. Huan Xia: “Pandemics in history incubated creations from many famous people”

Before COVID, I tried hard to squeeze time to work on startup ideas as a side gig while trying to thrive at my corporate executive job which required me to travel 50% time, sometimes globally. I had at most 5–10hr a week on the weekend for the startup. But after WFH, I was able to […]

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Before COVID, I tried hard to squeeze time to work on startup ideas as a side gig while trying to thrive at my corporate executive job which required me to travel 50% time, sometimes globally. I had at most 5–10hr a week on the weekend for the startup. But after WFH, I was able to complete job requirements much more effectively without traveling and commuting, and my free time to spend on startup bumped up to 20–30 hrs. a week. The ample amount of time helped me to build up the momentum I needed to feel comfortable enough to quit my full-time corporate job. Of course, I continue to WFH for my startup, and interestingly enough, WFH mode allows me to establish a startup in a more laser-focused working style without much social event distraction and convinces me it’s more effective in leveraging resources vs having to work at certain sites and to travel to meet people face to face.


With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life.

As a part of this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Huan Xia.

Dr. Huan Xia is the Founder & CEO of LusOasis Inc., a D2C healthy food company creating clean & tasty plant-based foods, born-in-COVID to help people eat well and be well.

Dr. Xia holds an MS and a Ph.D. in Food Science from the Pennsylvania State University (Nittany Lion). For the last 12 years, she took various leadership roles in the big food companies (Mars, McCain Foods, etc.) in both pet food and human food segments, specializing in food value chain innovation and commercialization from farm to fork.

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, she quit her executive job, founded LusOasis, and is dedicating herself to her passion to improve people’s holistic wellbeing and the planet’s sustainability.

Besides being an Entrepreneur, Business Leader, Food Scientist & Innovator, Dr. Xia is also a Plant-based Food Advocate, writing the book and giving webinars on “Conscious Eating — How to become Healthy & Blissful in 21 days”, as well as sharing her daily vegan meal ideas on Instagram @happyfoodhaven/.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?

I grew up in China and came to the US by myself with two suitcases, when I was 21, to pursue graduate studies at Penn State. I hardly spoke any English before I landed in the US, but I was able to get customized into American culture and obtained my MS and Ph.D. degrees in Food Science while living on the stipend from graduate fellowship and research assistantship. I entered the food industry right after graduation and successfully climbed the corporate leadership ladder in big food companies. Although I was achieving personal success one by one over the last 18 years starting from zero in this country, I found myself getting more and more lost in a compulsive and anxious living style. I was not happy and always felt something was missing. That was until 3 years ago when I started an inner engineering journey and a vegan diet, I was able to gain much more clarity in my mind and realize that I can never be completely happy if I only focus on narrow personal success.

Eureka! I had been numbing myself (with personal glory) to ignore my compelling responsibility as a food professional to bring something creative and useful for improving people’s wellbeing. There are many confounding and conflicting factors about which foods are truly healthy on the market. I constantly perceive that many people around me become falling victims to marketing gimmicks on hidden sugars, sweeteners, and empty calories, while some health-conscious ones feel jaded with the buzz words and obscure options, and others simply give up trying healthy food as they appear boring, void of flavor, time-consuming, and not fun.

Boom! All of these pain points roared at me, and my inner voice became stronger every day: you have mastered so much about food science and nutrition, but why are you not using it to bring true wellbeing benefit to so many people who need them? Do not get trapped in your personal success and comfort, it is time to be brave and to pursue a higher purpose in your life.

When the pandemic hit us, I felt an even greater responsibility as a Food Industry professional to stand out to help people eat well and be well. There is no best or worst timing when it comes to a firm belief. You all now can guess the rest of the story…In 2020, I quit my executive job, started LusOasis to create clean & tasty plant-based foods, and now am on the path to pursue my true happiness by serving all of you who care to listen to me and to help me create foods nourishing your ultimate wellbeing and improve planet sustainability.

In just 6 months I was able to launch our COVID “babies” of four incredibly unique and delicious baking mixes, gluten-free, keto-friendly, and vegan, and achieved a #1 New Release Award by Amazon only after three weeks of the initial launch.

Beyond offering healthy food products, I believe in the power of free and accessible knowledge, to help the world become more attuned to conscious eating — caring about every bit of food we put in our bodies. So, I started to write the book “Conscious Eating — How to become Healthy & Blissful in 21 days”, and to share my daily vegan meal ideas on Instagram @happyfoodhaven. This is a plentiful life-destiny journey for me to unlock ancient wisdom and practices that respect the sacredness of food while combining that with modern science to bring people delicious food products for conscious and plant-based eating. It is my sincere wish from the bottom of my heart that the right foods coupled with the right knowledge will help you to reclaim your birthright with foods, that is to clear your body and mind, to boost your energy, to increase your awareness, and eventually to find your true happiness.

Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?

Yes! WFH has been the biggest time-saving tool for me! Oh, I can tell so many benefits WFH helped me to get where I am today even for only one year! Such a silver lining to become super-efficient about utilizing time!

Before COVID, I tried hard to squeeze time to work on startup ideas as a side gig while trying to thrive at my corporate executive job which required me to travel 50% time, sometimes globally. I had at most 5–10hr a week on the weekend for the startup. But after WFH, I was able to complete job requirements much more effectively without traveling and commuting, and my free time to spend on startup bumped up to 20–30 hrs. a week. The ample amount of time helped me to build up the momentum I needed to feel comfortable enough to quit my full-time corporate job. Of course, I continue to WFH for my startup, and interestingly enough, WFH mode allows me to establish a startup in a more laser-focused working style without much social event distraction and convinces me it’s more effective in leveraging resources vs having to work at certain sites and to travel to meet people face to face.

What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?

Not that much honestly, because I was able to make the switch in the COVID time to dedicate to my true passion. Though I realize that I could be an oddball when coming to this topic.

The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?

It’s an absolute wake-up for many things. I’d like to see COVID awaken the consciousness of what people eat. Look at the stunning data we have about people’s health in the US: 42.5% obese and 72% overweight. Americans spend $3.5 billion on medical bills every year. This huge number is not only a big financial opportunity to be used for better causes (such as better planet sustainability!), but also shows how much pain people are suffering behind this number that they have to be treated to alleviate the pain. Above 80% of diseases are lifestyle dietary-related such as heart attack, obesity, diabetics, auto-immune diseases, respiratory issues, etc. And these diseases can be much reduced by simply eating consciously and having a clean colon. Unfortunately, those people with such chronic lifestyle diseases are viciously attacked by COVID. The quieter time created by COVID presents a great opportunity for people to rethink their lifestyle and relationship with foods.

What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.

I am saddened by the many unfortunate people who suffered in COVID. But to me personally, almost everything was positive! I talked about the silver lining for my startup earlier. The other substantial gain for me is my spiritual journey. I practice yoga and meditation every day for 2–3 hrs. Before COVID, it was often very jammed for me to make practice time, and I would feel rushed all the time and couldn’t fully appreciate the calming effect from the practice. Now my practice becomes so regular and happens very peacefully every day. Because of that, I get more deepened in the meditation process and can feel more blissful than before. I have to say everything is relative depending on how we perceive it if we can look at things from fresh perspectives, every day every moment is NEW, regardless of whether we stay at the same place.

How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?

Most times I’m pretty happy wherever I am. Different types of activities at home keep me occupied, including working at the office desk, video calls, yoga, cooking, reading, playing with kids, etc. Sometimes I do long to see nature a bit more, not because I am bored, more because I’d like to be closer to nature. So, I often plan hiking trips to forest reserves nearby home in the early mornings when almost no one is around (to avoid COVID risk), and the fresh air and natural environment would boost my energy and make me happier.

Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?

I’d say that change in mindset and adjustment in daily routine are required during this time. Though they take effort to do, they never bother me as pain or suffering. Simply look at what is needed in front of me, then I take action to address it and carry on. Life could be as simple as that; the biggest barrier is probably our own mindset.

Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Pandemic is actually the best timing to start up a consumer-packaged food product startup, so I did and quit my corporate executive job amidst pandemic…so many silver linings including but not limited to high-demand of healthy food, people’s more openness to new brands, efficient working and networking through video calls (saving so much time and $$$ from traveling and conventions, etc.), tons of online entrepreneur resources becoming FREE!, easier access to high-status people because everyone is stuck at home!, no family and friends’ party demand so that I can focus on startup 24/7! (crazy but very much needed) etc. etc.
  2. Pandemic makes me much more settled into myself and gains much more mental clarity through undisturbed mediation and healthy home cooking every day! I was able to engage my teenage daughter to cook vegan meals with me every day, and to share the meal pictures on Instagram daily. https://www.instagram.com/happyfoodhaven/ I was able to make the vegan meals full of varieties, super delicious, fresh, and aesthetically pleasing, my family is now so looking forward to vegan dinner every night!
  3. Pandemic makes me know my family members much better!! And we developed fresh bonding routines and are closer-knit in supporting each other! I used to only have time to talk with my kids on the weekend and briefly at night. But with them studying from home, I get to observe their learning material and style much more! I was able to have many deeper conversations with them to influence and help. This applies to all the family members including my parents who live with us. When I have much more time being around them, there is so much more I learned, and helped me to appreciate them better in many ways.
  4. Pandemic is a huge wakeup for all humanity that we HAVE TO SAVE the environment — 70% vertebrate has gone extinct in last 50 years, and humans became the best host for viruses! It greatly accelerates environmental and plant-based food social movement, and let’s keep it going STRONGER!!
  5. Pandemics in history incubated creations from many famous people. I think it provides the best-undisturbed timing for writing books and making speaking engagement as well! Other than immersing myself in the startup, I started to write a book “Conscious Eating — How to become healthy & blissful in 21 days.” and gave talks to university faculty & students, and alumni groups.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?

“How profound is your experience of life, and how impactful are you in what you do? This is all that really matters in life.” By Sadhguru, an Indian mystic yogi and author.

After I began my startup journey during the pandemic, everything seems to happen at an amazingly fast speed like open sesame! It requires me to learn new things very quickly and to prioritize things very quickly while staying focused on individual tasks to finish them efficiently. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed by too many things, looking at this quote helps me to recalibrate myself and to allow me to go back to the starting point of why I do what I do. Everything is about experiencing my own life in a deeper way and helping other lives in a positive way, nothing else matters that much. It essentially helps me to keep my inner alignment of what I do with what I want from my heart, to reduce influences from compulsive situations in the outside world. Because of that, the noises from pandemic messages and communications have hardly impacted me in the last year.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

It would also be Sadhguru, where my favorite life quote comes from. He has so deep wisdom beyond life’s physicality that I can keep listening to it all day long. I have been practicing Isha yoga from what he founded, and it literally transformed my life from a compulsive living to conscious happy living today.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

What makes my day every day is what I can do to enhance other people’s positive energy in this world. Since my startup life, I’ve begun to make myself transparent to this world, and you can find me at many places! To know my company www.lusoasis.com

https://www.instagram.com/lusoasis/
https://www.facebook.com/LusOasis

To know my professional journey https://www.linkedin.com/in/huanxia/

To know what I cook and eat every day https://www.instagram.com/happyfoodhaven/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.


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